Whatever could have gone wrong for Blackpool did go wrong last season. They were left with no chance of survival, a brand new squad was pieced together on free transfers days before the season started and Lee Clark’s arrival simply just delayed the inevitable. Now, in League One, the club are still riddled with off-field issues and protests, but on the field it’s all about a return to the Championship.
Last Season: Championship (24th)
Manager: Neil McDonald
GKs: Colin Doyle, Kyle Letheren
DFs: Tom Aldred, Charles Dunne, David Ferguson, Luke Higham, Lloyd Jones, Clark Robertson
MFs: Henry Cameron, Jose Miguel Cubero, John Herron, Jim McAlister, Connor Oliver, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Brad Potts, Jarrett Rivers
FWs: Mark Cullen, Nile Ranger, Jack Redshaw
In: Mark Cullen (Luton Town), Colin Doyle (Birmingham City), John Herron (Celtic), Kyle Letheren (Dundee), Clark Robertson (Aberdeen), Brad Potts (Carlisle United), Jarrett Rivers (Blyth Spartans), Jack Redshaw (Morecambe), Lloyd Jones (Liverpool – Loan)
Out: Tom Barkhuizen (Released), Andre Blackman (Released), Peter Clarke (Bury), Tomasz Cywka (Released), Steve Davies (Bradford City), Nathan Delfouneso (Released), Joel Dielna (Released), Bobby Grant (Released), Gary MacKenzie (Released), Tony McMahon (Bradford City), Jacob Mellis (Released), Nyron Nosworthy (Dagenham & Redbridge), Darren O’Dea (Released), Elliot Parish (Released), David Perkins (Released), Jeffrey Rentmeister (Released), Sear Sene (Released), Francois Zoko (Released), Dom Telford (Stoke City), Mark Waddington (Stoke City)
First Six: Colchester United (A), Rochdale (H), Burton Albion (H), Sheffield United (A), Walsall (H), Scunthorpe United (A)
Likely Lineup: (4-4-2) Letheren – Aldred, Dunne, Jones, Robertson – Osayi-Samuel, Potts, Cubero, Rivers – Cullen, Redshaw
A word from…Ben Burgess
On his time at Blackpool It was a fantastic time to be at Blackpool, it was fantastic for the players and for the fans.
It was just an incredible rise, we weren’t expected to get promotion from League One so you can imagine what it was like to get promoted from the Championship a few years later.
A few things have to fall into place, you have to have a very good manager and a very good set of players. You don’t have to have the best, because we definitely weren’t except for a few who were exceptional. But we had a good group and a manager who took a gamble. He did some research whilst he was out of football, we started passing from the back and teams couldn’t handle us, we had great team spirit too.
On the play-off final It’s a fantastic experience. It was strange, it was almost like a home game as there was so much tangerine, it stands out more than blue!
On the coach down we saw fans everywhere, it was a great atmosphere and we had fantastic confidence going into it. It just had that inevitability that we were going to win, we’d been on an amazing run and Ian [Holloway] did a fantastic speech behind the game. He said anything worth winning you’re going to go through difficult times and there we were, 1-0 behind, 2-1 behind and we managed to win 3-2.
On the team being underrated Definitely. It’s not just that you’ve got the good players, they wanted to play. There were teams who were far more talented but we worked hard and we were organised.
Charlie Adam was unbelievable, we brought David Vaughan back from Spain and they were fantastic in the middle with Keith Southern. Alex Baptiste at the back who really came on and Seamus Coleman came in and he was just fabulous, just what we needed in the final few months of the season.
On the decline I think some clubs can get promoted too quickly but we were very close to staying up, it would have the set the club on a completely different level if we’d won at Old Trafford.
So from that point of view it wasn’t too soon but you want to use that promotion, you get that money and if you’re not going to spend that money on players you need to spend it on facilities. They should be a top half Championship club and once you lose that momentum you just keep slipping. It’s just disappointing the way it’s happened, it’s painful for me to watch, I remember the ground being packed, the singing and now there’s so much distance between the club and the fans, I feel very sorry for them.
On realistic expectations I hope the players coming in can help, it’s a tough one because a lot of those players now have that losing mentality which is hard to shake.
I think they’ve done well getting Neil McDonald, he’s got a good pedigree and given some of the managers Blackpool have had that have been disappointing since Ian then he’s a good choice. Blackpool fans will be looking to go up, they’ve spent a bit of money on lower league players and a club like Blackpool has to be looking at promotion. Whether they can do that or not I’m not too sure.
Obviously the fans want drastic changes, they’re hugely disappointing with what’s happened in the last four years. There has to be dialogue, I don’t think Blackpool are even talking to local papers and it needs to be more cohesive than that.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: If off-field issues continue to distract from the games, Blackpool could do what Portsmouth did and sink all the way to League Two. But the club have at least been able to spend on young talent from the leagues below. Whilst a promotion challenge will be difficult, consolidation at the very least is crucial.
Key Player: Mark Cullen – One player Blackpool have been able to spend a little money on. Cullen had a good time at Luton Town and could be someone who can start to spark a revival on the west coast.
One to Watch: Jose Miguel Cubero – Given he came in off the back of playing at a World Cup with Costa Rica, Cubero didn’t feature too much last season. Perhaps League One will be kinder to him, if it is, he could be one to keep an eye on during the season.