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Can Blackpool 'shock troops' win last battle?

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Phil McNulty | 06:35 UK time, Friday, 20 May 2011

Jimmy Armfield's mind will flash back almost 40 years when he takes his seat at Old Trafford on Sunday to watch Blackpool fight the odds for one final time in a bid to secure Premier League survival.

Armfield played the last of his 627 games for Blackpool against United at Bloomfield Road in May 1971 - the day they dropped out of English football's top tier and into the lower divisions, where they stayed until they returned under Ian Holloway's colourful leadership this season.

Now Blackpool's immediate future will be shaped in another last-day meeting with United, newly-crowned champions for a record 19th time and possessing a proud record of dropping only two points at home this season.

Blackpool, in all likelihood, will require victory at Old Trafford to survive unless Wigan Athletic lose at Stoke City and Tottenham beat Birmingham by a margin that pushes them below The Seasiders on goal difference.

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'Most important game of my life' - Blackpool boss Ian Holloway

It is an occasion - and an equation - that has been exercising the mind of the former England captain and iconic Blackpool figure whose rich contribution to their history has been immortalised with a stand at one end of Bloomfield Road and a recently-unveiled statue outside the stadium.

He told me: "I've been thinking a lot about this game and of course the fact that I played my last game for Blackpool against United, a game that turned out to be our last in the old First Division, and it took us 40 years to get back.

"I don't think they could have picked a harder match. When we played them on the last day of the season all those years ago it was at home so this is the toughest task they could have had had."

Blackpool's approach, and their ability to surprise, means that Armfield will travel to Manchester on Sunday with hope in his heart that they can somehow emerge as survivors from what is sure to be a nerve-shredding final day of the Premier League season.

He said: "The team that Ian Holloway has are football's shock troops in that nobody gave them a chance of getting out of the Championship last season, they started that as favourites for relegation, and they surprised us by getting up through the play-offs. Everybody said they were relegation certainties this season and they have surprised everyone - so why can't they do it one more time?

"If you had said at the start of the season that this team was going to get 39 points you might have settled for that. They have done extremely well and could have had a few more points if they had not conceded as many late goals.

"They have had eight games where they have lost goals in the last two minutes and they have had one or two decisions go against them as well when they might have had penalties in games they have lost against Manchester United and Arsenal.

"If they survive it would be astonishing. This is a club with a £10m budget and they have not gone into the red - the chairman Karl Oyston won't allow that. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United are in the red but not Blackpool."

Holloway, perhaps in an attempt to foster a siege mentality and galvanise Blackpool to climb another mountain, claims the Premier League would be "relieved" to see the back of him and his team.

Armfield, in contrast, believes Blackpool will carry a wave of sympathy and support from outsiders into Old Trafford as reward for their bold philosophy that has illuminated this campaign.

"They have been the real entertainers this season and established themselves as a lot of people's second favourite team. They have conceded a lot more goals than everybody else but they have also scored a lot more than most teams outside the top five or six," said Armfield.

"It has been an all-out attacking policy that the manager has had. They can't prop a game up so they keep bombing forward and I certainly don't see that changing on Sunday.

"It started at Wigan with that 4-0 win on the opening day of the season. They ran all over Wigan and could have scored a lot more.

"Holloway's attitude seems to have been it is better to play two games, win one and get three points rather than play two and get two draws and just take the two points, and with the players he's got it has worked."

Armfield added: "Irrespective of whether they go down on Sunday, the manager and the players have done themselves and the town great credit this season. They have carried the support with them and, as I said, won a lot of support from the fans of other clubs as well. I think they will have a lot of sympathy and support behind them at Old Trafford.

"I think everyone has enjoyed them but the simple truth is that there is also a hard-nosed point about this as well. You have to try and preserve your position at least. There is black and white not just the grey area in the middle where you are entertaining but there is always the hard-nose part of trying to make sure you stay up."

Blackpool led Man Utd 2-0 at home in January before going down 3-2 - photo: Getty

Blackpool will rely heavily on the talismanic figure of Scotland midfield man Charlie Adam at Old Trafford, probably playing his final game for the club before a summer move, but Armfield insists this season has not been a one-man show on the field.

"Everybody talks about Charlie Adam," he said. "But there is a lot more to Blackpool than Charlie Adam. People like Alex Baptiste and Ian Evatt, as well as the likes of David Vaughan, Stephen Crainey and Gary Taylor-Fletcher, have come up from the lower divisions and done themselves real credit in the Premier League this season."

The vexed question of whether Ferguson will field a so-called weakened team with the title won and preparations about to begin for the Champions League final against Barcelona is dismissed by Armfield.

He said: "There has been talk of a weakened United team but that is too obvious a point to make and there is nothing obvious in football.

"They have dropped two points at home all season and Sir Alex Ferguson is a tough guy, someone I would call a streetfighter. He won't want to lose at home to a team down near the bottom of the table.

