After the 2-2 draw with Forest, despite conceding a last minute equaliser and not playing their best football, I said Blackpool were on the brink of being back. Well, that was confirmed as they put on a display in which they totally dominated the game from start to finish.
In spells the Seasiders were back to their fluent best against Brighton, who became the latest team to leave Bloomfield Road with a footlballing lesson. Except this time, unlike Middlesborough or Ipswich, the Seagulls managed to escape with a precious point to leave the Blackpool fans and players feeling a bit deflated.
Yet it does feel slightly odd to be fairly pleased with disappointment after Saturday’s game, but Blackpool fans will know the feeling. For the last month or more, out of nowhere they have seen their team abandon an enthralling style of play and go out with a whimper. Now though, in the last two matches, Blackpool have been back. Not back to their best by any means, but back to what we have come to expect. Passing, attacking, nice-to-watch, occasionally furious football.
The match, as you would expect between two sides struggling for form, wasn’t the free-flowing, mouth-watering, get-you-off-your-seat goal fest that we might have seen if this fixture had been back in August. But it was Blackpool who stepped up and controlled the game from the off. The midfield three of Osbourne, Angel and Grandin kept the ball with ease and used it well. Matt Phillips was on his preferred right flank and looks to be coming into a bit of form. He looked sharp and for the first time in a while, he seemed fast. Really fast, like we know he can be and how he was when he was on fire last season.
At the back there was one change with Broadfoot coming in for the club scapegoat Eardley. Whether this was enforced (Eardley wasn’t even on the bench) or was just a good old fashioned case of being dropped was never really explained, but his replacement did reasonably well. Although he looked ungainly running down the wing, he did so regularly and defensively he was assured. Except of course for the one major catastrophe which resulted in the Brighton goal. It is debatable who was more at fault, Gilks or Broadfoot, but all we can say for sure is that it was a shambles. For what it’s worth, I would say that regardless of the poor header back to him, Gilks should have taken command and got his hands on the ball.
At the other end, Brighton somehow survived chance after chance as Blackpool simply couldn’t make their pressure tell. Ince, Baptiste, Phillips and a host of others missed a plethora of chances ranging from ‘absolute sitter’ to ‘tricky but should have scored’. But don’t believe me, take it from Gus Poyet who said in his post-match “I don’t think it was a fair result because Blackpool were by far the better team so I think we should be delighted with a point. Football is a funny game. Sometimes you can create 10 or 20 chances and get nothing. Here we did nothing and I don’t know how we scored.”
Fortunately, there was one player out there who had something to prove, and prove himself he did. Elliot Grandin is seemingly playing for his shirt now having been brought back in from the cold. Fortunately, it appears he is determined to show what he can do as he got his head to a cross from Matt Phillips to finish a move that was a carbon-copy of his goal against Forest just four days earlier.
So, after 90 minutes of domination and a shedload of chances created, the Blackpool players were clapped of the pitch by an appreciative crowd. Overall, maybe disappointing to only take one point, but the players and manager can be happy with the way the point was gained and use it as a platform to build upon.
Hopefully, if sense prevails, Holloway will still be here to do that building. I think if anybody is going to snatch Ollie away then it will be this week. If you believe everything you read, then Holloway is to join Blackburn, Ipswich, Burnley (job now given to Sean Dyche) and Palace this week, so he might have his work cut out.
In all honesty, It’s hard to see why any of those clubs are a better proposition than Blackpool. None of them have a better squad than here at the seaside, and it is a squad that he has built himself, so surely Holloway is happy with it.
The fanbase of each club is, at the moment, fairly even. Although the training facilities are almost certainly of a better standard than at Blackpool, I can’t imagine that swaying a manager. And while some Blackpool fans will say he would jump at the chance to work with anybody other than Karl Oyston, I can’t see him being happy with any chairman, least of all Mr Singh at Blackburn.
Palace is a club where he would get time to put his stamp on the club, but he hasn’t finished doing that at Blackpool yet so again, why move?
In fact, the one side that is most strongly linked with him is Blackburn, which aside from monetary benefits would seem a bizarre move. He wouldn’t get enough time to reverse 5 years of hoofball, he would have to deal with owners who stick their nose in and he would have to perform in front of impatient fans.
It is probably (definitely) a biased view but I do think he should stick around, and not just from a fans perspective. I think the football he has his side playing is the result of 3 years hard graft. For him this was his aim when he arrived. He constantly talked about his year out of management after being sacked by Leicester and always said he would never again leave a club where he was contracted. He could easily get this Blackpool team promoted and have another crack at the big time and achieve all the things he set out to do.
I think Blackpool still have work to do to get back on top of their game, and although I am worried, I do think Holloway will be around to make sure they do.