The Puncheon Conundrum
A quick glance at our forums will tell you that not everyone agrees with each other when it comes to BFC (would be a pretty boring world if they did!).
But one area that everyone has been agreed upon of late is that on loan winger Jason Puncheon has impressed every time he's pulled on a tangerine shirt, which raises the question why he's not been a regular fixture in the side of late?
When we signed him on January (with a view to a permanent deal), he was seen as somewhat of a coup having turned down Newcastle to join the Seasiders. Indeed, he'd been on his way to sign on the dotted line at St. James' when a phonecall from Ian Holloway saw him change direction and head to Blackpool instead!
Bearing that in mind, you would have thought that Puncheon would be a regular in the side, and indeed, he certainly got a chance to impress in his first few weeks at the club by being selected for games.
And impress he did, whether it be on the wing or in the hole behind the striker.
Since then though, nothing. But why?
There was some speculation that he wasn't in the mix for the Newcastle game because of his comments made pre-match praising Alan Pardew.
Now, I know that Newcastle are still sniffing round Puncheon (and it may be the case that he's not playing because he's told Ollie that he's going to sign for them instead of us in the summer after all... but in that case, why has he been included on the bench every week?!), but for me, Puncheon's Pardew comments were just your run of the mill footballer praising an ex manager comments. I'm sure that in a similar situation, he would also praise Ollie (who signed him for Plymouth). Indeed, he thought enough of Ollie to sign for him ahead of Pardew in January for starters.
What is even more bizarre is that Matt Phillips has been getting a start ahead of him in recent times.
Now we all know that Phillips is a good prospect for the future, but he's not been playing well for a while now (the reasons for which could probably form another article).
His selection is even more bizarre when you consider that immediately before he was put back into the team, club employee John Woodman defended his abscence from the side by saying that he was exhausted. If he's exhausted, then why is he playing for the first team in such important games?!
It was even more bizarre to see him not come off the bench on Saturday against Stoke; we were clearly struggling to attack them effectively, and Puncheon was arguably the obvious change in that he'd have got the ball down and run at them - the key behind our victory at the Britannia, but also the reason (in the sense that we failed to do it) why we failed so miserably in attack at the weekend.
Players of Puncheon's mould can often run down dead ends with the ball, but whenever he has run at the opposition since signing for the Seasiders, it's always been with purpose; whether to create an opportunity for someone else or to shoot himself (another reason why he should be in the side - he's not afraid to shoot). Rarely has he been wasteful. Indeed, an article on here after he played a few games for us demonstrated just how well he was sticking to the role given to him by Ollie.
Of course we're not privy to Ian Holloway's thought process and the reasons why he's not been selecting Puncheon (thus can only speculate), but if it's because there are question marks over his future, then we'd suggest that Ollie examine the situation again; there are question marks over Charlie Adam's, David Vaughan's and Matt Gilks' futures and yet they're still in the side week in week out.
And if he's not being selected for purely footballing reasons, then is it further indication that Ollie is losing the plot per se? After all, not even the most vehement of Gary Taylor-Fletcher or Matt Phillips fans could successfully argue for their inclusion in the side ahead of Puncheon on current form.
As the title of this article states, it really is a conundrum. Here's hoping that Ollie has the solution.