"He proved that when they went to Hull City and won a couple of seasons ago. I don't care what other people say, if you take it as a squad it is the strongest he has ever had because he can double up all around and no-one else can do that.

"He may not have the players he has had in the past, you can always say that, but they have reached the Champions League Final and won the Premier League with a match to go and still some people are saying they are not as good as they were."

As the action starts around the Premier League and Blackpool join Wigan, Wolves, Blackburn and Birmingham in fighting for their lives, Armfield is convinced The Seasiders may just be cast in the role of safety net for those unable to fashion their own way out of trouble.

"It will certainly be a tense day on Sunday, days like this always are because there is so much at stake for everyone involved. I think the other teams fighting against relegation are banking on Blackpool losing at Manchester United and they will try to avoid being the third team."

Armfield's eyes will be firmly on Blackpool as he hopes a dark day in their history is not about to repeat itself.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I hope United turn them over. I've got a bottle of champagne ready to pop when they do.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good luck Blackpool. I'd like them and Wigan to stay up, Birmingham and A. N. Other to go down.

  • Comment number 3.

    Holloway and Blackpool have been a breath of fresh air this season. Out of all the teams battling relegation they deserve to stay up as total underdogs. Whatever the outcome this season has chaned the fortunes of that club for generations with the income generated this season and if relegated through the parachute payments, but also with renewed fanbase with the younger generations witnessing top level football.
    I also wonder what next for Holloway, his stock has risen throught the roof with this season from someone that wouldnt of been given the opportunity at the premier league had he not got a team promoted to now someone who must be a contender for higher budget jobs, could a Villa, Blackburn or maybe West Ham come calling.

  • Comment number 4.

    The downward spiral happened after that game against United when, already 2-0 up, they were denied probably the most obvious penalty of the season. If that had been awarded and converted (after all, penalties CAN be missed) I don't think United would have come back from that and a win against them would have given Blackpool the momentum, I feel, to kick on from there and survive comfortably. Yes, they were unlucky with refereeing decision in subsequent games (against Arsenal, for instance) but the catalyst for Blackpool's plummet down the table was that game against United. I'm not having a dig at Man U or their fans but the ref that day (Peter Walton) bottled it big time.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good luck Blackpool! I'd also like to see Wolves stay up too.

  • Comment number 6.

    I can't see anything other than a Utd win to honest. Which is a shame really because Blackpool have been very entertaining for the neutral. Even if Sir Alex does field a 'reserve' side, the XI he sends out will be looking to impress and earn a place in the champs league final squad.

    Blackpool could do well to maybe just keep an eye on the other games, which I'm sure they will be doing anyway. A 1-0 defeat at OT and a 3-0 defeat for B'ham and/or Wigan could keep them up. All 3 teams find themselves in a situation where they could lose and stay up but could win and still go down!

    On another point, going down wouldn't be the end of the world for Blackpool. Theyve not broke the bank to try and stay up. As mentioned they are not in debt, parashute payments to come if they did go down, cash in on Adams and then rebuild for next season and come back stronger next time. Abit like West Brom, look at them now.

  • Comment number 7.

    If Wolves and Blackpool stay up it will be a good day for football.

  • Comment number 8.

    #7: I agree entirely. I'd love to see Wolves and Blackpool survive, and ideally I'd like to see Blackburn go down, if just to teach their owners a lesson and make everyone else think twice before hopping on to the managerial merry-go-round again. Wigan and Birmingham I'm not fussed about, but I guess I'd like to see Birmingham stay up so they can keep their better players and actually have a decent go at the Europa League next year.

  • Comment number 9.

    I openly confess that Blackpool are a much more exciting team to watch than my team Birmingham. I can't see much quality coming from Wigan, Wolves or Blackburn, so I think it's only fair that two of those three go down. I know that we haven't performed of late, but the depth of quality of some of our players is greater than the other teams, and given a fresh start in the Prem next season i'm sure that we could repeat, maybe even emulate our performance of the season before where we passed 50 points.

    With Carson Yeung's cash, we've got potential. Blackburn, simply for having a rubbish manager, need to go down.

  • Comment number 10.

    Phil, this was an interesting blog but it was mainly just quotes from Jimmy Armfield. What do you think will happen and what will the future hold for Blackpool if they do go down?

  • Comment number 11.

    Id like to see wolves and blackpool stay up as the latter plays good football and the former are generally a decent mid-table team. Id also like to birmingham and wigan to stay up as the brum are in europe and wigan play attractive football. I would absolutely love it if blackburn go down 'cos of that ridiculous decision to sack Big Sam but cant see it though as I reckon both wigan and birmingham to lose to stoke and spurs away respectively

  • Comment number 12.

    Id like to add that, whatever the outcome well done blackpool as many people thought that they were near guarenteed for relegation and so even if they are relegated it would prove to be only just e.g. max 3pts i believe

  • Comment number 13.

