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Serie A heavyweights head-to-head

50-50 Challenge 2 days ago
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By ESPN Staff
May 21, 2011

Campbell keen to avoid unwanted hat-trick

Blackpool striker DJ Campbell has absolutely no wish to complete the worst hat-trick of his life by falling back into the Championship. Campbell has experienced the trauma of relegation twice before, at Birmingham and Leicester.

The memories still haunt him, as do the faces of people he got the know well who were suddenly out of a job. So, all week in the build-up to Blackpool's date with destiny at Manchester United, Campbell has been trying to impress upon his team-mates how utterly horrible life will be if they fail in their survival quest.

"I have been relegated twice already and I really have no desire to experience that again,'' said the 29-year-old. "At Birmingham it was like someone had torn my heart out.

"But that is not the worst of it. The big problem with these situations is that you see what affect it has on the people who really care about your club.

"I used to be a fan. I know how hard it is. In the immediate aftermath you can see fans and staff crying. It is absolutely gut-wrenching.

"You ask yourself what it means. At Birmingham, a lot of people that I liked and spoke to a lot, lost their jobs. The responsibility is huge, which is what I have been trying to impress on the guys all week.''

Contrary to his own belief, there is a genuine desire around the country for Blackpool to do well, if only because of the additional colour Ian Holloway has brought to the Premier League.

After launching a staunch defence of Sir Alex Ferguson earlier this week, Holloway got his reward when the United boss agreed to a request for Blackpool to have a look at the surroundings they will be asked to operate in tomorrow, hoping to become only the second side this season, after West Brom, to avoid defeat.

"I can see why he would do that,'' said Campbell, one of the few Blackpool players with any Old Trafford experience, a 3-0 defeat with Birmingham in 2006.

"I have been fortunate enough to play there. It might get to the ones that haven't. But I have to say, it is a totally different stadium when there are 70,000 fans in there compared to when it is empty.''

There is a desire within Bloomfield Road to produce a miracle in order to get Holloway the praise he feels is lacking.

As Campbell pointed out, there were some pundits whose pre-season predictions had Blackpool immediately returning to where they came from, having collected a record low points total of 10.

It did not take long for it to become apparent the Tangerines were made of significantly sterner stuff than that.

Indeed, if someone had told the striker Blackpool would reach their final game with 39 points to their names, he would have snapped their hands off.

"I would have taken this points total,'' said Campbell. "We are still in with a shout of staying up, which in itself has proved a lot of people wrong.

"It is the most enjoyable trip I have been on. I had a good time at Birmingham but we had a lot of internationals. This is different. We are a bunch of nobodies.''

That will not be true should Blackpool stay up, a feat that could be achieved through a narrow defeat should Birmingham and Wigan fall at the final hurdle.

It might not be the method of choice for anxious supporters. But it would probably be in keeping with Holloway's madcap world.

"Ian is a genuinely good bloke,'' said Campbell. "Not all managers fit that criteria. To some, football is more like a job. That is not the case with him. He has been a pleasure to work with and it is great to see him finally get the recognition he deserves.''

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