‘If we finish one place below Blackpool I’ll be very happy, because that would mean we’ll be promoted’ – Neil Warnock – 21/08/12.
Blackpool FC have started this season with a bang. After a disappointing play-off final defeat in May, The Seasiders have hit the ground running in their quest to get promotion into England’s top division. Reading achieved promotion in the 2010-11 season after a disappointing play-off final defeat to Swansea the previous year. Reading however started their campaign with a run of losses, the momentum picked up around the Christmas period and they gained promotion by winning the Championship. Ian Holloway will be trying to replicate Reading’s success this season. So far, so good.
Blackpool currently have around 35 professionals at the club. The first-team compete in The Championship and the development squad, headed by ex-Bristol City manager Keith Millen compete in behind-closed-doors friendlies. There were twelve new arrivals at Bloomfield Road this summer. Some of these players have gone directly into the first team, Tiago Gomes, Isaiah Osbourne to name two, and others have been placed directly into the development squad, Brice Irie-Bi and James Caton for example. Ian Holloway is desperately trying to make this model work.It’s not a B-team, it’s not an under-23 team, it’s simply a development squad. It’s there to make the players develop. As far as I can see it has been a success.
Blackpool started the season with a 2-0 win away at Millwall, followed by a 2-1 victory at Bloomfield Road against Neil Warnock’s Leeds United. The Leeds performance stuck out for many fans as it was the best game of football seen on our shores for many years. The passing, the defending, the creativity was just wonderful and it has given the fans a certain sense of expectation. The players however are feeling no pressure.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher has urged the fans to get behind the team because this is only the beginning. Ian Holloway has also echoed these thoughts. He recently spoke to the local newspaper and was quoted as saying “I’m enjoying the favourites tag.” A 6-0 home win against a woeful Ipswich side heightened expectation. Ian Holloway came out after the game saying he’d got his tactics all wrong. He must have done something right.
Thirteen points from a possible eighteen is a good return for Blackpool on their quest for promotion. It’s actually our best start to a league campaign in 57 years which is pretty remarkable. We will draw games like we did against Barnsley and we will lose games like we did away to Leicester City just before the international break but as long as we can keep a run of good performances going then the only way is up at the moment.
It’s difficult not to have high expectations. I’m not usually one to jump on the bandwagon of expectation, thinking and knowing that we can beat any team that is put up against us but at the time of writing (still very early in the season!) it’s difficult not to jump on this bandwagon. All the signs coming out of the club are positive and in Ian Holloway we have one of the best managers in the league. I literally cannot wait for the season to end as that way I will know how we did, where we will be come next season and the like. It’s a great thing to be writing about your football club in such a positive manner, hopefully this bubble won’t burst anytime soon.
Written by Adam Kinder, We Are Going Up’s Blackpool blogger
Adam tweets at @adam_kinder