For the first time since 1971, Blackpool have reached the holy grail of top tier English football. After an uninspiring sixth place finish in the Championship last season, Iain Holloway’s men went through the back door route via the play-offs to reach the Premier League – beating Nottingham Forest in the semi-final, before beating Cardiff in a hugely entertaining final. Ever promoted manager will concede that their number one goal for the campaign is staying up – but can the Tangerines achieve that?
Holloway is certainly a character that will be much loved and talked about in the Premier League. Some might say he is a “Soccer AM” character in similar fashion to that of Jimmy Bullard over the last few years, always appearing on the show for his funny and odd comments during press conferences and interviews. The media will love him, the fans will enjoy him even more.
Last season Blackpool were reliant on loan deal, but Holloway was quite shrewd in some of the transfers he brought into the club. Play-off final hero Charlie Adam was the pick of the bunch, costing the Seasiders just £500,000 from Rangers. Including his fine free-kick against Cardiff at Wembley, Adam scored eighteen hugely vital goals for Blackpool in their quest for promotion.
With a sure lack of massive transfer funds at Holloway’s disposal, another bargain or two in the mould of Charlie Adam would be hugely beneficial to their safety hopes – however not one player has yet to arrive through the doors at Bloomfield Road.
Last Season: 6th in Championship
Manager: Iain Holloway
In Dekel Keinan (Maccabi Haifa, free)
Out Al Bangura (Mersin idmanyurdu, free), Hameur Bouazza (Arles-Avignon, free), Ben Burgess (Notts County, free), Daniel Nardiello (Exeter City, free), Joe Martin (released), Danny Mitchley (released), Stephen McPhee (retired)
Only one player has been reported to have joined the club, Israeli international Dekel Keinan, however nothing has been confirmed. The Maccabi Haifa player is a centre defender.
A number of players, however, have left the club, including a number who’s loan deals have ended. DJ Campbell and Seamus Coleman were both instrumental in the play-off race, and have returned to Leicester and Everton respectively.
Irishman Ben Burgess was a regular last season but he has been sold to Notts County, while a number of other have been released, and also the retirement of Stephen McPhee.
It’s a tight squad, only counting three established forwards and one or two other youngsters. However, expect a couple of more arrivals before September 1st.
Tactics: Holloway does like to mix it up. In a league like the Championship, it’s been noted that you must swap and change as you come against a hugely varied number of teams. His line-ups have ranged from 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-1-1, but his most favoured – especially towards the end of the season – has been 4-3-3 with a consistent pairing in the centre with Adam, David Vaughan and Kevin Southern. His three man forward line-up has been less regular, interchanging between DJ Campbell, Brett Ormerod, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Ben Burgess. His back four has also been quite consistent, playing Alex Baptiste and Ian Evatt in the centre, and Stephen Crainey and Rob Edwards (Seamus Coleman was last season’s right back).
Key Player: His goals last season from midfield were just as vital as Kevin Nolan’s for Newcastle, Charlie Adam has been a revelation at the club and undoubtedly their most important player. Can he find his scoring boots in the Premier League?
Fixtures: Blackpool begin their first Premier League campaign away to Wigan, who will be keen to get off to a flying start in their hopes for survival. It’s then onto the Emirates in a massive game against Arsenal, before raising the curtain on Bloomfield Road against Fulham. It’s up to the North East to face Newcastle, before another hugely difficult away tie to Chelsea. Four away games in their first five, including two away to the top four.
First five fixtures: Wigan (A), Arsenal (A), Fulham (H), Newcastle (A), Chelsea (A)
Where will they finish? It’d be fantastic to seem a miracle occur at Bloomfield Road, but the fact remains that Blackpool simply don’t have the quality to stay afloat in the Premier League for more than a season. 20th