Leicester City is not Ian Holloway's happiest hunting ground. "I've not won there for years," he said before taking Blackpool to the King Power Stadium on Saturday evening, "and I'm fed up of that." He was even more fed up after City had ended Blackpool's 100% start to the Championship season with a 1-0 victory, though his club still top the table. At the final whistle he stormed down the tunnel. The rant was yet to come, as well as the handshake with City's Nigel Pearson. "If it looked rude, I apologise," said Holloway later.
In fact he won nine matches at Leicester in 2007-08, when he was City's manager for six months – not enough to prevent them dropping into the third tier for the first time in their history. "It was like my worst nightmare," he said. "But I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing at Blackpool without what happened to me at Leicester."
What he has done at Blackpool has been one of the wonders of the game's greedy world. With a chairman, Karl Oyston, who refuses to play the agents' game or to pay outlandish wages, he has in three years given them a Premier League season between Championship final play-offs. At the same time Bloomfield Road has been developed for greater things. Whatever fans think – in 2001 they were in the fourth tier, in 2007 the third – they have a local owner, in or out of jail, who has backed the club for 25 years. Leicester, meanwhile, report a £15m loss and £27.5m loans from their Thai owners at 8% interest.
None of this was on Holloway's mind after City's win, though he did recall that in May's Wembley play-off "we almost beat West Ham on four times our budget." His grievance here was the penalty award by Mike Jones for an adjudged push by Tiago Gomes on Jamie Vardy shortly after half-time. "The boy's blatantly dived. If someone's pushed, they don't go up in the air. The ref's made a human error and he shouldn't be allowed to." His thrust was that the fourth official, with access to TV replay, could with superhuman power overrule his colleague in five seconds.
"If the fellow in the red shirt did his job as well as we did ours, we'd have got a point," Holloway went on. "Someone of his quality and experience shouldn't be influenced by the crowd." The crowd were, indeed, up in vocal arms. Just before, as the Foxes reprised their flying start of the first half, Jones had declined penalties for challenges by Stephen Crainey and Neal Eardley and ruled out a "goal" by Andy King when two team-mates, behind the outstanding goalkeeper Matt Gilks, were not interfering with play. "I wouldn't mind if they had scored those," Holloway said.
Blackpool were always playing catch-up in terms of control and only in the latter stages of each half did they bring Thomas Ince into threatening play. At the end of the first-half Barry Ferguson hit a post. At the end of the second they were playing 4-2-4 with typical Holloway gung-ho.
Harking back, the manager noted how tight decisions go to the big club and Blackpool "officially" lost out on nine points in the Premier League when two more would have kept them up. But here they are a big club, top of a pile in which six points cover 23 clubs with 42 games to go. For once it was a case of mixed messages not metaphors, plenty vented nothing gained. For Holloway it seldom is at Leicester.