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Holloway's mission impossible?

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Phil McNulty | 11:29 UK time, Sunday, 29 August 2010

Bloomfield Road

Bloomfield Road's first top-tier game in 39 years - graced by England coach Fabio Capello on what may just have been the Italian's first visit to this seaside resort - was never designed as a day for understatement.

And so it proved as a vibrant, tangerine-splashed occasion started with the match programme describing Blackpool's ascent to the Premier League as "the biggest fairytale in modern British football history".

It concluded with Seasiders' manager Ian Holloway, having watched his charges earn a point against Fulham that was the very least they deserved, claiming he has "an almost impossible job" attempting to keep the club in the Premier League, suggesting he needs to sign "at least eight" players before Tuesday's transfer deadline.

The truth, as is usual in most of these cases, resides somewhere in between. As the top flight made a belated return to a Bloomfield Road ground unrecognisable from the one it left behind when Manchester United drew 1-1 here in May 1971, this was a day for a team and a town's pride to be put on public display.

Holloway's feat in guiding Blackpool out of the Championship after they started the 2009/10 season as relegation favourites elevated him forever above his previous public image of a manager with a ready soundbite and a quirky line in humour.

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And while his after-match analysis mixed comedy, desperation, elation and frustration - crammed into about 90 seconds in one segment - Holloway's team spoke eloquently on his behalf.

Bobby Zamora's headed first-half goal threatened to spoil the celebrations on this landmark day until Blackpool's endeavour and attractive approach was rewarded with John Pantsil's own goal 19 minutes from time.

Bloomfield Road was spruced up and bedecked in an explosion of tangerine shirts and balloons. And the new East Stand vindicated all the Health and Safety inspections as it literally shook and then stood firm amid the volcanic reaction to Luke Varney's goal that had Blackpool dreaming of victory until Dickson Etuhu's late equaliser.

It made it a respectable start of four points from three games for Blackpool, leaving Holloway to insist - but presumable not actually mean - that: "These might be the only four points we get but I don't care."

On this evidence, even a flawed tipster such as myself will happily predict they may add to their tally before season's end. Reality dictates that Blackpool's lack of experience and pedigree at this level will result in some dark days - of the sort they suffered in the 6-0 loss at Arsenal - but it is already clear how Holloway will approach the task.

The Tangerines treasured possession throughout and it was fitting that Varney, their outstanding player barely a day after walking through the door on loan from Derby, was the central figure in both goals.

Sadly, Blackpool's passing principles deserted them briefly to allow Fulham to fashion that late equaliser. But when Holloway reflects on the performance, he will realise his job, while hugely challenging, may not be impossible. Why should they simply regard promotion as the start of the road to relegation, even though many of us have predicted that fate for them?

They already have a hard luck story to tell. Referee Mike Oliver was generous to deem Varney's challenge on Cottagers keeper David Stockdale as a foul, therefore denying Elliott Grandin a goal.

Blackpool are operating within well-chronicled financial restrictions that have handicapped Holloway's recruitment process and may well inflict fatal damage to their prospects of survival, but nothing has dimmed the enthusiasm of their supporters and the resolve of their manager.

Holloway admits reinforcements must arrive before Tuesday or there may be trouble ahead, saying: "The chairman keeps saying 'hold your nerve, hold your nerve.' Well, I'm holding it but is there any chance of the cavalry coming over the hill?"

In the absence of these reinforcements, Charlie Adam will be the creative force, as he was in the Championship, while goalkeeper Matt Gilks will get plenty of opportunities to burnish his growing reputation.

Holloway was correct to suggest his Seasiders occasionally betray the uncertainties and lack of confidence of a team finding their feet at a rarified level. Some uncertainties can be banished and confidence injected after performances of this standard.

The questions will become more searching as Blackpool drive further into this Premier League campaign. Can they maintain the composure they showed for long periods here? Can Varney continue to produce at this elevated level? Will flaws be further exposed as the pressure mounts?

All questions to be answered another day but, as Blackpool's fans revelled in the return of elite football to Bloomfield Road, it is clear - as with nearby Burnley last season - they are intent on enjoying every second of the Premier League experience.

zamora595.jpgZamora heads Fulham in front. Photo: Getty Images

Holloway will try to ensure lessons are learned after their lead was squandered carelessly late on but there was much to admire in Blackpool's approach that must not be overshadowed by the late concession of a point.

And if they can target wins against teams that will make up the mini-league around them near the bottom the table, then last season's defiance of the odds in winning promotion may yet be repeated.

