Blackpool Season Preview: stopping the rot

blackpoolThe less said about Blackpool’s last few seasons, quite frankly, the better. Terrible running of the club from Karl Oyston, heartless performances and poor management along the way has culminated in two relegations in three years. New manager Gary Bowyer must now re-enthuse a disillusioned home support as he looks to initiate the rebuilding process. Supporter Gareth (on Twitter @seasider76) discusses the task of restoring pride at Bloomfield Road.

Neil McDonald has left his position as manager this summer. Do you think he was wrong to enforce direct football, when forwards such as Jack Redshaw and Mark Cullen play best with the ball at their feet? Does this explain the poor goal return?

Yes, Neil McDonald was out of his depth in every respect as a manager of a football club. His tactics, substitutions and team selection often baffled many. Yes, the job was never an easy one because of all the ongoing off-the-field unrest, but he really did take the biscuit. I think with Redshaw he put personal issues over the needs of the team. This was always going to end badly.

Gary Bowyer did a reasonable job at Blackburn Rovers on limited funds. Are you happy with this appointment?

Yes, I am. I’ve listened to most of his interviews so far and I like the sound of him and what he says. Obviously, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating but I’m confident he’ll do well. He’s also building a half decent backroom staff, too. I think he’s very in touch with the science of the sport of football so it’ll be interesting to see how everything unfolds. I certainly wish him all the very best, he’ll need it working under Oyston.

Target man Jamille Matt joins after a decent loan spell at Plymouth. Do you think the fact he was rejected by rivals Fleetwood, and was complimentary to them in an interview, will put some fans off him?

Fleetwood are in a higher division than us now and light years ahead in many respects. There’s a huge swathe of fans that have no interest in new players coming to the club; they only want one thing and that’s a change in ownership. I think Matt will be a decent signing for us and should score goals in League Two. Taking into consideration where we are now, I think most Blackpool fans will agree.

Danny Philliskirk did not have his best season last year. Has he suffered from playing in an unnatural wide position?

Yes, I think under Gary Bowyer, Philliskirk should prosper and score goals. The boy has undoubted talent and I think will come into his own next season and become a fans favourite.

David Ferguson was made club captain last season. Does that look like a mistake now? Was it right to give the armband to Colin Doyle?

Well, Colin Doyle has now left the club for £1 joining Bradford City. I’ve no idea who will be the captain next season. Tom Aldred would be a good shout for me. David Ferguson said at the start of last season that he fancied us for the play-offs. Clearly, he can’t be trusted. So yes, it was a mistake.

It seems Hayden White did quite well on loan from Bolton last season. Could Kelvin Mellor, who was not rated at Plymouth, struggle to replace him?

I’ve heard lots of things about Kelvin Mellor and not many of those things are particularly complimentary. He’s a classic Blackpool signing. A lad who, it would seem, has much to prove. So let’s give him a chance and see what he’s all about. Sometimes, under a new coach and tactics, players do much better. I seem to remember Leeds fans being none to kind about Stephen Crainey when he joined us. We all know what he achieved in a Blackpool team.

Clark Robertson looks a composed, steady defender, whereas Tom Aldred seems more aggressive. Do you think they could form a good partnership in League Two?

Yes. It’s imperative, in my opinion, that we hold on to Aldred. Bowyer clearly rates him and has spoken himself of how important Tom Aldred is to the team next season if we’re looking to bounce straight back. I’ve seen Aldred a few times and each time he’s been very impressive. He’s got a good future in the game and so I hope he’ll be in Tangerine next season. Clark Robertson can learn a lot from Aldred and I think they’re more than capable of building a solid partnership at the heart of Blackpool’s defence.

Brad Potts seemed to reserve his best performances for away games. Why do you think this is?

A poor pitch at Bloomfield Road, low attendances and I suspect some verbal abuse from the stands. He has bags of potential but at times last season was singled out for not giving his all. He would disappear too often in games, both home and away. The manager says that he’s got a new role for him in his Blackpool team so next season will be crucial for him.

Blackpool’s youth academy has produced very little over recent years. Has it been refreshing to see the performances of teenager Luke Higham? Are you happy with him and new signing Andy Taylor competing for the left-back spot?

I wouldn’t say that it’s produced very little, just that we usually sell our best young players to other clubs before they reach our first team or very quickly once they’ve played first team football. We’ve sold some excellent young players, in the past. Luke Higham certainly looks an excellent prospect. He’s a Blackpool lad and a fan so he’s one that knows what it means. We’ve two good players competing now for that left-back spot. I think signing Andy Taylor from Walsall is an excellent one and I’m looking forward to seeing him in a Blackpool shirt.

Wide men Bright Osavi-Samuel and Henry Cameron seem to have a lot of pace but little tactical intelligence and end product. Is that a fair assessment?

Possibly, but they are both raw talents. Again, with the right coaching and being played in the right position in a well-drilled and organised side, there’s no reason for me why these two can’t flourish in League Two. Henry Cameron was called up the New Zealand side last season and this experience can only help him as he matures as a player. I think Osayi-Samuel has goals in him.

Karl Oyston’s running of the club has without doubt been a disgrace and supporters have every right to protest against him. However, do they also need to make an effort to support the players on the pitch?

This is a very emotive topic. Most Blackpool fans, if not all, who are taking a stand will tell you how hard it is not being able to support their team. Most of them, myself included, refusing to step foot into Bloomfield Road whilst the current owners remain. It won’t be easy next season for our players, playing in a virtually empty stadium where they’ll usually be more away fans than home.

What are your thoughts ahead of the League Two season as a whole? From what you’ve seen of Donny, Crewe and Colchester, how do you think they’ll fare?

I think Crewe will struggle, Colchester mid-table and Donny will challenge for the play-offs.

Where will you finish?

7th. Play-offs. We’ll win the play-offs, Oyston’s will sell and we’ll all live happily ever after!

The Football Lab’s Verdict

The disunity at Bloomfield Road makes it difficult to back Blackpool. Bowyer is a decent manager but except for Jamille Matt, he has not yet brought in attacking quality. 14th

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