Blackpool manager, Ian Holloway, has insisted that he is not worried by the prospect of his captain and best player, Charlie Adam, leaving Bloomfield Road this summer, because the situation is not in his control. The club, who find themselves languishing in the relegation zone with 5 League games remaining, turned down bids from Tottenham and Liverpool for the Scottish midfielder in January, and it is thought he will leave this summer no matter which division his current team will be playing in next season.
A growing number of observers believe that speculation linking Adam with a departure from Blackpool has unsettled the club, pointing to the team’s run of two wins in 16 games since the turn of the year to support this view. In my opinion, Blackpool were right to reject the bids offered to them in January, not just because they were rightly considered by Holloway as disrespecting the club and the player’s quality, but also because without him, the Tangerines may have been further adrift at the foot of the table by now.
If he had been sold, and Blackpool embarked on a similar or worse run than they have recently endured, then his sale would have been the principal factor in the club’s demise, something Holloway would have been unable to justifiably contest. The actual reason for the team’s slide down the table is that the squad isn’t good enough. Sure they have suffered a number of injuries in each position throughout the campaign, but not significantly enough to distinguish them from any other club.
Blackpool are not the only team in recent history to achieve promotion to the Premier League for the first time, play above themselves in the opening stages when others are still finding their feet and then get found out after January when other teams work out how to beat them with ease. Hull won promotion to the top flight for the first time in 2008 and were beaten just once in their opening nine games, which included a 2-1 defeat of Arsenal at the Emirates and a 1-0 win against Spurs at White Hart Lane. Despite this feat, the Tigers won just twice in the League after their autumn honeymoon and entered the final game of the season one precarious position above the relegation zone and with more than one keen eye on other results. They were beaten 1-0 by Manchester United but survived after Middlesbrough and Newcastle were also defeated, by West Ham and Aston Villa respectively, ensuring a second season in the Premiership.
The squad’s true ability was discovered the following season as they were relegated with 30 points, and it would be difficult for Holloway to avoid acknowledging parallels with Hull, even though Blackpool have already attained 33 points from as many games.
Without a doubt, Blackpool have provided Premier League onlookers with immeasurable entertainment and colour this season, not least because of their bright kit, goal-laden games and eccentric manager, which far succeeds the dour and uninteresting insipidness offered by Hull and Phil Brown over two terms. Unfortunately, the Tangerines joined the Premier League at the start of what has become an unusual season, where as many as eleven clubs face the prospect of relegation with just a handful of games remaining. As much as I would personally like to see them survive, it seems likely that Holloway will be once again managing in the Championship come August, but at least he can recognise that maintaining Adam’s services is the reason they still have a shout at such a late stage.
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