A Different Opinion – Can Blackpool build on their recent results and finish above expectations this season?

Each week, A Different League takes an emerging issue from the Premier League and gathers the viewpoint of three of our expert writers. This week:

Following their 2-1 victory at Anfield on Sunday, can Blackpool build on their recent results and finish above expectations this season?

Frank McCann: “Many people are calling Blackpool’s win on Sunday one of the Premier League’s biggest ever upsets. To be honest, I’m not really surprised they won.

Think of it this way: Blackpool beat Newcastle at St.James’ park a few weeks back and the Magpies are in far better form than abysmal Liverpool.

What I’m getting at here is that all the hype around Blackpool’s latest win is being blown out of proportion. Yes they defeated Liverpool and it was a great result for them. However, if they had played a Liverpool side that didn’t have so many problems on and off the pitch, I’m sure the Seasiders would have lost.

When I think of Blackpool, I think of Burnley. A team with a small squad that over-achieved early in the season but in the end they got relegated.

As much as I would like to see Blackpool stay up, I think there are a few key factors that will see them relegated, such as:

• Despite having amazing team spirit, they have no individual talent.

• What will they do if they get injuries? Their squad is wafer-thin.

• They don’t have a reliable striker that will consistently score.

Ian Holloway has done a great job with the squad he has, and will probably move on to greater things in the coming years. However, he said he wouldn’t be happy until he got 35 points on the board. I would be very surprised if that happened.”

James McLean: “In short, I honestly can’t see Blackpool achieving much more than they already have this season. Historically, there is often one newly-promoted team – usually the least fancied – who seemingly over-perform at the start of their first campaign in the top flight. We saw it with Reading, we saw it with Hull and we saw it with Burnley – and each side was unfortunately relegated, if not at the first time of asking then at the second.

Of these sides, Hull managed to achieve a victory at the Emirates, the Royals managed to beat West Ham 6-0 (and notably also earned a point against Man United) and Burnley also scalped the Red Devils at Turf Moor. But all of these sides eventually succumbed to the added pressure and – notably – the added financial power of the Premier League’s experienced sides, and fell behind.

I genuinely hate to say it, but I can’t see the Tangerines faring much better. Indeed, they appear to be punching above their weight at the moment as they arguably have one of the least individually talented squads in the league, but the fans’ support is amazing! Drummer Hoggy winds the crowd into a frenzy, and the crowd can be the difference between a defeat and a potentially valuable point at quarter to five on a Saturday afternoon – so they certainly have the fan base!

It would also be remiss not to mention the fact that having a massive character in charge at the club can surely only help, and Ian Holloway is among the biggest characters around. At least in this respect, if anyone can keep them up for another season at the top it is this man – but another season is the most I can see them managing in the top flight, and I say that regrettably because they are a joy to have in the Premier League.

Honestly, though, I don’t see them surviving this season – and that feels awful to say.”

Alex Bath: “There is no denying that Blackpool have had a quite magnificent start to the season. Ian Holloway deserves massive credit for getting his team playing the way it does. The players have can be immensely proud of how they have adapted to the Premier League. The doom-mongers deserve to be laughed at for writing the team off before they had – on the whole – even seen them play.

The question though, is can they exceed expectations this season? Given that the expectation was for the club to go straight back down to the Championship having finished bottom of the league, you have to say the club are doing well. Unfortunately I cannot see the side avoiding relegation. Sorry.

Beating Liverpool at Anfield is a great result for any side. However, beating Liverpool at the moment is not the greatest of achievements. Blackpool faced a side with a host of problems all over the pitch. Avoiding Fernando Torres – no matter what form he is in – for 80 minutes of any match is conducive to getting a result on Merseyside.

Aside from the fact that before they beat Liverpool, Blackpool had lost two to Blackburn and Chelsea, and the team just isn’t good enough to stay in the Premier League. Blackpool have played some brilliant games, but they are still being undone regularly – enough to ensure it all goes wrong in the end.

Blackpool may defy expectations and not finish 20th, but sadly they will live up to the pre-season predictions and go back to the Championship. If they do, I don’t think it will be the last the Premier League sees of those Tangerine Shirts, they are definitely too good for most of the Championship!”

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