I must be losing my mind. Whenever I mention this Premier League season to friends, family and work colleagues, I get the same line about how fantastic the current campaign has been.
Do not get me wrong- as always, there have been a number of remarkable games and moments to savour over the last ten months- the Premier League remains an incredibly watchable league.
Yet, we as football fans have such short memories. I cannot be alone in lamenting the performance of English clubs in European competition over the last 18 months, yet there seems to be greater excitement that we have more competition to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition than there is concern over poor performance within it.
Talk about celebrating mediocrity. Whilst the general quality of lower and mid table teams has undoubtedly improved, the calibre of those at the top has diminished significantly over the last two seasons.
Putting this niggle aside it is actually one of the season’s supposed highlights, the script of Blackpool’s compelling underdog story, that has frustrated the most. The amnesia amongst some members of the press that appears to erase memories of any season older than the introduction of Sky HD television suggests that little clubs have never shaken the established order before.
Yet, the Seasiders’ “breath of fresh air” is hardly a new concept; Hull City, Ipswich Town, Burnley and Wigan Athletic have been awarded the patronising description in past seasons, only for supporters and media figures to grow frustrated when they sacrifice style for the mundane practice of grabbing Premier League points.
In fairness to Ian Holloway’s men, such cynical point gathering has never been their style. They has displayed attacking instincts that would have kept many other Premier League outfits afloat- it is their defensive failings on which survival hopes have floundered. In fact, such has been the poor quality of defending at times this season that it is hard not to think that the Lancashire club deserve their fate.
Nevertheless, the story has been told so many times before. Take a courageous outfit to have rode their luck through the Championship and resultant play-offs, a loyal fan base who have witnessed their club’s meteoric rise through the lower leagues and a collection of supposedly inferior professionals. Ally this with a charismatic, eccentric manager, maybe a Phil Brown, Paul Jewell, Owen Coyle or in this case Holloway and the cliché is ready to roll.
We should not, however, look at Blackpool’s success as a complete rabbit from the hat. Whilst they are undoubtedly short on big name players- the general squad depth is relatively impressive. When manager Holloway courted trouble in the autumn for fielding a weakened team against Aston Villa, his second string outfit, containing a number of international footballers, had more than enough quality to give the struggling Midlands club a fright.
Neither should it be suggested that Blackpool achievements this season rival the endeavours of Bradford City’s survival ten years ago or Ipswich Town’s remarkable first season at the turn of the century, when it was uncommon for promoted sides to survive at all- staying in the top flight is not anywhere as difficult as it used to be.
Rightly or wrongly, it is Holloway and Scottish midfielder Charlie Adam that have best embodied the Blackpool bandwagon. The former Rangers man in particular has been a journalistic hobby horse in a season where few individuals have shone across the division.
However, regardless of the outcome of the final round of fixtures on Sunday, Adam’s future undoubtedly lies away from Bloomfield Road. History suggests the affections of the football public will go with him. Plucky Blackpool will inevitably become valiant Swansea or Norwich next year.
Such is my cynicism, I don’t really mind if Blackpool stay up or not. I danced a jig when David Wetherall kept Bradford in the league in 2000 and revelled in West Brom’s last gasp survival five seasons later- the Baggies having started the last round of fixtures at the foot of the table.
But now? I found myself completely apathetic. If I miss the final chapter of the Premier League relegation battle on Sunday when Holloway and Adam acclaim their loyal support for the final time as a Premier League club, there will always be next year’s brave pretenders to get behind- the Tangerine dream a distant memory.
Who are you back for Premier League survival? Find me on Twitter for a run down of my picks ahead of the final weekend of fixtures.