    Blackpool do not tend to keep many clean sheets, especially away from home, and I would imagine Holloway’s men have little option but to go for the win at Old Trafford. However, in doing so Blackpool will almost inevitably leave gaps in their formation that will ultimately allow Manchester United to take advantage, and with it, probably all three points. If Blackpool do remain in the Premier League, it will be thanks to Harry Redknapp and Tony Pulis.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't buy into all this 'breath of fresh air' nonsense that seems to have surrounded Blackpool this season.

    Also, I think Holloway's comments this week just show him to be something that I have suspected for some time, a bit of a pratt.

    Sure, he is honest and all that but really, stop trying to look clever. You've turned into a parody of yourself now keep your 'clever' comments to yourself and get on with the job in hand.

    Plucky underdogs? Yeah, right, if they're not good enough, they're not good enough.

  • Comment number 15.

    Lets all jump on the Blackpool band waggon! Seriously yes at times they play free flowing football, but they do not deserve to grace the premiership! They havent got the quality of say Blackburn or West Ham but they certainly have a better manager!

    I remember people raving about Wigan when they first came up, do anyone care about them now? No.

    Come on United youth team, lets see how good Blackpool really are on Sunday!

  • Comment number 16.

    Wolves to stay

  • Comment number 17.

    @ 8 & 9...

    Couldn't agree more, come on Blackpool and see ya later Blackburn. Ridiculous decision to sack Alladyce, and if they go down it's no more than the owners deserve.

    @ 15...
    "the quality of say Blackburn or West Ham"???
    Blackburn who are possibly the most boring team to watch in the entire league, and West Ham who are already relegated? What quality is it that I'm missing? Blackburn would have more quality if Venkys fielded some of their chickens rather than the dross in the existing squad.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 17 The Issue is with Blackburn they have 4 or 5 players who could get into the sides from about 6th to 10th unlike Wolves and Birmingham etc. Samba, Phil Jones, Hoilett, Olsson and perhaps Robinson are very good calibure of players. Its just that they have the worst manager in the league who is inexperienced and an awful group of owners who know nothing about football. Dispute all you like but if Big Sam was in charge of that squad they would be in the top 12 no problem.

  • Comment number 19.

    And also Blackburn have to play those boring tactics because they have one problem, they dont have any credible strikers.

  • Comment number 20.

    Funny how some people knock Stoke for "the long ball" game, but when Blackpool try to attack all the time, they want them relegated. Holloway is probably the best manager to listen to in an interview. Come on Blackpool!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    #20 Govie10

    Holloway is probably the best manager to listen to in an interview.
    Is he? He goes on like some num-nuntz down the pub who's had a few pints and likes the sound of their own voice. Some humourous moments but largely just inane or banal nonsense.

  • Comment number 22.

    If there is an justice in the world of football, Blackpool will stay up and Blackburn will go down - simply for entertainment value and the decisions of each board to appoint Holloway on the one hand and sack Allardyce on the other. Wolves I hope stay up but I like Martinez as a manager - he is a gentleman and given the players he has he tries to play football - not like that man at Stoke embarrassingly outclassed twice in one week!

  • Comment number 23.

    i would love blackpool to stay up. they have been great to watch this year. but sadly i dont see them getting anything at old trafford. i hope im wrong.

  • Comment number 24.


  • Comment number 25.

    Hopefully Blackpool will stay up, but if not the signings of Basham, Reid, Kornilenko and Beattie are the mian reasons....along with not signing a decent keeper when Gilks was injured.

    If they do go down, they won't do a Northampton and plummet through the leagues but I can't see them coming back up unfortunately.

    Blackburn will hopefully go down. Have they got the worst strikeforce in the Prem ever? Diouf, Rochina, Roberts, Kalinic

  • Comment number 26.

    Hopefully the Blackburn board will be choking on their Chicken dinner come Sunday tea time! Doubt they will even be at the Wolves game! Birmingham have left it far too late! Wigan play some good football going forward, Blackpool, Wolves like-wise. Although defence's will no doubt play a huge part this weekend!

  • Comment number 27.

    @25 - worst strike force and worse owners - well maybe a draw on that one with those three at West Ham!

  • Comment number 28.

    Would like to add my name to the list supporting #5, #7, #8 and #11.

    Come on you Wolves/Pool!

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm hoping blackpool get a win on Sunday. They have been so entertaining, be it all out attacking or calamitous defending.....(add to that press conferences and pre/post match interviews)! They all but guarantee goals at one end or the other and have done well to get to the final day with a chance of survival. In my opinion they are punching above their weight, and will have to do just that this weekend! This season each team has had to register a squad of 25 players so i dont know why people even bring up the complaint about weaker sides being put out, surely its managers choice to use any one of those 25 players?

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm a United fan - I'd be happy to play awfully and lose if it meant Blackpool stayed up.

  • Comment number 31.

