Has there been a better piece of transfer business this year than Blackpool's loan capture of Luke Varney? Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart would be up there but forget all the millions sloshing around at the top end of the Premier League for a minute and consider the previously unheralded Derby striker's true worth.
His fourth top-flight goal this season – the most regal of volleys, fittingly witnessed from the executive boxes by Prince William – set up Blackpool's first win over Wolves in 42 years. No wonder the stag-do revellers were reaching for the bunting because when Varney scores, it's party time at the seaside.
So far his appearances on the scoresheet have translated into 10 points for everybody's second favourite team, astounding value from a player rescued from Pride Park stiffs. While Varney's stock is rising rapidly, however, fortunately for Blackpool the same cannot be said of his price tag. Fingers burnt by experiences with previous loanees DJ Campbell and Stephen Dobbie, the Bloomfield Road club's then chairman Karl Oyston insisted on a cut-price clause in this deal. "We are going to sign him in January. He can't go anywhere else and we get him for £250,000. They can't change that, there's nothing they can do about it. Unlucky," beamed the manager Ian Holloway.
Varney, relegated to League One with Sheffield Wednesday in May and uncertain of his future until the Crewe manager Dario Gradi recommended him to Holloway in August, would have to agree to a pay cut to extend his stay beyond its current kiss-me-quick status. However, he said: "I would be delighted if something could be done because I've never enjoyed my football so much. The togetherness here is nothing like I have ever seen before."
That bond revealed itself when, with the Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann shaking his head having been beaten inside three minutes for the third match in a row, Varney bee-lined to embrace Holloway on the bench. His next appreciation of a colleague's position came a minute before the interval when he nodded down for Marlon Harewood to poke in the second.
Yet Blackpool were far from their fluent best and next-to-bottom Wolves rallied luckless. With the first-choice goalkeeper Matt Gilks hors de combat, the Ghanaian Richard Kingson excelled on his home debut to thwart half-a-dozen efforts– a touch on to the base of an upright from a Nenad Milijas's daisycutter and an instinctive block at the near-post to deny Sylvan Ebanks-Blake equal in quality – before Kevin Doyle got off the mark for the season with a header. "In the last two games if we'd had another 15 minutes we'd have been all right," said Hahnemann, after a ninth defeat in 11 games. "It's diabolical the way things are going, and it feels terrible to keep conceding so early on."
Man of the Match Luke Varney (Blackpool)
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