Blackpool’s survival hopes depend on successfully crashing Manchester United’s Premier League title celebrations on Sunday.Blackpool gained a surprise promotion through the Championship playoffs last year and have often exceeded expectations this season, beating the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham.
But despite a valiant effort, they find themselves in the relegation zone with one match left.
Blackpool are level on points with second-bottom Wigan Athletic and 17th-placed Birmingham, and one point behind Wolves and Blackburn.
Like the teams around them, they must aim for maximum points from their final outing if they are to preserve their top-flight status.
Unfortunately for Blackpool, that match happens to be away against newly crowned champions Manchester United, who are unbeaten at home this season.
While the fixture is undeniably daunting, there are factors counting in Blackpool’s favour – United have already secured the title and will surely now be concentrating on their impending Champions League final against Barcelona the following weekend.
After collecting the 12th championship of his reign, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was adamant his players, out of respect for the other teams battling against relegation, would do their best to win the match against Blackpool.
But with a game of such importance coming up at Wembley on May 28, it remains unlikely Ferguson will field his first-choice 11 at Old Trafford.
Defenders Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, forwards Wayne Rooney and Nani and veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs could all be rested against Blackpool.
The United squad are largely free of injury concerns, with only long-term absentee Owen Hargreaves ruled out of action.
Defender John O’Shea is nearing a return from a leg problem.
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway also has close to a full complement of players to choose from.
Australia fullback David Carney, suffering from a shoulder injury, is the only first-team regular unavailable.