    #18 ntccfc

    Scott Dann, Roger Johnson, Ben Foster, Seb Larsson, David Bentley, Alexander Hleb, (a younger) Lee Bowyer, (at a push) Craig Gardner. I argue that at the right teams and on their day, these could all play for top ten teams.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hopefully Blackpool, Wolves and Birmingham all stay up. As clubs they just seem to deserve it more.

    No disrespect to Blackburn fans but your owners are a joke. And no disrespect to the actual Wigan fans that are out there...but when you have a town blessed with a Premier League football club and Wigan Warriors, you could at least fill your stadium. Don't think i've ever seen the DW more than about three quarters full...

  • Comment number 33.

    Definitely want Blackpool to stay up as I do like the attack policy. Hopefully if they stay in the Premier League for next year then they can improve their defence and maybe climb towards midtable.
    However I also want us to go the whole season having dropped only 2 points at home so I'm afraid that means I'm hoping Birmingham lose by 3 or more, Wigan lose and Manchester United win 1-0 which would keep Blackpool in the Premier League and the us 2points dropped
    Sorry to Birmingham and Wigan fans - it's nothing personal it's just that is the only combintation that givs those two things.
    If things don't go ideal I'd be willing to trade the home stats for Blackpool staying up, in which case don't really mind who stays and who goes.
    If things go really wrong and Blackpool don't stay up then all the best for next season and hope to see you back in 2 years

  • Comment number 34.


    I think you're better off working on a solution as to how to lose less than 4v0 to Barcelona in the CL final.

  • Comment number 35.

    i do not have anything against blackpool but i want united to win because we have a proud home record and we have dropped only 2 points at home all season. that is something id like to preserve for another season,maybe more. a draw is fine too i guess

  • Comment number 36.

    Blackpool got no chance of beating United and will get relegated

  • Comment number 37.

    Does anybody really 'deserve' to stay up? Points are a fairly accurate representation of whether someone should win the league or be relegated, after all that's what they are for.
    I do like Blackpool, but I don't see them beating United, or really even drawing. But it will be closer than some anticipate I'm sure.

  • Comment number 38.

    I would so much would love it if my team the mighty entertainers Blackpool would stay up, but if we dont we have one superb season no matter what people say to get to 39 points is so, so harsh to go down with considering for years on end i dont think nobody has gone down with that.

    Also if we do go down then sorry for being bitter but one if we go down is because we conceded far to many late goals from having decent leads against so many teams, and others like referees and linesman have costed us as well with mostly not giving us clear cut penalties and offside decisions that the other teams have gone and scored from.

  • Comment number 39.

    West Ham were in a similar position to Blackpool about 5 years ago needing a win at Old Trafford on the last day of the season.

    United played a weakened team with an eye on the FA Cup final and West Ham won.

    They did have Tevez though.

  • Comment number 40.

    I liked watching Blackpool playing this care-free, attacking football this season.
    The term "a breath of fresh air" has become synonymous to them.

    Still, I can't see them getting a result at Old Trafford, for simple reasons:

    a) defensively, they're appalling;
    b) United wouldn't like to see people and teams pointing the finger at them, saying "in a season when your team made your home a fortress, you didn't care about the integrity of the Premiership, as soon as you won the title";
    c) we saw the B' side of Manchester United beat Schalke 04, in comfort.

    I see 3 important errors in Blackpool this season that played a telling role in their fortunes:

    a) a defense that never improved throughout the campaign;
    b) the manager's belief that 39 points would assure staying in Premiership;
    c) the home result against Wigan.

    When it's the run in and you play another relegation candidate at home, you are the winner at the end of the match, if you want to stay in the competition. Wolves proved the rule when they played West Brom - besides having forgotten when they beat them last time, they won the match relatively easily. Wigan proved it also against West Ham and away against Blackpool. Blackpool failed.

    I have tried to see why Ian Holloway was insisting that 39 points would guarantee staying in the Premiership. Perhaps he didn't want to place a target that looked too high at the time. Yet, besides how odd Owen Coyle's statement that 42 points might not be enough this season looked at the time of saying, it has proven to be the glaring possibility on the last day of the season.

    It's all so tight, even in that goals difference. I think, though, that Blackpool are going down, despite wanting them to stay. When the dust settles, they will not be thinking of the match they played at Old Trafford but the home match they failed to win against Wigan. They'd be safe now.

  • Comment number 41.

    "If they survive it would be astonishing. This is a club with a £10m budget and they have not gone into the red - the chairman Karl Oyston won't allow that. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United are in the red but not Blackpool."

    What puzzles me at the start of every season is how promoted clubs to the Premiership spend the money they receive for playing in the Premiership. Blackpool, with an, as stated, budget of £10m, haven't even introduced under-soil heating in Bloomfield Road, kept the budget tight and didn't spend to strengthen the team.

    Is it £32m the amount they earned as a club this season?
    How has this cash been invested Mr Blackpool chairman?

  • Comment number 42.

