Club Focus – Blackpool – Tangerines looking to get back on track with crunch game at home to Fulham

After the drubbing against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last weekend and a Carling Cup upset at the hands of League One’s MK Dons, Blackpool boss Ian Holloway will look to get his club back on track. Holloway defended his team selection against the Dons, fielding a weakened side in the hope of resting his players for their Premier League encounters. The Blackpool team should have been strong enough to see of the lower league outfit side, but the plan backfired and Lewis Guy’s extra time winner upset the odds and gave the hosts a 4-3 extra time victory.

Holloway said about the team selection: “With the greatest respect to MK Dons, the team I put out there, the players needed a game. That game has gone and we’re out of the cup. Was I bothered? No. That was the strongest team I could risk after last Saturday and what I have got this Saturday.” Holloway must believe that maintaining Premier League survival is miles more important than the chance to grab some silverware, albeit the Carling Cup.

“My priority is to bring enough players here to give us half a chance to get enough points by January so we don’t go mad in the market again and we keep our Premier League status. That is what it is all about.” Holloway missed the midweek game at Stadium: MK, because he was in Scunthorpe watching Sheffield Wednesday’s Marcus Tudgay playing for Wednesday at Glanford Park. Holloway has acquired eight new players this summer and Tudgay would be the ninth if Blackpool can strike a deal with the Owls over the striker. The Owls have rejected a £500,000 bid for the highly rated forward and if Holloway wants his man, he will have to meet their valuation.

Other rumoured purchases for Ian Holloway are his loan stars that fired him into the Premier League last term – DJ Campbell of Leicester City and Stephen Dobbie of Swansea City, as well as the Swan’s Angel Rangel. Rangel’s move to Blackpool will happen for £750,000, but Holloway maintains that if he pays that price, Dobbie should be part of the deal.

One of Holloway’s targets, Brett Pitman, snubbed the Blackpool boss for Bristol City and said that he chose the club instead of the league. The hotshot striker, who scored 26 goals in 46 games last season, said: “This is a club going forward and going places, I feel, and I wanted to be part of that. Obviously a League One player turning down a Premier League club might cause a bit of reaction, but I’ve picked the club over the league. Bristol City have plans for a new stadium and they are signing some good players. That is what I want to be part of.”

The Tangerines will be desperate to move on from the cup upset against MK Dons and look to pick up three more precious points at Bloomfield Road against Fulham. The first Premier League game at Bloomfield is a historic fixture for Blackpool and with the opening of the revamped stadium; it will be a carnival and party atmosphere on the North West coast. The manager will hope his side are not overcome by the momentous occasion and get back to the football they displayed against Wigan in the opening game of the season. Fulham will be in a buoyant mood after their draw with Manchester United at Craven Cottage and the emphatic 6-0 win over Port Vale, which, despite the poor quality of opposition, will give the West Londoners a high level of confidence going into the game. Fulham manager Mark Hughes has insisted that Holloway and Blackpool be taken seriously, saying: “He shouldn’t be underestimated, and underneath he’s got a very shrewd football brain.”

Holloway will be focused on the job in hand and a run of nine games unbeaten at Bloomfield Road, stretching into last season, will give the Tangerines renewed hope and confidence. Blackpool have only a few days to strengthen the squad before the transfer window and expect to ass three or four new faces to Seasider’s Way. The current mission statement for Holloway’s side this weekend though: pick up three vital home points against the Cottagers on Saturday.

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