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May 22, 2010

Holloway in dreamland after play-off win

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway was ecstatic after leading the club into the Premier League with a 3-2 win over Cardiff City in the Championship play-off final.

• Championship play-off gallery
• Match Report: Blackpool 3-2 Cardiff

With an average attendance of less than 9,000 this season - only Scunthorpe United had a lower average in the Championship - Blackpool will be the smallest club to ever play in the Premier League, in terms of ground size.

But Holloway was not concerned with preparations for what is expected to be a tough season among the elite next season as he savoured a glorious day in the Wembley sunshine.

"I cannot tell you what a difference this will make for people in Blackpool," Holloway beamed. "They're going to get so much money from the Premier League," said Holloway. "We spoke about all sorts of things before the game. We knew about the quality Cardiff had and we're learning as a group that we have to believe in ourselves.

"I'm so proud, not just for my team but for the area we come from. I can't believe this. It's outstanding. I have never worked with a group of people who deserve this more. I can't put this into words. I'm bursting with pride.

"I think our spirit shone through. No matter how many times they hit us, and we were a bit punch drunk, but we got there on points in the end. It's way beyond my wildest dreams that this group of players have achieved something that I think history might not see again. Cardiff could score a goal against us but they couldn't beat our spirit.''

Blackpool will be favourites to follow Burnley straight back through the trapdoor next season, but it will not be for the want of effort or commitment from the players, as well as a sprinkling of optimism from the boss.

"I want to win the Champions League in two years,'' added Holloway. "Well, that's as wild a dream as us being in the Premier League. But it might find a few out when they come to our ground, if the pitch is bobbly and the stand isn't quite there yet it might find a few out.

"Chelsea are going to have to come to Bloomfield Road, and they had better have the right spirit because we will have a right go at them - and hopefully they won't win 8-0. Burnley have inspired me and this lot of lads are getting that same opportunity.

"To be blunt, you'll probably see us take a few hammerings but I hope it won't destroy what we have got here because our fans won't get expectant, I guarantee that. They are just loving it. It's a different level now and the challenge for all of us is can we move forward? But it's too early for that, we deserve the chance to celebrate and that's what we are going to do.''

Holloway also insisted "Don't brand me a clown'', in reference to several madcap outbursts during his managerial career.

"I'm not a clown, I'm not an idiot and I'm not madcap,'' said Holloway. "I'm just a human being who tries to encourage other people and who sometimes needs encouraging himself - and I might need a lot of it next year.''

Captain Charlie Adam, who scored the first equaliser, said: "I can't put it into words, it's unbelievable. All the lads deserve enormous credit, we've worked so hard and now we've earned the right to play at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and so on.

"We'll enjoy the occasion, enjoy the summer, but next season can't come quickly enough."

Matchwinner Brett Ormerod added: "I'm absolutely speechless. We got written off at the start of the season but the gaffer has come in ... he deserves knighting I tell you. It's the gaffer who has put the belief in the lads, we've never stopped fighting and this is the result of all that."

Keith Southern, who was named Man of the Match, added: "This is one of the best days of my life. The lads have run through brick walls for the club this season. We always felt we had goals in the team and the boys never know when they're beaten.

"Never in a million years did we believe this could happen at the start of the season. But it shows what can happen with a bit of belief."

For Cardiff boss Dave Jones, another season in the Championship beckons after his men failed to become the first team from Wales to reach the Premier League.

"Everything's raw,'' said Jones. "I wish Ian and Blackpool all the best, while we have to take it on the chin and try to bounce back. We'll live to fight another day.

"Ollie has got the prize. We went close but not close enough.''

Jones was recently linked with the vacant West Ham manager's job but claims he wants to be in charge of the Bluebirds next term.

"There is always speculation but my heart and my mind are towards Cardiff City - maybe the new board will want a change but at the moment I'm focused on going away on holiday for a few days and then starting again.''

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