So now that my footballing thoughts are being cascaded onto the blogging scene and I look into the depths of my writings, trying to determine if I am doing a good enough job to merit the huge response from day 1. I feel the relegation scrap is as good of a place as any to further discuss the goings on in the Football world.
Blackpool F.C. were odds on to go down in August 2010, they currently have the English record of being the only team to be promoted through all 4 tiers via the play-offs, a stadium which some League 1 sides would feel is in-adequate and their finances, in which their combined squad wage budget couldn’t afford some of their opponents individual ‘stars’.
So why oh why, when many ‘experts’ predicted they “wouldn’t score 10 goals” this season, do they find themselves in a position where they could earn a second crack at the big time?
The answer, in the opinion of many, is the lovable Ian Holloway. In many aspects Ian Holloway incorporates the working class man, with an honest opinion and a straight-shooting-no-nonsense approach to the media which has seen even the FA show leniency in his post-match reviews. His on-the-field tactics come with the same entertainment, only a bore 0-0 whilst hosting Stoke has seen a clean sheet (by either side) at Bloomfield Road this season, and their “we’ll score one more than you” attitude has led to them pulling off some surprise away results, too.
Holloway’s team’s strength is focused around play-maker Charlie Adam, whom most of their play channels through, his long diagonal pass to the flank or over the shoulder of DJ Campbell has created numerous chances throughout, and his midfield partner Vaughan has been pivotal in winning the ball for him to distribute. With 53 goals after 37 games, they have scored the 2nd most goals outside the top 6 in the Premier League, and if the campaign was more like last season, their 39 points would have seen them finish 14th already, and be safe weeks ago.
So with such free-scoring ability, why do Blackpool find themselves going into a nervous final day? Their problem is their defence, though they have been free-scoring at one end, they have also let in 37 goals at home, and 37 goals away. An average of 1 a game, a stat which should frighten Tangerine’s given League Cup winners Birmingham, who will be fighting for their survival on Sunday too, won their last 3 matches before the Fulham defeat by a single goal, and have the resilience to hold a lead which sometimes Blackpool lack. The problems lay with the centre backs, and I think Holloway is all too sure that the signing of James Beattie from Rangers in January may have been the wrong area to strengthen. Kyle Bartley from Arsenal was available who’s young/quick/strong and at the time Jonathan ‘Sick-note’ Woodgate was looking to gain some match fitness, as well as Bamba (Hibernian) moving clubs in the same window. Holloway should have bolstered.
Cathcart/Eardley & Evatt do not have, in my opinion, what it takes to be Premier League defenders. Too often have they been caught out by the simple ball through the middle, their pace being exploited throughout. Less noticeable when Blackpool play deeper I must add, but the nature of their game plan calls for a higher line in defence which can sometimes leave 40-50 yards of green grass to run through.
Blackpool FC are entertainment personified, they are not afraid to have a go at teams, securing a memorable ‘double’ over Liverpool – I believe the only other side to do so is Tottenham -, scoring some memorable goals and giving us some memorable Holloway moments. But as for the Premier League, I think should they lose Adam, and probably will, they may only receive 20M for him, tops. With that they would need to add 15M to get two centre backs, a full back, a C.A. replacement and a back up striker. Which would take some serious bargain buys considering I think only Norwich City will be shorter odds to go down, and their stadium, atmosphere doesn’t upkeep with the flashy footballers lifestyle so many are accustomed to. If they avoid the drop, securing a 3rd season without Adam may be too much to ask of them.
Perhaps the drop could be kinder for them? The parachute payment could be re-invested into the club to install undersoil heating, erect a permanent stand to increase capacity, and to develop a youth academy which could bring through sustainable talent to aid a future Premier League adventure.
I’ll put my neck on the line, I think they’ll get a draw at Old Trafford.
- Manchester United 1-1 Blackpool.
- Wolverhampton 2-0 Blackburn.
- Tottenham 3-1 Birmingham.
- Stoke 2-0 Wigan.
Which would be enough to see them retain Premier League status for another season.
Looking at all aspects, I think they’re a lovable club. Very fairy-tale-esque. Their manager speaks on behalf of the people watching at home. Their football comes with an unpredictablity which typifies the Premier League. Their stadia represents a slightly FA Cup feel, in which you see them as a small club that makes you nervous of an upset. Their fans bring a colour, similar to the Brazilian carnival effect at a World Cup.
I’ll leave you with my favourite Ian Holloway quote, enjoy. The man is just brilliant.
Over and out.