    I've enjoyed watching Blackpool this season but I'm sick to death of the 'Breath of fresh air' nonsense. It seems that one has merely to say 'Blackpool' and the awful cliche automatically follows and I'm bored with it so won't feel too bad if they go and take it with them.

  • Comment number 43.

    33. ManchesterUnited4Ever wrote:

    However I also want us to go the whole season having dropped only 2 points at home so I'm afraid that means I'm hoping Birmingham lose by 3 or more, Wigan lose and Manchester United win 1-0 which would keep Blackpool in the Premier League and the us 2points dropped


    Blackpool would still stay up with your scenario if Utd won 2-0 because if GD is the same it is then settled on the number of goals scored. B'pool have scored 53 and Birm 36. I believe that this is how it will go and therefore Blackpool's, "breath of fresh air", approach will have ultimately kept them up.

  • Comment number 44.

    At the end of the day Blackpool will stay up.

    I can't see Spurs giving Birmingham an easy ride at WHL.
    Stoke will beat Wigan. So, Blackpool (as others have said) can lose and stay up.
    Though I think they will draw at Old Trafford.

    Blackpool did go down the pan after the United game but they also lost goalkeepers 1 and 2 to injury. So, for quite a few games they were playing with the number 3 keeper.

    Holloway should have played for a draw in a few games in Jan/Feb to ease the pressure later on. They lost too many games attacking in the the last ten minutes instead of shutting up shop.

    I remember Man Utd losing 5-0 at Bloomfield Road in the 70s.
    Blackpool will be hoping for a similar result :) at OT.

    One criticism of Holloway. Why the hell did he buy Beattie? He was a great player in his younger and slimmer days but he has not done much for Blackpool.

  • Comment number 45.

    14. At 12:06 20th May 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:


    I tend to agree with you.

    First the first few months Holloway was amusing and entertaining. But as he gained more media attention I think he got too big for his boots and it became Holloway FC and not Blackpool FC.

    He sure has been a distraction for the club, especially his comments subsequently after being fined for fielding a weakened team. Because Holloway initially had praise heaped upon him he thought he was big enough to threaten quitting without realising that he is yet to achieve anything in the top flight.

    And Blackpool's freefall in the second half of the season is worrying, a bit like Hull's 2 seasons ago although at least they managed to stay up. Why could Holloway not slow down or reverse the slide and motivate his players to turn performances around?

    Sometimes I think he's too focused on the media circus around him and too preoccupied with getting people to listen to his rants.

    Being another North West team I want Wigan to stay up, ditto Blackburn.

  • Comment number 46.

    To TwoLostSouls at 32.

    DW is regularly full when The Warriors play.

    Wigan is a rugby town. The natural fanbase for football is c.5000, so get crowds of anything above 12000 is pretty good!

  • Comment number 47.

    I don't understand Holloway's recent rants against the FA. The FA weren't 'beamed down from Zarf' but a more nearby world, planet football. Who is daring to besmirch SAF's great name? Nobody as far as I can see. There are rules and clubs' futures are at stake. Personally I like Holloway and agree with J. Armfield that Blackpool and Holloway are a lot of supporters' second team. Holloway doth protest too much me thinks.

    A United win with Blackpool staying up would do my saturday nô harm at all.

  • Comment number 48.

    The problem Blackpool will face here is that Manchester United's second and probably third string side will turn them over 9 out of 10 times.

    The Seasiders are going to be very lucky to avoid the drop today but with Mr Adam in the side, you just can't rule them out!

    Good luck Ollie!

  • Comment number 49.

    There is a reason for being there for every single relegation candidate. We all seem to feel sorry for this or the other club when it comes to relegation battles. If you examine their situations, though, you wonder whether they are creators of their own fortunes.

    Wolves pride themselves for being profitable. Yet, it remains to be seen if they'd be better off if some of that profit had been turned into better attacking, creative or defending options.

    Blackpool don't stop saying that they operate on a £10m budget but they received from the Premier League £32m approximately and they didn't invest in improving their appalling defending not even in the January transfer window, never mind placing under-soil heating.

    Birmingham had the problem in attack last season too. How many wins 1-0 had they achieved? Did they sort the attacking inefficiency? If they stay up, they'll probably keep using Philips at the age of 39 or 40.

    Blackburn had a secure presence in the Premiership and took their eyes off with their own hands. We heard a lot about Ronaldinho and Maradona but the denominator was zero.

    Wigan have had some big time inconsistency throughout the season and I am not aware how much of the money they received from Palacios and Valencia sales have been invested on players. They still use the 'loan' market.

    Still, though, the money is there, year in, year out.
    Is it £32m the last team on the table receives?
    Where is all this money going?
    Putting all things together, I am not quite sure if any of these clubs deserves unreserved sympathy if relegated.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think Blackpool will have the biggest support of ANY team tomorrow. 99% of neutrals up and down the country will want them to win and stay up.

    Blackpool have gained a lot of honorary fans this season, me included. Come on Blackpool!

