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Strategy or Scattergun?

Strategy or Scattergun?

We're all used to promises when it comes to transfer windows and BFC - who can forget chairman Karl Oyston's 'quality not quantity' from last summer?

This summer's promise came from manager Ian Holloway - that he would be much more strategic in the transfer market rather than following the scattergun approach that marred last summer's wheelings and dealings.

Several of last summer's arrivals have already departed the club, some without even making a competitive appearance. That's not to say that we didn't enjoy successes in the transfer market twelve months ago - the likes of Tom Ince and Kevin Phillips both proving to be superb pieces of business.

But how's Ollie's promise holding up this time around?

At face value, everything appears to be much more strategic - we're using a scouting network (rather than just relying on DVDs), inviting players for trials (and putting them up in the club's hotel) to make sure they fit the bill, signing players to fit in with our style of play, signing players for the development squad who are at an age where they could actually develop, and casting our net far and wide to ensure that we get the right mould of player and value for money.

Yet, at the same time, it's clear that we're still utilising a scattergun approach to the transfer market.

Although we now have a scouting system of sorts, Ollie's still working on tip offs from friends in the game. Many other managers do the same and there is nothing wrong with this, provided that the manager has the scouting network in place to examine the player in close quarters for himself - something that Ollie doesn't always have the luxury of, especially as the Seasiders continue to look outside of the UK for new signings.

Further proof of the fallibility of our scouting system comes through an interview with club secretary Matt Williams in yesterday's Blackpool Gazette, with Williams admitting that the club were having to carry out checks on three players that the club are hoping to sign to ensure that they are actually free agents. Whilst I'm by no means criticising the club for carrying out these checks (especially after the Zarko Grabovac incident!), these are the sort of things that a good scouting network would flag up earlier.

The number of trialists to come through the doors this summer also smacks of a scattergun approach. Whilst it makes perfect sense to take a closer look at players before making them an offer, the fact that we're looking at so many illustrates that Ollie is desperate to plug the gaps in his development squad (and to a lesser extent, first team) - understandable given the lack of players to come through the Seasiders' own youth ranks in recent years (hopefully this will be an area that improves the longer Ollie stays at the club).

In Ollie's defence, he is sometimes forced to take this approach because of the financial shackles imposed on him by Karl Oyston - the unsuccessful trial this week of Leeds striker Billy Paynter illustrating this perfectly.

That said, the wealth of central midfielders now at the club makes you question whether he has a set strategy in that particular area of the pitch - does everyone represent a set piece in his jigsaw, or has he simply tried to cover all bases? Strategy or scattergun?

It's clear that Ollie has a very set style of play that he wants us to follow, but what's his Plan B when things are going against us (using a target man aside)? After all, for all of their quality, Spain crashed and burned at the Olympics.

As always, there are plenty of questions as well as answers and trying to second guess the manager - especially one as eccentric as Ollie - is a dangerous game. For the time being though, it appears that the Seasiders does have a strategy of sorts in mind, but that it will require refining as time goes by. After all, as Ollie himself said recently: he tends to make some of it up as he goes along!

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Writer:Eamonn Moore
Date:Friday August 3 2012
Time: 1:39PM

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