Brave Blackpool Preparing for New Battle

Rarely has a team relegated from the Premier League been praised unanimously from all corners.  Seldom has a manager been touted as a serious candidate for manager of the season despite seeing his side slip into the second tier of English football. However, bizarrely, this is a situation Blackpool and their manager Ian Holloway have just experienced.

A 4-2 loss at Old Trafford on the final day of the season saw the Seasiders finish just one point adrift of safety on 39 points, a figure that would have no doubt surprised even the most devout Blackpool supporter.

The seaside town has seen its side experience a topsy-turvy 12 months, having clinched play-off promotion against all the odds to well and truly experience ‘the best trip they’ve ever been on.’

True, it may seem odd to suggest that a season ultimately resulting in failure can be deemed a success. But Holloway’s side have endeared themselves to all that have come across their path through attacking football, and of course, the entertainment of their charismatic manager.

Those doubting the reason for this admiration need only glance at the Blackpool squad list for the past campaign. A team comprising the likes of Neal Eardley, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Ian Evatt as integral members that were relegated by just a point is testament to the work ethic and belief that Holloway has instilled into his players.

Largely though, their most memorable performances have been due to the performances of one man; Charlie Adam. The Scot carried the Seasiders single-handedly at times last season, and many will be wondering whether he can maintain this level of performance at a bigger club. It seems inevitable that Adam will make an immediate return to the Premier League, with Liverpool still reportedly keen on the midfielder.

So what does relegation mean for Blackpool now? Well, unlike many sides that make the daunting leap to the big league splashing the cash on players with experience, Blackpool opted to sign players on loan and those with minimal reputation. Financially, the club should remain in a stable position because of this, and of course, they still possess one key asset in the talismanic Adam – for now at least.

An immediate return to the top flight would be a supporter’s dream, but with the Championship looking stronger than ever – containing the likes of West Ham, Leicester and Birmingham – the boys from Bloomfield Road know they will have to shock the sporting world once again if they are to bounce straight back.

Once thing is certain though – with the assurances that Holloway will remain at the helm, there can be few doubts that his side will continue to play attractive football in English football’s second tier.

Regardless of the future of the club, the supporters will forever be able to cherish the memories of their solitary season in the Premiership. With away day victories at both Wigan and Sunderland, a famous double over five times European Cup winners Liverpool and the euphoria of leading on the final day of the season at Old Trafford, supporters will be forgiven for feeling content with their heroes season.

Tom Dow

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