“It is nice to draw a line under the last fortnight now and move on”
Those were the words of Ian Holloway in his post-match press conference after beating Brighton 3-1 at home on Saturday.
Holloway has every right to breathe a sigh of relief. Blackpool FC have been in the news for all the wrong reasons on not just one topic, not just two but three topics over the last fortnight.
The Mail on Sunday reported that owner Owen Oyston’s company Zabaxe Ltd had been paid £11m from Blackpool FC in the year that they were relegated from the Premier League. His payment as a shareholder of the club works out at £211,538 a week. The club posted record profits of £20m and fan’s felt the money would have been better spent on a new training ground. The fans have voiced their concerns to chairman Karl Oyston, son of owner Owen, to step down from his post. Ian Holloway’s reaction to this was to criticise the fans and tell them to get behind their team.
False reports of the club checking into a hotel for the Seasiders away trip to Peterborough only to be told that the credit card used to pay for the stay was declined didn’t help the cause, Holloway and the club have frivolously denied that this was a major issue and that the media, local and national were out to derail the Seasiders bid for promotion back to the Premier League. The story wasn’t helped as Blackpool lost 3-1 at London Road.
Another story which was picked up on by the national newspapers was the trial spell of a certain Mr Robbie Fowler. Fowler impressed in his short spell with Blackpool despite spending the last few years plying his trade in the middle east with North Queensland Fury, Perth Glory and a short player-manager spell with Thailand based Muangthong United. Fowler surprised Holloway and his players with satisfactory fitness levels as well as an eye for a goal. Fowler was offered a basic pay package of £100 a week with a £5,000 a week bonus if he played 90 minutes. Fowler rejected the deal and was quaoted as saying, “If Ashley Cole nearly crashed his car when he was offered £50,000 a week (by Arsenal), I nearly self-combusted”.
The three reports along with Blackpool’s inconsitent form over the past couple of weeks had Holloway in a spin.
Blackpool find themselves in fifth place, behind in-form Reading, who they are yet to play at the Madjeski Stadium, promotion chasers West Ham and Southampton as well as Chris Hughton’s Birmingham City. Occupying the final play-off place is Middlesbrough. The Championship is getting harder to call every single week, literally any one could go on a good run and be in touching distance of the play-off places.
The highlight, or highlights of the season for me have been youngsters Matty Phillips and Tom Ince. The pair have found the net 16 times between themselves this season and Blackpool fended off interest from Cardiff City in the January transfer window when they tried to sign Phillips for a paltry £800,000. Tom Ince has recently been linked with a move back to the Premier League with supposed interest from Newcastle and Everton respectively.
This season has been, I hate to use the cliché, a roller-coaster. Blackpool have been inconsistent this season despite staying in and around the play-off places. A late push like that which got the club promoted to the Championship back in 2007 is just what the Tangerines’s need, that and as little interest from the national media as possible.
Holloway has publicly come out this week and said that 8 wins out of 10 games will be needed to make the play-offs this season. A 3-1 home win against Gus Poyet’s Brighton can’t hurt and Ollie will be hoping to get one over on his former team Leicester come Wednesday evening to keep the Seasiders in with fight for the play-off places and a possible return to the Premier League.
Written by Adam Kinder, We Are Going Up’s Blackpool blogger
Adam tweets at @adam_kinder