Blackpool FC 06/07
Well, a normal start for Blackpool. Will it be a normal season though? Have the relegation dogfights passed us by? Or are we still the same as we were, and Saturdays fantastic display against promotion hunters Bristol City was just a fluke? Those points remain to be seen, but one thing is for sure is that the 4-2 victory over 'The Robins` gives Simon Grayson and his men the perfect opportunity to overcome the horrific start that had to be seen to be believed at Bloomfield Road.
At Brentford we were unlucky. I was there and I have to say we were robbed. A poor error by Rhys Evans (he will become a very good acquisition, buy of the season) let 'The Bees` steal all three points. Then the following Tuesday we were beaten by a better team in all fairness. Nottingham Forest. But against Rotherham we lacked anything. It had nothing to it. The worst showing in months. The season was looking bleak. Grayson then perhaps showed a managerial master stroke. He had a lengthy team meeting with the squad and they tried, as a group, to figure out where they were going wrong, something neither of the two previous managers would have even dreamed of.
What a difference a game makes, eh!? I wasn`t there on Saturday at Ashton Gate, but several supporters who did go have told me that the Blackpool side turned in a performance like Bournemouth`s at Bloomfield Road last season, where they kept the ball, knocked it about with confidence and totally bossed the game. This can only be a good sign. Under Steve McMahon, the side back then were bullied out of games - against "bigger boys". Under Colin Hendry, the side lacked any creativity (and some might argue they were also bullied out as well! How did we stay up while he was in charge?). Now it seems we have both creativity and some fight in us.
Ian Evatt and Shaun Barker are both six foot plus at the back (when did we last have two six foot centre backs?) and know how to boss strikers about. In the midfield we have up and coming creative ball players in David Fox and Simon Gillet - the later sounding French on the Bristol City commentary, pronounced Gil-et. He can`t be bad then! Foreign footballers are always better. Zarko Grabovac proves that point. Where is he now I wonder? Another shrewd buy from Monsieur Hendry. I still believe we do need another quality, goal scoring midfield player such as Stuart Green or a Michael Flynn to bolster a weak looking centre midfield area, although Marcus Bean is yet to come back. It is all well and good having "ones for the future" in there, as long as the side have experience as well, which we lack. Whether Stuart Green or Michael Flynn have the correct experience would remain to be seen, but these two players for me would both set Bloomers alight if they were to join.
On Saturday it was so refreshing to hear three forwards get on the score sheet (although I`m pleased for Jackson also!). All three have come in for heavy stick between the Seasiders` fans and I hope Saturday will be a platform for more success in-front of goal in games to come. The triplet of goals were all of the highest quality, especially Scott Vernon`s. For someone low on confidence to stride forward and coolly finish was superb. Keigan Parker`s celebration told me a lot also. He wants to do well for this football club, if the goal scoring scenes are anything to go by. It must be a great feeling to silence critics and get on with doing what you do best, ripping defences apart. Parker was also instrumental in Danny Graham`s well taken left footed curler. I heard on The Football League Review, which is shown on SkySports at Sunday tea time that Graham`s finish was of Premiership quality. He is on loan from Middlesbrough!
The team this year look to be trying to play at a quick tempo, although they weren`t able to against Rotherham, for whatever reason. This is a good move from the management. A quick tempo, especially at home, unnerves the opposition and will have them playing on the back foot, until they drop much deeper and `Pool can then really penetrate and win the game. This tactic is also conducive to attacking football, leaving fans much happier, wanting to support the team more, home and away, if they are to see "good to watch" football. This will also add more onto the gate, because if we do lose a game, but have still been positive, people will think that there is a decent chance of us bouncing back next week, if we play the same way.
Looking at the league table, I did not expect Port Vale to be top (those who read the recent fanzine will have noticed I had them down to go down, which of course is still possible). Chesterfield, like last season, have started exceedingly well considering their wage budget. Bradford also up there, along with Carlisle -who aren`t far off. At the other end of the table, Crewe and Bristol City are both below us. However, we`re only four games in, and saying that anything is surprising is folly. As the great man Colin Hendry told the press after four or five games this time last term - "it`s silly season for results" - showing off his embarrassingly poor press skills. Well, you weren`t wrong Colin!
So, will the Blackpool team of 2006/2007 prove to be the same as those in past years? Or will they buck the trend and make a fist of it in League One? We shall see…