Ian Holloway hails resolute Blackpool ahead of play-off final

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway says victory in Saturday's Championship play-off final would eclipse winning promotion to the top flight in 2010.

They face West Ham at Wembley on Saturday, 363 days after being relegated from the Premier League.

Holloway told BBC North West Tonight: "It speaks volumes for everybody connected with the football club.

"Everything about this season was much harder than two years ago and I couldn't be prouder."

He continued: "We've managed to improve all the way along and now we're in our best run of form all season.

"We're up against a really good team, definitely the third best team in the division, and we're going to have to play better than we ever have to get anything.

"But I believe in my team and we're going to try our best."

Holloway guided Blackpool back to the top division after a 39-year absence in 2010, winning a pulsating play-off final 3-2 against Cardiff.

But the Seasiders could not keep up the momentum of an excellent start to their debut Premier League campaign and were relegated on the final day of the season.

"I was part of that horrible feeling, that emptiness," said the former Bristol Rovers, QPR and Plymouth boss.

"We had 39 points, which would have kept us safe by two points this season.

"We were leading at Manchester United 2-1 with 20 minutes to go, which hardly any other teams did at that time.

"Particularly the way we were rubbished before the start of the season. We were going to be the worst team in that division and we weren't even going to get 10 points.

"We ended up with 39 and it wasn't enough."

One of Blackpool's star performers in the second half of the season has been Tom Ince, son of ex-England captain Paul, who will be looking to emulate his father on Saturday.

Ince Sr led Wolves to promotion via the play-offs in 2003, and Tom believes his father's influence has played a key role in his development this season.

"I've got a double advantage of going home and having someone who can analyse my football, as well as the gaffer," the 20-year-old winger said.

"My dad is my dad. I don't look at him any different. A lot of people will see me as 'Thomas Ince, son of Paul' and that's going to happen.

"There are some very experienced players here, the likes of Brett Ormerod, Kevin Phillips, Ian Evatt, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Barry Ferguson, you can name them all. The likes of myself and Matty Phillips can learn from those types of people.

"There's also the gaffer, who's been there and done it before.

"He allows you to do what you want to do. If you make mistakes, you make mistakes. You're allowed to express yourself.

"Since I've come here, I've felt a sense of freedom and I think that's suited me well."

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