Blackpool fell to 19th place in the Championship with a buffer of just six points above the relegation zone after defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday, extending the Tangerines’ winless run to 18 matches, stretching back to November 30 and a 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
The middle of September, when Blackpool topped the table after a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture at Bournemouth – albeit of course at a very early stage of the season – must seem like a lifetime ago for the club’s faithful, although one could argue that win papered over the persistent disciplinary cracks on and off the field.
The Seasiders had Liverpool loanee Jack Robinson sent off that day, while then manager Paul Ince was also dismissed and subsequently banned for five matches after a water bottle he threw to the ground bounced into the crowd and struck a female fan. In December five Blackpool players were infamously sent off in the space of four days during defeats to Yeovil and Derby.
Ince, along with his starlet son Tom, has of course since departed as the powers-that-be looked to halt a run of defeats, but his player-manager successor Barry Ferguson has so far failed to stop the rot. After his first game in charge away at Doncaster on 25 January, Ferguson said afterwards he “loved every minute – you could see it on the sidelines”, but his mood couldn’t have been more different after Saturday’s defeat.
“I’m disappointed and I’m angry. I can only do so much in terms of preparing them [the players] right and training them right. At the end of the day they need to go out there at three o’clock and produce,” he said. “As weeks go on, the pressure is getting bigger and bigger, can they handle the pressure? I don’t know. They will need to start showing me they can, and that’s a worry for me.”
Ferguson’s side travel to Leicester next Saturday, so one suspects Tuesday’s home fixture against Millwall could be massive in Blackpool’s quest for survival. The Lions will visit on a high after a shock win over Derby that proved crucial at both ends of the table as Ian Holloway’s side kept Yeovil and Barnsley – both winners – at bay.
Derby lost further ground on Burnley, who marched eight points clear in second spot on Sunday after coming from behind to beat Lancashire rivals Blackburn. The result meant the Clarets closed the gap on leaders Leicester to five points with the Foxes not in action.
The Rams’ loss was a boost to QPR, who ended their five matches without a win by beating Birmingham 2-0 at St Andrew’s, closing the gap to a single point with a game in hand. Reading nudged Wigan out of the play-off places but the Latics won’t be complaining at the moment after an astonishing FA Cup win over Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday.
The same can’t be said for Charlton, however, who were powerless to stop themselves falling to the foot of the table after other results went against them, and had no safety net in the FA Cup after crashing out to League One Sheffield United.
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