Date:Monday June 9 2008
Just a little over a year ago, Blackpool FC won promotion to The Championship for the first time in 29 years. A fantastic achievement and it sent a buzz around the town like I've never experienced before.
The fans' messageboards were full of messages eager 'Pool locals and exiles looking forward to the season ahead.
The return of the proper Lancashire derbies.
Ex-Premiership teams like Charlton and Sheffield United coming to the seaside, not to mention household names like Robbie Fowler, Jimmy-Floyd Hasslebaink, James Beattie to name but three.
An influx of faces into the club to ensure a fight for survival would not be the outcome of the season.
OK, so the last point is more than wishful thinking, but this season, there has never been a greater need for team strengthening.
No fewer than 11 players have left the club this pre-season. We have a solitary goalkeeper on our books. We have 3 strikers in Burgess, McPhee and Morrell (should Morrell actually sign a new contract!) and our club captain for the last 2 seasons has also been sent packing.
Adding to this tale of woe, is the constant speculation regarding the futures of 3 of our top players from last season.
If rumours are to be believed, Wes Hoolahan has already signed for Championship rivals Norwich City, as a replacement for the released Darren Huckerby, Kaspars Gorkss will sign/has already signed for QPR and Stephen Crainey has spoken to the Dingles about a potential switch to the 1960's!!
Of course, rumours are rumours, but Hoolahan certainly seems to be one player on his way out of the club, with a measly 250k price-tag for his signature...even though FIFA have still to rule on a compensation package between Livingston and The Seasiders after Hoolahan's move LAST pre-season which was clouded in confusion on all fronts!
Gorkss is another player with an alleged 'release clause' in his contract for £250,000 (if The Gazette are to be believed!) while Stephen Crainey is the latest to be pin-pointed as having the same stipulation, sparking speculation that his 'Pool future is also up in the air.
Make no mistake about it, if the pair leave, they'd be a massive loss to the 'Pool. They cleaned house at the Player Of The Year awards this year...need any more be said?
With Leicester still without a manager, Milan Madaric's latest puppet could yet be Simon Grayson. Having been linked to the job since last year, the speculation just won't go away - not helped by Oyston's response of 'if he wants to leave, he can do' (paraphrased, of course) to the growing interest in 'Pool's talented manager.
The pre-season friendlies have also failed to capture the fans' imaginations. Of course the Fleetwood fixture was bound to happen - albeit with a reduced capacity, due to their on-going ground developments...*cough*
Tranmere and Wrexham away from home are hardly mouth-watering, while St Mirren at Bloomfield Road will probably be one of those games that I turn up to for the hell of it, just to get a fix of the team before they start the season. No disrespect to St Mirren, I'm sure their fans will be up for it, but as far as I'm concerned at this moment in time, I can't say that I am.
Anyone know where the Lancaster City friendly has disappeared to??? Not exactly the best opposition, but a good day out in the summer, not too far away!
Amidst all this, though, the signing of Marlon Broomes appears to have gone pretty much un-noticed by the Seasiders community.
The defender, released by Stoke following their promotion last season, signed last week on a free transfer. Despite being plagued by an injury last season and not playing in a single game, Grayson obviously thinks highly enough of him to bring him to the Seaside, presumably to fill the gap left by Michael Jackson's departure.
There's still time for players to arrive - afterall, we're only in the 2nd week of June - but with speculation surrounding our players leaving, many are worried that sooner rather than later, our squad will be thinner than Victoria Beckham!
It seems the only way this cloud of doom and gloom will depart from Bloomfield Road is with a number of in-coming signings...for fees, not frees!
With us being the smallest club in the division - capacity-wise - next season, being the bookies favourites for the drop and having a tiny squad to say the least at this moment in time, it's safe to say action is needed sooner rather than later before we all slump into a summer depression reading about teams interested in signing our better players, for knock-down prices!
Date:Monday June 9 2008
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