Friday, 14 January 2011

Modern day fairytale

When Blackpool F.C. entered the promised land this season, many believed it would be a short lived journey amongst the big boys of English football. The incredible achievement of promotion from the Championship when considered relegation favourites at the start of the season seemed the pinnacle and a few tantalising trips away from the seaside and to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and the Emirates would be all they could take from a harsh season in the top division. However an already rollercoaster season has seen the ‘Seasiders’ delight their loyal contingent with high-profile wins, exciting football and the teasing prospect of being in the queue to buy their season ticket for the 2011/2012 Premiership season.
When Ian Holloway signed a one year deal to take charge of Blackpool, even ‘Ollie’, and his considerable optimism, could not have predicted what was to come. Avoiding relegation was the target set and a realistic one at that. A side with a limited budget even by Championship standards, showed grit and desire to see off their pre-season critics and rise up the league. Fast forward to the 23 May 2010, and the Tangerine dream had come true with a 3-2 win over the favourites Cardiff. An underdog story to rival the best and David would soon be facing Goliath on a weekly basis as the side stepped up to the next level.


The current Blackpool side have been a breath of fresh air in a time where money has become the be all and end all of modern day football. While the other clubs splash out millions on transfer fees and wages, Blackpool have relied on some aspects that are missed by clubs. Belief, Confidence, Organisation are all prominent in the Seasiders style of play and attitude towards their task. Coming up against the big spenders was never going to be easy, to put it in perspective it is estimated that Blackpool have a maximum wage for all players of £10,000 a week while an unhappy Carlos Tevez earns well in excess of £200,000. Therefore a tilt for the title was certainly a bridge too far from this small-time club. The gung-ho and fearless approach they have taken to the Premier League though has given hope to all lower league teams that the dream is possible and the millionaires can be beaten by the less affluent, unfashionable club from the North-west of England.

Breath of fresh air

The success can be nailed down to a few areas and their charismatic manager, Ian Holloway is certainly one of them. This man has lit up the game better than Blackpool’s illuminations themselves. When the great Jose Mourinho left these shores, a gap for a manager with a bit of humour was left and this man has certainly stepped up. When asked if he had any injury worries, the quick-witted reply was “No, I’m fully fit, thank you” and this is a measure of the man who I could quote all day. However a joker off the park he may be, but in-house he has worked with the players to create a side who are unafraid of their opponents and go into each match with the same philosophy of keeping the ball and creating opportunities. On the first day of the season, Blackpool turned up at the DW stadium expected to be Wigan’s whipping boys for the day, and showed the class and determination to leave with a 4-0 win and a crucial 3 points tucked away in their back pockets. This result sent out a message, that Blackpool weren’t there to make up the numbers and the loyal supporters had a season to look forward to.
That brings me nicely onto another factor behind the success which is the Tangerine Army who have followed their heroes around the country so far this season. They have created a tremendous atmosphere at each game they have attended and given their players fantastic backing even during games such as the 6-0 hammering at Arsenal. They have been rewarded for their support with two wins over Liverpool, the 4-0 thumping of Wigan among other brilliant wins and performances. The fans who arrive at Bloomfield Road each home game go there with the right attitude for a team newly-promoted and rarely is a boo heard ringing round the stadium. The results and league position they have achieved at this half-way stage of the season in just reward for fans that have toiled since the days of the great Stanley Matthews and are finally able to see their team successful again after many barren years.


Finally the players deserve enormous recognition for their performances guiding Blackpool to the top half and a vertigo-challenging 9th place. A task led by the captain Charlie Adam in fine style. Since being bought for £500,000 from Rangers, Adam has reignited his career with the club and become a key man in the side. Having scored and created in vast amounts he has repaid the belief Holloway has showed in him, and is finally realising the potential many believed he had. He is ably supported by colleagues such as DJ Campbell, Marlon Harewood, Ian Evatt and Matt Gilks among a squad unheard of by many individually but known as a tough outfit collectively. The aforementioned players have stepped up to the mark tremendously this season, Gilks in particular whose performances led to a call up for Scotland although he remains uncapped at that level. They have all showed that quality will only get a team so far and with the right attitude, organisation and belief, anyone can beat anyone on a given day.
Overall, Blackpool have reached the January window in a position much higher than anyone could have thought. If they continue the form and effort they have put into the first half of the season, and maybe add a couple of quality names in the window then it is almost certain, when the illuminations are switched on next year, Blackpool will still be a Premier League club.

No comments:

Post a Comment