Can You Cut It?
Replacing 'cut' with 'kick' in the title, and you've got lyrics from 'Pool's left back Robbie Williams' 'Rock DJ' - and forum member, Abel takes a look who can cut (or kick) it in The Championship from our squad....
A few weeks ago, while Pool were busy dispatching of Northampton 4-1, I was watching Lincoln City being turned over by relegation strugglers Wrexham 3-0 down in League Two. Whilst watching that match, it struck me just how few of the players on display were probably good enough to make an impression in League One.
With Blackpool potentially one game away from promotion to the Championship, manager Simon Grayson's mind will naturally be turning to which, if any, of his current set of players could be capable of making the step up to said league.
There's no doubt that Grayson has built up the best Blackpool squad seen in years, but just how many of them could do a job for him in the league above?
Let's start with the goalkeepers. Obviously we've only got Joe Hart in on an emergency loan, but it's clear to tell from the few games he's played for us that the lad's a different class and you can see why Manchester City were prepared to part with a transfer fee that could rise to £1.5 million for the young keeper. If Larry were able to snatch him on loan next season should we go up, then it would present a real coup. Our other on loan keeper Paul Rachubka, although currently injured, has impressed me and with his contract at Hddersfield up at the end of the season, I'd definately look to sign him on a permanent basis, regardless of what league we're playing in next season. As for Rhys Evans, there's no doubt that he's a decent keeper, but he really hasn't settled in his time at the seaside and I've got large question marks over his ability to cut it in the Championship. Finally, Lewis Edge. This lad has potential and I hope that we retain his services for next season regardless of what league we're in. The only negative point against Edge is his lack of first team experience, but a season long loan would soon sort that.
Moving into defence, let's start with the troublesome left back position. Robbie Williams is the current choice in our 'problem position' and there's no doubt that he's made a big impression at Bloomfield Road, both through his general play and the crucial goals that he has contributed in recent weeks. If my memory serves me correctly, his contract expires at Barnsley in the summer and I'd definately look into signing him on a permanent basis if I were Larry, again, regardless of what division we find ourselves in next year. As for the other loan players who have featured in this position over the course of the season, both Carl Dickinson and Andy Wilkinson would be good signings. It's hard to believe that Dickinson is only nineteen and if Stoke were to reach the Premiership, then they may be willing to let him go out on loan. As for Wilkinson, he appears to have fallen down the pecking order somewhat and with his versatility, I'd certainly enquire about him. The only downpoint about him is his injury problems; they're the only thing that have prevented him from establishing himself at Stoke and obviously it's always a risk signing an injury prone player. As for the players on permanent contracts at the club, although Paul Tierney has never done anything wrong whenever I've seen him play, I'm not sure if he would be capable of making the step up. Then there's Coidy. I fear that Coidy will be off in the summer, but if he can keep himself fit, I'd keep him; his versatility could be crucial in the Championship (should we get there) and having him covering a number of positions might mean that we can free up wages to sign a/some player(s) that could really add something to the team. As for our centre halves, obviously Ian Evatt failed to make an impression at QPR in the league aove, but personally, I think he's a better player than Clarkey and if Clarkey's impressed Southend fans, then Evatt can do a job for us. Sadly, I think that Michael Jackson's lack of pace would count against him in the league above and he would be one that we would have to cast aside as it were. On the limited occaisions that I've seen Kaspars, I think that he's Championship class. Meanwhile, sadly for Phil Doughty, I think that if he were good enough, he'd have made an impression on the first team by now. It's always difficult letting players go who have just come back from a major injury, but sadly football's a harsh business. The other centre half to play for us thiss season was of course Forest's Vincent Fernandez. The fact that he's now on loan at Saint Albans speaks volumes to me. At right back, Shaun Barker is nailed on in my opinion as being a player who could cut the mustard in the Championship. Last but not least, I think that Marc Joseph would actually provide useful cover should we go up, but I fully expect him to be off in the summer, especially as he turned down a move to Darlington over the Christmas period.
Into midfield, and the name that immediately jumps out at you is 'Wes Hoolahan'. The Irishman is easily Capable of making the step up to the Championship and obviously if we make it there, we'll all have our fingers crossed that he signs for the Mighty permantly. His only comedowns are his lack of strength and the fact that he could potentially tire around Christmas time again as he struggles to adapt to the English season. In the middle, Keith Southern, David Fox and Claus are all capable of playing in the division above in my opinion, as might be Simon Wiles if he is retained and given another chance to impress. The fact that Marcus Bean's got nowhere near the first team this season speaks volumes to me and I don't think that either of Adrian Forbes or Chris Brandon are capable of the step up. As for Simon Gillett, he's a strange case. He hasn't impressed since his return to the seaside, but the fact that Southampton have offered him a new contract shows that George Burley must have seen something in him. Then there's Matty Kay. I know that we've not seen him feature for the first team, but this lad has real potential and it might be worth givng him a few games here and there should suitable occaisions arise; after all, both Everton and Spurs were scouting him before he signed professional terms with the Seasiders.
Lastly, moving into attack, I think that all four of our main strikers could do a job for us in the Championship. Andy Morrell's work rate always causes teams problems, while if Keigan can keep his head down and work hard, there's no doubt that his pace would cause teams problems. Scott Vernon is an interesting case. He's neither a pacy striker or a target man, but the fact that Colchester wanted to sign him permantly says to me that they obviously thought he could do a job in the league above, and given how well they've done, that's good enough for me to suggest that Larry keep Scott on should we go up. As for Burgess, you'd hope that if we did go up, that we'd some more of him. Certainly, there'd be occaisions where we'd be under the cosh and looking for an out ball and somebody to hold up the play; Ben could be that man. Plus, considering the fee we paid for him, it'd be nonsensical to cast him aside after just one season. As for Blinks and Patto, if they were good enough, then you would think that they'd have played more games for the first team.
So to summarise, if we were to go up, I would look to retain/re-sign the services of the following players:
Of course, that is just my opinion and Larry will have his own and will our members, which will be interesting to see. First though, we have to get to the Championship, and who knows, it might just happen this weekend.