Blackpool, arguably the smallest club to participate in the 18 year history of the Premier League, started this season as 2/9 favourites to go straight back down again. Greg Simkins challenges the notion of this perceived foregone conclusion.
Ian Holloway and his inexpensively assembled squad were rightly lauded for their heroics in attaining promotion, but the praise was inevitably tinged with the bitter aftertaste of patronisation. The Daily
With Holloway’s team-talks sorted for the season (one would imagine pinning the plethora of such arrogant diatribes up around the dressing room would provide adequate inspiration for the Blackpool players), the enigmatic manager now faced the refreshingly daunting task of silencing the media and achieving the “impossible”: keeping Blackpool in the Premier League.
Two months and eight games later, Blackpool sit in a comfortable 10th position, four points off both the Champions League places and the relegation positions. Their away performances would suggest that their position is no fluke; victories at Liverpool, Newcastle and the rout of Wigan have earned the Seasiders nine very valuable – and well-deserved – points. Yet still, Blackpool appear to lack the respect that their performances have warranted.
A series of very harsh refereeing decisions saw them narrowly beaten by mega-rich Manchester City in a game which the underdogs of Blackpool dominated for long periods. Charlie Adam in particular was sensational and, had the officials not made three glaring errors, would have led his side to an “impossible” victory. Yet, again, much of the post-match analysis focussed on the naivety of Holloway’s charges; their never-say-die attacking spirit overlooked in favour of comparisons to last season’s early-season surprise package Burnley.
Even the 4-0 demolition of Wigan was dissected primarily in terms of Wigan’s ineptitude instead of Blackpool’s brilliance. One truly wonders what Ian Holloway must do to earn the respect of the media. Columnists can hide behind the terms “naivety” and “inexperience” as much as they want, they cannot, however, hide away from the fact that Blackpool sit in tenth place on merit, and not purely on the wave of euphoria left over from last seasons’ promotion.
The Seasiders travel to Birmingham today. The Blues, who have savoured victory just twice in their previous 20 league games, start as overwhelming favourites – understandably so considering their expensive players and home advantage. Nevertheless, a Blackpool victory would be by no means a shock. For the result to elicit genuine, non-condescending praise, however, is another matter entirely.