  • Comment number 51.

    Come on you reds!

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    I would like to see Blackpool stay up (*CENSORED*) especially with a win because seeing Man Utd (*CENSORED*) lose is always fun.

    As a Villain I am hoping for a very convincing Spurs win tomorrow

  • Comment number 54.

    HOWARU 22 IanB2 man city 10,000,000,000,001 Stoke 3pound 50 get it. Stoke will beat wigan im sorry to see Blackpool go down like lot of fans

  • Comment number 55.

    Whatever the score, Blackpool will still have the better beach.

  • Comment number 56.

    #49 Football UK

    Kevin Phillips has made under 3 starts for us this season, it's not as if we're persisting in playing him. But you're right about our attack, it's our achilles heel. Cameron Jerome couldn't score in his own back garden, and we persist in playing him. Also, Zigic, one of our only regular scorers, has been injured since the cup final. Dann has been injured too, which has left our defence more exposed. With a more fit team we would definitely not be in the position we find ourselves in at the moment.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 56, Kit,

    At least, McLeish tried to get a solution in Zigic which didn't work, unfortunately for Birmingham. To be honest, I was expecting more from Bentley in attacking solutions for Birmingham. I mentioned Philips because (if I remember correctly reading about it) he may start at Spurs.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think Blackpool can do it. If they go out there and attack they'll stay up. Also, it's in thier hands since wolves and Blackburn play each other.

  • Comment number 59.

    Football UK.

    You're more than right to cite our offensive frailties, and I can empathise with you that I expected quite a bit more from the likes of Bentley and Hleb (considering he's on loan from Barca). But I disagree about Zigic, I think he's been a success comparatively, goals, assists. I feel we've seriously missed him recently.

  • Comment number 60.

    @ 59, Kit,

    to be honest, I haven't followed Zigic at Birmingham a lot, but I expected more of him. Then again, I expected more from Bentley and Hleb too. Perhaps, if those two were more efficient, they'd provide the ammunition for Zigic.

    At least, McLeish tried to use the transfer market, on a plan. I think Birmingham have been very unlucky with injuries.

  • Comment number 61.

    Come on United, send the Lashers down.

  • Comment number 62.

    21.At 12:56 20th May 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #20 Govie10

    Holloway is probably the best manager to listen to in an interview.
    Is he? He goes on like some num-nuntz down the pub who's had a few pints and likes the sound of their own voice. Some humourous moments but largely just inane or banal nonsense.

    I would much rather listen to holloway in an interview than Ancelotti, wenger or even ferguson! He is honest. if his team is rubbish, he will tell everyone they were rubbish! If they get a bad decision against them, he will say it.

    yes he;s Mental, but so are the rest of the EPL Managers. Holloway has just embraced it more! The guy is a legend.

    How well has he handled the Charlie Adams situation??!! Better than Wenger would have, better than Steve Kean, better than most manager's.

    I really hope they stay up. Don't think they will get a result at old trafford but think they will still stay up.

  • Comment number 63.

    @ 40 FOOTBALL_UK

    It's all so tight, even in that goals difference. I think, though, that Blackpool are going down, despite wanting them to stay. When the dust settles, they will not be thinking of the match they played at Old Trafford but the home match they failed to win against Wigan. They'd be safe now.

    I also think that Blackpool will be thinking about the 2 decisions that went against them at Man Utd and Arsenal.

    Ok, at Man Utd, they may not have scored the penalty, but they would have at least had the opportunity. Was an astonishing decision not to award it but, hey, Swings and roundabouts.

    Still, i'm sure they have had some lucky decisions go for them as well.

  • Comment number 64.

    @63m Liverpaul85,

    You are not in the drop zone on the last day of the premiership because of two decisions. You are in the drop zone though when you take pride of being profitable and looking elsewhere when people talk about a disappointing defense, all season long and, when the transfer window comes, you see the chairman of the club speak Swahili and he can't understand the club needs reinforcements.

    Lots of times I tried to predict who falls and who stays, tomorrow. The more I think of it, the more complicated it looks. All I know is tomorrow winners on the day will be glorified and defeated will feel twice the defeat.

  • Comment number 65.

    @ 64 Football_UK

    I know that 2 decisions don't define a whole season. i was looking for a reaction, thankfully you gave me one.

    I am actually impressed that they didn't spend in the transfer window, no offence to them but who, of any real quality, was going to sign for them?? Plus, with the money they recieved last year and the parachute payments they would continue to recieve, if they do go down they would be in an excellent financial position. But just think if they stay up? Because of the money they spent (practically nothing) and by using mainly the same players from the championship it would be a massive achievement don't you think??

  • Comment number 66.

    @65, Liverpaul85,

    Common sense says Blackpool are going down tomorrow.