For Fulham and new manager Mark Hughes, there was some good fortune in claiming a draw but there will also be satisfaction in taking a second point on their travels this season and moving some way towards curing the failings away from home that have dogged them in recent campaigns.

Zamora was a constant threat until departing injured and Moussa Dembele created both goals in impressive fashion, while the resilience and organisation put in place by former boss Roy Hodgson will stand Hughes in good stead as he makes his own adjustments.

Hughes's record suggests he is a sound choice as Hodgson's successor and the early signs are that Fulham have recovered from the departure of the manager who took them to the Europa League final.

Blackpool's big day could - and should - have been celebrated with victory - but the fact that they came so close should be a source of hope for Holloway as he takes the next step of his so-called 'Mission Impossible' at Newcastle United in a fortnight.

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  • Comment number 1.

    it's fantastic to see a team actually enjoying being in the premier ship. and a club that is using the money wisely, instead of over paying on people.

  • Comment number 2.

    Still convinced by Blackpool's performance despite the pundits showering praises in the media. I still think they are relegation candidates along with the "W" teams of West Ham, Wigan, West Brom and Wolves (also not convinced despite being 4th on the table.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think they'll stay up - just. Wigan, West Ham and West Brom look more likely to go down, although still early days. Really need to wait until New Year to make proper predictions.

    Either way, for many of us Blackpool have made the EPL a lot more interesting than any transfer news. After all the economic shadows in the EPL last season, Holloway and Co have cast some much needed positivity upon the league.

    In a way I almost hope they do get relegated - not out of meanness, but so their fans don't start changing from a real fun force into the usual moaning types you get at clubs. You only need to look at Hull for that.

    This season, and - should they go down - the parachute payments, could be a chance for Blackpool to really build themselves as a club, if the lucre goes into the club rather than a load of mercenary prima donnas.

    I wish them the best of luck with every game this season, I can't see too many fans begrudging them taking points off their own team!

  • Comment number 4.

    To not be relegated, you simply need three teams which are worse than yourselves. If Blackpool are going to survive, then, which three teams would you suggest are going to go down?

  • Comment number 5.

    nice blog but i do think you slightly miss the point when describing our 6-0 defeat at the emirates as a dark day. you ask any of the 3000 pool fans inside the emirates singing and making more noise than 60000 gooners if they were having a dark day!!! we shall enjoy days like that for what they are! shame we couldn't just see out the game yesterday. i think our performance was worth 3 pts but at this level you just can't switch off for 1 second. think we'll surprise a few people this season!

  • Comment number 6.

    Good article. If Blackpool are to have any chance of staying up they'll need to close out probably all games such as yesterdays - that was a big chance to make the 3 games an excellent start even with a 6-0 in there. I think they'll go down by a considerable margin on around 20 points, but will do so without bankrupting the club and will be in a good position to build for the future.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    I have been a Blackpool fan for almost 50 years and I have had some of the best times in my life following the men in tangerine. One comment suggested that if Blackpool do go down - IF - their fans may become a bunch of moaners - Blackpool fans DO NOT moan. We have had many lows over the years as well as many highs. Maybe it is the colour of the shirts - maybe is that we never stop singing - but it is NEVER boring. I am SO SO proud to feel a part of this club. That is perhaps the secret - because we are a small club each fan feels that they belong and are important. I wonder if Chelsea or Man U fans feel the same ??!!
    Ian Holloway is an inspiration.

  • Comment number 9.

    Doesn't look too promising when your manager says he desperately needs eight more players and the calvary to arrive by Tuesday in order to stay up does it? What does that say to the players you've got at the moment...hardly very motivating is it - even if realistic? As others suggest Blackpools' only hope is that there are three teams worse than them over the season..which is possible. I hope they survive but early season hope and faith even from the most loyal supporters - as per Burnley last year disappears with the sun as autumn and winter sets in. Home form is really crucial and hope to pick up the 'very odd?' decent away results as per at Wigan along the way.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think they might do a Hull, pretty good Run till about xmas then get tired and found out. Might be enough to save them from the drop. I hope it is.

  • Comment number 11.

    However what you say about Hughes being a sound Choice, I don't agree. With all the talent he had at City, he couldn't make them win, they drew a dozen games on the trot. He is like a lot of ex forwards who become Managers, their teams look great going forward but leak goals all over the place, see Keegan, Robson (bryan) , Maradonna for example.

  • Comment number 12.

