Has Blackpool's Bubble Burst?
So Blackpool are once again back in the 72. Most suspected that they would return within a season, but despite precedent from the likes of Hull and Reading few imagined that they would ruffle feathers to the extent they did. Here, ‘pool fan Liz Broughton gives us an insight to her feelings and thoughts after an oh so nearly year at the top table…
Hello, Football League – what have you been up to while we’ve been gone?
I’d like to say we’ve missed you, with your 3pm kick-offs, Tuesday night matches and of course the annual defeat at Barnsley but … it’s only been a week, I’m still getting used to the idea.
Although I have to say, as a Blackpool fan, ten years ago I thought if we ever left the Nationwide Divisions it would be in the opposite direction with Steve McMahon at the helm.
But as it happens we spent exactly 365 days rubbing shoulders with the elite.
From the moment Brett Ormerod’s goal hit the net at Wembley and sent us into delirium on May 22, 2010 to the second I slumped in my seat as Michael Owen waltzed through our defence at Old Trafford on May 22, 2011 – it really was the ‘best trip we’d ever been on’.
A brief spell at the top of the table (yes, I have the screen grab to prove it) after the opening day at Wigan, a memorable away win at Liverpool, going two-nil up against Manchester United… I could go on and on about how much my team surprised me during their year in the sun.
With 25 points on the board at Christmas I honestly thought we’d done it but – despite completing the double over Liverpool – we consistently surrendered two goal leads (losing 3-2 to Manchester United and emerging with a point apiece from Bolton and Blackburn) and, ultimately, here we are.
As Ian Holloway said as he left the pitch at Old Trafford last week – we may have won friends and defied the critics, but the result is still the same. Blackpool FC are heading back to the Championship.
I blogged last year about a desperate lack of signings as we began our assault on the Premier League, and the same thing worries me about our Championship campaign. It’s no secret that Charlie Adam will be off, and maestro David Vaughan is out of contract and is likely to follow him on a free.
Goalkeeper Matt Gilks is will almost certainly join them, while rumours abound about left-back Stephen Crainey, whose contract is also up, and a £1.25m release clause in DJ “I’ve found my spiritual home” Campbell’s contract.
So, that’s a massive rebuild job.
The Championship’s not an easy division, and if we’re going to get out of it again we need to be hanging on to players – not least because some of Holloway’s signings (James Beattie, Salaheddine Sbaà¯, Malaury Martin and Andy Reid in particular) have been at times suspect, at times plain awful.
Holloway has been coy when questioned about his future and while his stock’s never been higher I do think he will stay at the helm. I just hope the magic that’s surrounded Blackpool FC since 2007’s promotion hasn’t been lost.
Speaking of 2007, I plan to spend until August pretending I’m back there. We were delighted to be in the Championship then and “Blackpool are Back” became the mantra.
This time we are back, and if it’s all very well Football League, we’d rather we weren’t here for long…