    I think it is for chairmen like Blackpool's that Premiership changed parachute payments amounts - if I'm correct, reducing it to £3m and distributing the difference to clubs staying in the Premier League: a low budget, not changed after winning promotion. Big parachute payments tend to make chairmen gold-seekers while it works against strengthening in such cases.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ 66 Football_UK

    Common sense does say that Blackpool are going down, but at what point has this season made any sense?? Wolves were bottom when they broke Man Utd's unbeaten streak, Arsenal lost to Birmingham in the Carling cup and now face relegation, chelsea decided they didn't want to win a game for 2 months, Liverpool....well....until Kenny came back, unbelievable! and not in a good way.

    I don't even really understand the parachute payments. i'm not sure why the relegated teams even get them. Can someone explain this to me??

  • Comment number 68.

    @ Liverppaul85,

    In all honesty, I'm expecting United to score 2-3 goals tomorrow.
    There are two unfortunate details for Blackpool:

    a) SAF knows they have to play an open game - their defense is shambolic;
    b) United have the experience of 2009 when they went to face Barcelona rusty - they don't want to repeat it.

    Of course it's the case of West Ham but they had Tevez, Green on form, a better defense and won with the odd goal besides being battered for 90'.

    It's all talk, a day before the match and I'm not the United manager. So I have to ensure I don't cross the line an idiot would. Let's wait and see.

    I am not a specialist on finances in the Premier League but, to my understanding, these parachute payments must be directly related to normalising the budget to Championship levels. I believe assumptions had been made that promoted Championship sides up their budget to accommodate Premier League wages. However, since it's been proven that many clubs tend to keep the cash for 'the future' and don't change their objectives and structure, parachute payments (I think without being certain) have gone down to a symbolic amount of £3m and the difference is distributed to the clubs that play in the Premier League.

  • Comment number 69.

    I wouldn't expect Man Utd to score 2-3 goals tomorrow. I think that if they win it will be a very comfortable 1-0. I don't see Man Utd going gung ho and playing at a high intensity. They don't have to. At the end of the day, Fergie doesn't want any injuries going into next sat so i would be very surprised if Man Utd really went out and smashed Blackpool. But i could be mistaken, it's just my opinion.

    In terms of the parachute payments, if that is the case then its stupid! your basically saying, here's a bonus for being one of the 3 worst teams in the league. now, even tohugh we have given you about £60m already, have some more because you obviously must have upped your wage levels and paid those transfer fee's and now that you have been relegated it doesn't matter that you couldn't live within your means.

    Would be nice if the banks made parachute payments to all the small businesses that they have screwed over, hey??!

  • Comment number 70.

    I hope Blackpool go down - precisely because they have been great and that's how I want to remember them. Let's face it, if they stay up they'll lose their panache and novelty and will go down sooner or later in shame and ignominy.

    So, great as they've been, better for them to take the drop now. I'd love to see Blackburn go down too, but for more malicious reasons, and unfortunately I can't realistically see that happening. Probably it will be Wigan though Brum are more deserving of the drop, IMHO.

  • Comment number 71.

    You can point to many moments in a season, but as recently as 2 games ago, at Spurs, if someone had come out to confront Jermaine Defoe rather than let him stroll to the edge of the box almost into injury time to equalise, Blackpool might have 2 more points going into today's game. Even after that, they still found enough time to go back up the field and were nearly in again to restore the lead, more than once! They wouldn't be in the Premier League and in with of a shout of survival if it weren't for this brand of football, so should have no regrets. Every team can point to poor refereeing, even though surely there are ways to reduce it. We keep going on about the lack of transparency at FIFA, but the unaccountability of referees here for season changing decisions is no better.

    Ironically, a team who I think resemble Blackpool with their positive philosophy, might have denied us of a double helping of this 'breath of fresh air' football next season. Spurs outplayed Liverpool last week, and, to be honest, outplayed City in the game before. They might have fallen short this season, but I suggest they almost certainly would have done playing the 'conventional' way. I'm sure they don't need any telling, but today more than any other, Blackpool need to embrace the unrestrained football that has seen them come this far. Stranger things have happened, like Aberdeen beating Real Madrid in a European final! I'm sure Aberdeen believed! Do Blackpool believe?

    While Ollie's interview's are usually among the more entertaining, I agree with some of the posters in that they've become increasingly a performance, and find myself cringing sometimes. See, that's what the PL does to you, Ollie! Don't abandon what's got you this far!

  • Comment number 72.

    i wish blackpool all the best of luck against man utd. i hold my hands up and admit before the season i expected them to struggle to get to 20 points and to finish rock bottom, i can only apologise. not only have they got 39 points but have really tried to play good football. the ironic thing for them is in previous seasons they would of survived with 36 points but now could still go down with 42!
    im not going to say they havent got a chance against man utd though. i cant see many man utd players going in for the tackles and risking injury ahead of next weeks game. that will be the thing that gives blackpool a chance in a match that i know they would easily lose normally.

  • Comment number 73.

