The Vital View
First up, an apology. Jack tried to write a match preview prior to Saturday's game against Newcastle, but the Admin CP kept timing out on him. I then experienced the same problem when it came to writing a match report, hence why neither have appeared on the site. Still, given Saturday's result, perhaps it's best that way?...
I wouldn't be the Editor that I am though (guffaw) if I didn't offer some perspective on the current situation at Bloomfield Road.
So Frank, look away now because I don't want to upset you - this article will be critical in places. Once again, I'm putting myself up to be shot at, but as long as Burgess is doing the shooting, I'll be fine... ;).
So, last Saturday. Part of me really expected us to get a result, and I wasn't alone; many other Seasiders also felt that we could once again upset the odds and return from Geordieland with the three points.
The script was written for us: Newcastle already promoted, given time off to celebrate, unbeaten at home... everything was set up for the Seasiders to once again crash the big boys party.
However, perhaps that was the problem? When we beat them earlier in the season, no one expected us to. This time, there was a weight of expectation, and I think it's fair to say that both the pressure and expectation got to the players who simply didn't turn up or stick to the script.
We seem to achieve more when no one expects us to. When we're expected to do something, we don't... still, that's always been the Blackpool way hasn't it? We never do things the easy way... (insert generic rollercoaster metaphor).
Earlier in the season we had a midweek game where if we won, we could go fourth. We didn't though, we lost. Ian Holloway admitted after the game that the pressure had got to the players, and it seems like the same happened on Saturday. As much as Ollie has helped change the mindset of the club, now and again we get a reminder of the past... and Saturday was a reminder all right: it was almost as if the players didn't think that they were good enough from the outset... just look at the goals we conceded... woeful, with none of the typical spirit or fight on display from the Seasiders. As Ollie said, it was lions v lambs.
The benefit of Saturday's defeat though is that it further highlights just how important this summer is. If we're going to continue to progress, Ollie's going to have to twist more than he sticks.
Yes, we've got a good team and had a great season, but we now need to be looking at building a very good team... and from what he's said, I have no doubt that Ollie thinks the same, and it'll be interesting to see how much money he's given to play with.
Time to criticise Ollie though I'm afraid. As soon as I saw the team he'd picked on Saturday, I knew he'd got it wrong. The key to our win against Newcastle earlier in the season was defending from the front, but by picking Burgess up top, we were never going to do that on Saturday, which gave Newcastle time to play the ball out to the likes of Nolan, Jonas and Routledge who ran the show because we sat back and didn't get in their faces.
Furthermore, the chances we were going to get were probably going to be few and far between, so why he played our best striker on the wing is beyond me (yes, I do know that DJ missed a great chance at 1-0).
Still, I'm sure that lessons have been learned and that everyone is determined to put things right against Forest this Saturday.
Saturday is massive. The Championship is impossible to predict, but I just feel that this might be the weekend that our playoff dreams either die or really come to life.
Chris Hughton thinks we can do it. Keith Southern thinks we can do it. Jimmy Armfield thinks we can do it. All we have to do is believe (and play well!).
Forest are poor on the road and have said that they may rest players, but they've got great squad depth, meaning that even if they do, it'll still be a very hard game.
Forest aside though, a word on our goal difference. A few of you are worried that our goal difference took a hefty blow on Saturday. Don't be. If we're going to make the playoffs, we're going to have to win games, which will obviously cancel out the damage done on Saturday. Our goal difference is still streets ahead of Swansea, who we're probably now competing with for the last playoff spot. As Corporal Jones would say: Don't panic.
Anyway, I think that's everything I wanted to say... not sure I've quite said it how I wanted to though, but nevermind... I'm tired from work. Still, life could be worse... I could be a Nobber. :)
Onwards + Upwards.