WOLVERHAMPTON // Consider this a vision of what could have been had Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur succeeded in prising Charlie Adam from Blackpool's creative cockpit last month. Denied one of the Premier League's most intuitive passers by disciplinary sanction, the Seasiders simply subsided at the Molineux.
Never better than mediocre against a Wolves side that started the day bottom of the league, Blackpool aided in their own demise.
A ramshackle defence turned over Matt Jarvis's opener inside two minutes while the in-form DJ Campbell's petulant sending off further handicapped Blackpool.
"I came away after Charlie Adam was booked on Tuesday night thinking maybe our luck's changed," said Mick McCarthy. "They've just lost their most influential player."
Ian Holloway, the Blackpool coach, blamed himself for not freshening a team so impressive in defeating Spurs four days before.
"We had no Charlie Adam, had no DJ Campbell and we wouldn't have got promoted without them two," said Holloway. "And we're going to be without them for the next game at least, Chelsea. We'll have to do a lot better. That was a stinking day in the office."
Adam's importance to Blackpool can be captured in statistics. No one there has struck more shots, set up more goals, sent in more crosses and garnered more free kicks than the elegant playmaker.
Unfortunately, Adam has also conceded more fouls than any of his teammates, explaining why the Scot began a two-match suspension yesterday.
In Wolves' first attack, Ronald Zubar pushed the ball down the touchline to Dave Edwards. Another rapid pass found Adam Hammill, who pulled two defenders to him before sliding it across to Jarvis. The left winger curled his shot past Richard Kingson.
Blackpool were down to 10 men before the half-time break. Campbell caught Richard Stearman with a flying elbow then replied to the centre-back's indignant shove with a two-handed lunge at his throat.
"He's got scrapes down the back of his Achilles. Stearman had kicked him however many times before that," Holloway said. "But it's still unacceptable. That's part and parcel of your job and it's just out of character."
The red card was as inevitable as Blackpool's fate. The second half opened with Wolves barraging the visitors' goal. It was 2-0 when Jamie O'Hara bobbled a shot into the bottom corner, Kevin Doyle set up Sylvan Ebanks-Blake for a third, who made it four in injury time.
With their first victory by more than a single goal in 35 Premier League attempts, Wolves were out of the drop zone. The trick is to be there in three months' time.
"Twenty-second of May," said McCarthy. "Tattooed on my hand."