    I would love to see Blackpool stay up, as a Man United fan I think I would still crack a smile if we lost and it led to the Seasiders staying up. Ideally would like to see Blackburn go down and probably Birmingham as well because after the Carling Cup they have been woeful. I think Wolves have been great recently and deserve to stay up.

    Obviously I wouldn't wish relegation on any fans, but Blackburn's owners deserve a relegation for the way Sam Allardyce was treated. Blackburn would be well clear of relegation and at least mid-table if he had stayed.

  • Comment number 74.

    ..and the day when all the answers will be given to who will go down and how it will happen.

  • Comment number 75.

    I just don't get 'predictions', anyone can make a scoreline based on teams current form. However, what about DD's (dodgy decisions), injuries-on-pitch, sending-offs, these all have immediate and largely decisive effect on the outcome of games. With so many possible impacting factors, it's really just pot-luck, unless it's Real Madrid vs Almeria =D

  • Comment number 76.

    Adams needs master-class number two in 10 days against United to give Blackpool any chance, the PL needs Blackpool.

    That said sadly, I believe Wigan will secure what they need at Stoke, Nzogba seems irrepressible at the moment and they're used to this sort of fight, that will help send Blackpool down and the majority say likewise. I just don't want Blackburn staying up, just for their owners- they deserve it after the awful sacking. Come-on Wolves and come-on Blackpool/Wigan. Birmingham-- well I don't really care xD But they need to find their mid-season form to hold Tottenham, looks very unlikely!

  • Comment number 77.

    @ Avonns,

    that's a good question.
    I am expecting a day like all important days, like finals or critical matches, today, when it comes to referees. No dodgy penalties, no undeserved red cards.

    I don't think any referee would like to be blamed for years for the failures of any club.

  • Comment number 78.


    The parachute payments for West Ham are: "£48m over the next four seasons",
    The Independent.

    Don't know where you get your £3 from.


  • Comment number 79.

    That should have read £3m :)

  • Comment number 80.

    Then again, I could be all wrong, ManU to go down xD

  • Comment number 81.

    Yes it's more a D-day for the Refs today, robbing someone of the title is not close to sending down via a 85th min penalty!

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 78, Ron Taylor,

    Obviously, I read it somewhere, in one of all these articles relating to money distribution in the Premier League. I remember getting confused when different amounts emerged on different dates, while it was stated that changes would occur.

    If every relegated club receives £12m for 4 seasons, this is massively wrong as in a 4 seasons period, half the championship sides could be receiving £12m in one particular year. That is grossly unfair for clubs relegated to League 1, for example, as they don't receive any money for failure, themselves. It's also unfair on promoted to Championship clubs.

    What is fascinating is when a club has a £10m budget anyway, why get a £12m parachute payment? It indicates wrong distribution of Premier League revenue, assisting mediocre to stay mediocre and prohibiting Premier League ambitious clubs to move forward in the European arena.

    Still, giving us the "Independent" without link and without dates in particular doesn't say much. Does it?

  • Comment number 83.

    @ Ron Taylor,

    After some research, I did find some article, relating to £3m but this time it refers to Championship sides receiving £3m each from Premier League. Perhaps I was wrong.

    In , the related paragraph states:

    "The gap is greater than ever, given the Premier League's £3.3bn TV deal from 2010-13, which delivers on average £40m TV money to each Premier League club, while those in the Championship receive £3m. Parachute payments, introduced as a self-preservation measure by the breakaway clubs to ease the landing into the Football League, are now £48m in total, paid over four seasons."

    While all we feel sympathy for the A' or B' club threatened by relegation today, there is another paragraph, in the same article, that certainly gives light in why Wolves and Blackpool are finding themselves in this mess today:

    "Wolves, one season up and with a £9m profit, £25m cash in the bank and no debt, are budgeting to flourish whether they stay up or go down, in which case the players are contracted to take pay cuts, not be paid in Premier League quantities regardless of the club's fate. Blackpool, too, who have conspicuously not allowed Ian Holloway access to the £40m fruits of promotion, will be cushioned by multi-millions if they are not still in the Premier League after their match at the champions Manchester United."

  • Comment number 84.

    Good luck to the Tangerines... Ian Holloway is a refreshment to the premier league.

  • Comment number 85.

    If I couldn't avoid saying my opinion on who else joins West Ham to the Championship today, I'd say Blackpool and Birmingham are the prime candidates and the teams that will go down by 17:50'.

  • Comment number 86.

    @ 85 Football_UK

    I was going to complain about this comment just because it turns out to be right!! lol. but i won't.

    Really disappointed that blackpool went down. But how well did they do today??!! Really unlucky with the own goal that completely deflated them. More disappointed that Blackburn stayed up. Really hope that it goes to pot for them next year!!

    Also....Ancelotti has been sacked, i really hope that every other manager now says stuff chelsea! Why would anyone want to go there and have to deal with a club that would sack a manager only a year after winning the double! Poor management at chelsea.

    I really think that given the funds, ancelotti could have taken them places.


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