    Too many people are getting carried away about Blackpool. We have only played three games. You only have to remember Burnley last year who started well, particularly at home, and even beat Manchester united. Once the injuries and suspensions started to kick in, and the other premiership teams got used to how they played, they hardly picked up a point, will probably be true of Blackpool, as they don't have the strength in depth of the other clubs.

  • Comment number 13.

    #8 Anne wrote: because we are a small club each fan feels that they belong and are important. I wonder if Chelsea or Man U fans feel the same ??!!
    Ian Holloway is an inspiration.

    You make a decent point as Blackpool probably know all their fans personally ;) - Up until recently your capacity was as low as 9,000 dropping from the near 40,000 back in 50's. Wonder where they all went..surely didn't become disenchanted and started to moan just like all other supporters do? ;) The likes of Chelsea and Man U do have millions of supporters today - a lot worldwide and a fair percentage of them are fair weather supporters. United always seemed to have pretty decent attendane record though so you cannot really question their loyalty, Chelsea's dipped in the lean times and was below 20,000 in 1992. You are what is called a core supporter and I hope Blackpool reward you with cheaper ticket prices now they are back in the big time just like you stuck with them through the bad?

    As for Ian Holloway - I love his comments etc - great character, but is he inspiring your players by saying how he needs at least eight more guys to come in to replace them?

  • Comment number 14.

    Describing Blackpool's ascent to the Premier League as "the biggest fairytale in modern British football history"

    Not sounding biased or anything but Hull City's has to be the biggest fairytale. Never been there for 104 years, and then your hometown lad Dean Windass gets you there at 39 years old, with 1 of the best goals at the new Wembley. I say no more

  • Comment number 15.

    Lifelong Blackpool fan, first game a reserve game v WBA Res 1956, aged 7, smitten for life.Through the many dark times, the tangerine flame still kept burning, flickering at times but never went out. The majority of Pool fans are real fans, we may be a small club but there's real passion in our club, just ask the Gunners who were at the Emirates last week.Ollie is perfect for our club. Whether we stay up or not is , in a way, irrelevant. Just getting to the Prem was such an amazing achievement. What matters is that Blackpool are back!! Ollie needs more players for a very simple reason: it's a squad game and our squad is currently too light.As Phil McNulty suggests, we may just surprise a few people this season.UP THE POOL!!

  • Comment number 16.

    I really want them to stay up! Lets hope they do I think it makes it more interesting for the game.

  • Comment number 17.

    Phil, I suspect that whether Ian Holloway's mission is impossible -or not, will depend on how often/effective will he need to be to pick up the players, fans etc. after the kind of outing they had at the Emirates, then to bounce back and provide the kind of display they delievered yesterday.
    Its all still so very new to Blackpool, playing in the Premiership and whilst they know they will get one or two days when they are likely to be on the end of a drubbing, no-one goes out to play expecting it, so eventually it does hurt.
    How much 'hurt' they can take is crucial - they have some decent players and I suspect there may be one or two other clubs who will have more problems than Blackpool this season, in overall terms, if Blackpool can 'take their lickin's' and keep comming back, as they did yesterday, then who knows? Anyway good luck to Ian and his team, they bring a breathe of fresh air to the top Division of English football.

  • Comment number 18.

    The good thing Blackpool are doing is signing up good quality championship (Varney, Harewood,cathcart etc) players for small money using the lure of the prmier league. This means that if they do get relegated they may well manage to maintain the financial burden of these players and become a good championship team who gets promoted every once in a while. Kinda like West Brom. This is far more beneficial than the pompey/ hull approach that a lot of newly promoted sides use which is to sign relatively expensive foreign imports loading the club with unsustainable debt. The club may enjoy a couple of years in the sun but when they are relegated all the foreign players jump ship for peanuts and the club is crippled with debt unlikely to return to the big time for a while.

  • Comment number 19.

    I really think Blackpool can survive this season, what they have got that many other newly promoted teams often dont, is the ability to play very very nice football. This was evident in yesterdays match, and it was evident when on their travels to Wigan. The 6-0 defeat at Arsenal comes to no real shock, teams that are established in the premiership can go to the emirates and still get the same sort of lesson in football.

    As the season goes on, and the players adapt more to what they need to do, defensively, then I think they will do just fine. It wont be a middle of the table finish for them, but they wont have a survival fight at the bottom either come the end of this season. I stick to what what another used in earlier post, I think it will be the 3 W's that struggle this season, West Brom, West Ham and Wolves, Wigan had a shaky start, but that amazing win at Tottenham will kick start their season now.

  • Comment number 20.

