This season has been interesting to say the least.
Currently on the lookout for our 3rd manager of the season, having not sacked anyone, it would be fair to question what exactly is going on at Bloomfield Road. On the pitch, we went from absolutely sublime to utterly terrible in the first two months, and have since been stagnating somewhere in the middle. We have also seen a surface go from football pitch to quagmire and now fans, probably rightly so, are starting to get more than a little irritated.
As an outsider looking in, I’m not sure what you’d think of Blackpool at the minute. Having inexplicably lost Ian Holloway to Crystal Palace, Michael Appleton lasted only 10 weeks in the hot-seat before deciding he would rather ply his trade down the road, at the farcically managed Blackburn Rovers. Not surprisingly, Appleton’s time in charge was actually the shortest tenure of any Blackpool manager.
Since then, we lost at Charlton after a pretty dismal performance and then went out of the FA cup after losing to Fulham in extra time. We were hours away from appointing a manager before Sean O’Driscoll decided he would rather manage bottom of the league Bristol City than have a stint with Blackpool.
And now, well, who knows. We are talking to a lot of managers trying to find the right guy. Probably feeling a little vulnerable after choosing Appleton, who decided to walk out, the board are taking longer to weigh up the options and appoint a manager. However, every time we ask for permission to talk to anyone, Sky Sports say that he is going to be named out next manager and messageboards go into meltdown, writing him off before he has even picked up the phone to speak to us.
So yes, things are confusing and frustrating at the minute, but what we need to remember is that this sort of stuff can happen. It’s football, and we all know how detached from reality football is. Stuff happens, we move on and then more stuff happens. That’s football.
Most sane fans know that despite our varied shortcomings, we do things the right way at Blackpool when it comes to transfers. Same goes with managers. We try out best not to disclose information before a deal is done, we ask permission to speak to players and managers, and we pay what we consider to be what they are worth.
Unfortunately, virtually every other club doesn’t. Almost all of them will contact a player without speaking to his club, or chat to a manager before they have spoken to his chairman. Other clubs or players agents are so willing to give out information that we end up with a million “Sky Sources” stories linking every player west of Australia to Blackpool. And when it comes to money, clubs are far too willing to cave in and pay the player and agent whatever they want.
The thing with football fans is that they just want everything, and want it now. Yet, they spend countless hours down the pub moaning about how much it costs to watch football, how much players earn and how certain players aren’t worth their transfer fee. Well I’m sorry but, in my opinion, you can’t stand there and complain that football players are overpaid, and then in the next sentence say we should have offered a guy more money and he wouldn’t have gone elsewhere.
Who is in the wrong here? Is it Blackpool, and by that I mean Karl Oyston, or is it other clubs? Should we move with the modern game and start spending more money, or should we stick to our principals and not get dragged into the overspending that is so criticised nowadays? To be honest, I don’t know. I can see merit in doing both. I’m quite happy knowing that our players don’t earn ridiculous amounts of money and that they remain quite grounded. I take great pleasure in watching players turn us down to take more money elsewhere and then end up playing League 1 or 2 football. On the other hand, it is a shame when our players aren’t rewarded properly, like the team that gained promotion to the Premier League. And it would be nice to sign a player I’ve heard of who is in form and at a good stage in his career. Like I said, I’m not sure which way is the right way, but I don’t mind either.
I’d love football to be more like what we see at Blackpool, where players are paid reasonable wages (extortionate compared to the real-world) and then get performance related bonuses. I’d love to see transfer fees stay mainly in single figured millions, certainly for the majority of players. Is Daniel Sturridge worth £15 million? Of course not. I’m sure we would all like the game to be more rational, but it isn’t. Does that mean it is right?
What can’t be defended here is the lack of investment in the playing surface. Where transfer fees come down to greed, and I’m more than happy to tell players to shove it, but when it comes to the pitch, it is something which should always have investment. I don’t have a craving for a new training ground, or new seats in the ground, or a new stand, but the very basic thing that the players and staff need is a decent pitch. When you’re a kid all you needed was 4 jumpers, a ball and some grass. We have posts, we have footballs, but we have no grass.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it can be fixed this season. Relaying the pitch now would probably mean we have to have a new pitch every game. Nothing will be able to bed-in during this weather. Nonetheless, if it comes to the summer and there has been no investment in the pitch, I will happily jump on the moaning, groaning bandwagon.
My point, in all this ranting, is that I know there are lots of things wrong about our club, but there are lots of things right about it and at the end of it all, it is my club. I don’t mean it should be in my control, I mean this is the club I support.
And that is where a difference lies. Some people, the ‘fans’, believe this is their club and their opinion should carry a lot of weight. If they don’t like a manager, they should be able to get him sacked. When things start to go wrong, on or off the pitch, they boo and protest and eventually, stop turning up.
‘Supporters’ on the other hand, support the club and the team. They discuss what is going on, get irate about it, argue about it and even shout about it, but when saturday comes, they will still be there. Supporters realise that even if a player or manager or owner is doing something wrong, they won’t be here forever, unlike them.
I think the best way to put it is that I am a football fan and a Blackpool supporter. I just hope there are more like me and that people can get past the politics of it all and remember why they started watching. Nobody ever came to a game based on the infrastructure and financial standing of a club and its owner, so why should that be a reason to stop going?
Let’s see how things turn out, enjoy the ride and support our club.
Up the ‘Pool.