Ian Holloway emerged from the maelstrom of Blackpool’s shattering defeat to Manchester United complaining it felt like he had been kicked right where it hurts.
The Seasiders appeared to be on the brink of one of the greatest nights in their history when they led the Premier League leaders 2-0 at the break.
But the second-half introductions of Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez turned the game on its head and with Dimitar Berbatov scoring twice in a frenetic finish, United emerged 3-2 victors to stride five points clear at the top of the table.
“We are absolutely gutted,” he said.
“We are devastated to lose.
“I woke up and feel like I have been kicked in a very delicate place.
“I will have a horrible ache for a while and then it will be gone.”
According to the Blackpool chief, the result hinged on a penalty decision that did not go his way as Luke Varney went down under a challenge from Rafael, who was later taken to hospital with concussion after taking a severe blow in an accidental collision with Marlon Harewood.
“We needed the penalty,” said Holloway.
“That would have really thrown a grenade into it. They might have come back but how can he (referee Peter Walton) not see it was a penalty?”
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admitted his side had been unable to cope with the set-piece delivery of Charlie Adam, whose corners led to goals for Red Devils old-boy Craig Cathcart and DJ Campbell.
The visitors were still labouring 20 minutes from time but the introduction of Hernandez for Wayne Rooney transformed the contest,
Hernandez levelled two minutes after Berbatov had hauled United back into the game and the match was heading into 10 minutes’ injury-time when the Bulgarian struck again - his 20th goal of an incredible season and his fifth in four days.
“We were deep in the mire in the first half,” said Ferguson.
“We just couldn’t handle Charlie Adam’s free-kicks and corners.
“We were all over the place. His corner kicks are worth £10million in themselves.
“The boy is an incredible striker of the ball. But the rhythm of our game was poor in the first half. Our penetration wasn’t right.
“I just wonder if they were over confident before the game.
“They got a rude awakening but this is a result industry and we got a result which may have a big impact on the league at the end of the season.”
Inevitably given his performance, Holloway was forced to field questions about Adam’s future, even though there has been no further development following the transfer request he handed in yesterday.
First, the Blackpool chief launched a broadside at Gerard Houllier, who himself had attacked Holloway yesterday, before outlining a rather stark scenario for the 25-year-old, who is keen to take up an offer to join Liverpool.
“I don’t talk about other team’s players,” said Holloway.
“Mr Houllier didn’t do that. He said they had offered and we hadn’t got back to him and Charlie is really good. What is that to do with him? How unsettling is that?
“Charlie knows I want the best for him.
“You have to work for what you want. I did. My dad did. He worked in a foundry, and Charlie will have to accept what we do.
“Big clubs will come back in for him after this transfer window because he will only fail to make it through injury.
“Everyone in the world can see how good he is going to be.”
So good in fact Holloway is thinking of creating his own tribute, before taking a rather unconventional break during an unscheduled weekend off.
“Charlie will go down in folk history at this club,” said Holloway, who revealed there had been a hitch in his own attempt to sign former Arsenal front-man Jeremie Aliadiere.
“I might even make a statue of him myself, although it would have to be wood. I can’t afford bronze.
“But first I am going away with my wife - to Chorley. There is a golf course there. I need to free my brain.”