IF BLOOD, sweat and tears win titles, then Manchester City are in reasonably good shape.
Bucketfuls of sweat – as well as a little blood – was shed by City during a game in which they were made to work far harder for second spot than Roberto Mancini can ever have imagined.
The tears belonged in Blackpool’s dressing room, Ian Holloway’s crestfallen players emerging with nothing to show for rattling the world’s richest club on a dramatic afternoon at Bloomfield Rod.
In the end the difference between the team which cost just £2.9 million (€3.3m) to assemble compared to the £160m (€182.7m) worth of talent on display for City, was Carlos Tevez.
Goodness knows where City would be without the Argentinian, whose two goals took his tally to 30 in 43 Premier League appearances since joining in July 2009.
City were taking a severe pounding when Tevez broke the deadlock midway through the second half and he was again in the right place to make it 2-1 after Marlon Harewood had equalised.
He is more than likely to be rested for Thursday’s Europa League game with Lech Poznan before the big one with Arsenal at Eastlands next Sunday.
Yet Tevez once again proved how vital he is to City as Blackpool gave Mancini’s side an almighty fright.
“He’s carried on from where he left off last season,” said Gareth Barry after City’s fourth straight win left them two points behind leaders Chelsea.
“He’s a world-class striker. Last season he got 20-odd goals and I’m sure he can do that again. If he does, we’ll be right up there come the end of the season.”
Barry had special praise for Blackpool, conquerers of Liverpool two weeks ago.
“We got exactly what we expected – a good Blackpool team that’s surprised a few teams already,” he added. “We knew it was going to be a tough game.
“But we stayed strong and we knew we’d get them on the counter-attack. We scored three good goals.
“It’s a fantastic start we have made to the season. It’s still early doors with some tough games coming up, but if we can keep this run going the confidence will keep growing.”
On a day when Blackpool proved that team spirit can match up to money any day, Holloway’s side, who have already surprised Wigan, Newcastle and Liverpool, earned more plaudits.
The hosts showed no fear and even won a new celebrity fan during a first half which saw them pepper Joe Hart’s goal with a string of shots.
British tennis player Andy Murray, fresh from winning the Shanghai Masters a few hours earlier, tweeted: “Blackpool are so good to watch! Loving what Ian Holloway has done.”
With Charlie Adam and Elliot Grandin impressing in midfield, Blackpool took the game to City.
The first of DJ Campbell’s many efforts came in the ninth minute with his best in the 54th when he fired narrowly wide after being played in by the industrious Varney.
One of the best moves of an intriguing match saw Stephen Crainey play a delightful cross for Campbell but, in what was the story of his afternoon, the striker was unable to find the target.
And Blackpool were made to pay as Tevez produced a sucker punch in the 67th minute when he clipped the ball into the far corner of the net after David Silva had produced a low cross within moments of climbing off the substitutes bench.
James Milner went close to doubling the lead but his effort was hacked off the line before Harewood equalised with a header following Adam’s 79th minute free-kick.
Blackpool fans were still celebrating when Tevez made it 2-1 less than 60 seconds later after a heavy deflection off Craig Cathcart.
Silva capped a highly impressive substitute appearance by adding his side’s third goal in the dying seconds before Taylor-Fletcher grabbed a consolation for the hosts.
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