Comedy was conspicuously absent from Ian Holloway's post-match press conference.
That characteristic sense of humour is being sapped from the Blackpool manager since relegation and replaced by an air of indignation; even his relations with the chairman, Karl Oyston, have started to sour.
Holloway has lost a clutch of players in the summer – not only the notable names of Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell – while those who have stayed with the club have been given scant reward.Players' wages have been slashed back to the figures they were before their miraculous promotion, an injustice that has made Holloway irate.
"We got up with a budget of £4.8m and if they [the players] have gone back to that figure I don't think that's fair," he said, after his side fizzled out in the second half of a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace. "The chairman was going to do it carte blanche with all of them, but he hasn't done it with some of them and I don't think that's right.
"He's told two of my lads who played today – you won't ever guess which two it is – that they can only have X instead of the Y that they thought he agreed to. It's really difficult for me trying to motivate them. I need this sorted one way or the other."
That said, Holloway's side did not appear short of motivation in the opening half at Selhurst Park, and deservedly took the lead in the 41st minute when Alex Baptiste fired in from an acute position following Gary Taylor-Fletcher's short assist. It could have been 2-0 or 3-0 to the visitors by then, as Holloway's attacking formation exploited the holes in Palace's rigid back-line.
Yet the home side were much the livelier after the restart, and Sean Scannell created a promising opening when he darted between two defenders and fed the young substitute Wilfried Zaha. The 18-year-old, an enticing proposition for Premier League clubs in the days that remain of this transfer window, skilfully lost his markers but fired wide.
Play thereafter was dictated by the young striker who, drifting loosely off the right flank, displayed the kind of imagination and craftsmanship the home side had been lacking, though he was not involved in the equalising goal, which was brokered from the opposite wing.
Dean Moxey's near-post cross was turned home by Glenn Murray, who has not started a league match since the opening day of the season, due to injury, giving Palace momentum for the closing stages.
Julián Speroni and Matt Gilks were inspired, as they denied further chances at point-blank range, though Murray had a header saved and steered a late opportunity wide, as Dougie Freedman's side failed to add further points to their remarkable start to the season.
Freedman said: "The momentum was with us in the second half and there were a few heart-stopping moments. It was an end-to-end game. You have to give credit to Blackpool in the first half but there is spirit in the dressing room plus a desire not to be beaten. The substitutions were positive and a positive result is what we've got from it."
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