    If the Tangerines can average three or four points against teams in the bottom half of the table, they will survive no matter how often they get thrashed by teams with enough money to buy the town of Blackpool. And to be fair to Holloway he very much has his feet on the ground. I didn't expect that.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think it's refreshing to see Blackpol management not bow to the inflated demands of players/agents etc. Sure, it will probably be to their detriment but a stand has to be made, as the financial inflation in football has to stop some time. Will we see players on a £million a week in the future? Will supporters be prepared to pay £2/300 to go and watch?
    Sounds ridiculous, but is it?

  • Comment number 22.

    Good to see so much optimism about. I was very impressed with the way Blackpool played such an attractive passing game yesterday - they never panicked even when they were behind.

    Can they maintain that style and momentum? Well no-one can answer that yet but it is clear Holloway has his principles and won't be moved...let's just say he made that very clear afterwards.

  • Comment number 23.

    Good blog, Phil. Apologies to Blackpool fans, but I personally just can't see you staying up. I love the way your team plays football, but I do think that it will ultimately be your downfall. It's very difficult for teams at the bottom to play good football, and actually achieve their goals at the same time. 'd love to be proved wrong, though. Just so long as it's not at our expense!

    Much love and respect, and let's hope that both our sets of fans can celebrate at the end of the season. :)

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    last week i watched the fulham game and was very worried for this week , i thought we would struggle against them , what a surprise for me stuck in Canada (not a bad place to be stuck )to see our seasiders playing such lovely football, we really did deserve the win , but if we can play like that most games, we will win some of them & think we will finish midtable .
    people are talking about the thumping we took at the emirates, there were a lot of reasons for that result (extenuating circumstances), no one mentions we could and should have been 1 up before they scored & ofcourse we had a man sent off with a penalty that was clearly outside the box , if gary would have put the header in , this game could have been so very much different .
    in ian holloway, we have a very smart manager , i really do not believe he thought we'd make it to the prem ,
    BUT he is such a motivator , he made the players believe it .
    up the mighty pool from an exiled fan for over 50 years .
    ps i have been back many times & have seen us in all 4 divisions my 1st game was 1953 fa cup final, on a 12 inch tv .

  • Comment number 26.

    I think Blackpool will stay up this season, I don't expect they have the quality in their squad to get very far up the Premier League table, but certainly they've come up with the passion, enthusiasm and quality enough to stay up at least. Holloway is going to find it tough to compete with teams in the top 10 this season with the limited resources he has to work with, but I think that if they can go on to take points from the teams at the bottom end of the table they should be OK and keep their head above the water.

    In my view, West Brom are a 'dead cert' so to speak to go straight back down AGAIN this season, they just do not seem to have the quality in their squad to compete with most Premier League teams. They have in recent years always seemed stubborn in their approach to post-promotion seasons, that is once they've gone up they sit tight in the belief that they can just go on as they were in the division below. In the lower leagues, where my team play, I can say from experience that this usually works quite safely. But in the step up from second to elite top tier of English football is still very big these days, West Brom's main problem seems to be that they don't add enough/anything Premier League quality to their squad after they've been promoted. So this season, with the squad they have, I can't see even a bright young manager like Di Matteo keeping them afloat.

    I think the next most likely relegation candidate is Wigan. They've been in the Premier League now for a few years and they've become somewhat established at this level, but still they continue to struggle at the lower end of the league table barely surviving each season to fight another. Martinez is another bright manager, but he's in a doomed club that will surely be sink this season as they lack quality to compete with at least 14 of the Premier League clubs.

    My last tip for this season's PL relegation is a toss-up between West Ham and Bolton. Avram Grant is a very good manager having had success with Chelsea in recent times, Portsmouth was last season what West Ham is this season - a sinking ship, spiralling down towards relegation from the top tier. They don't have any true leaders in the squad, the likes of Upson, Parker and Cole won't be good enough to keep them up just between themselves and Rob Green will face another hard season with a useless defensive line in front of him. Green is a good goalkeeper but he can't defend every game by himself, West Ham need a rock-solid player or two in that back line to bolster the squad and boost confidence in the attacking areas. Another good striker is also needed to share the workload of Carlton Cole I feel, so maybe West Ham are only three or four new signings away from staying up, but I don't think they'll survive again as they've struggled one too many seasons with no major signs of change coming through. For Bolton, they've just got no star quality in their squad and no-one that will go out and win games for them, they play like a bunch of strangers that met in the car park only an hour before kick-off each week, Coyle needs to restore balance and discipline to that team before they can even think of competing with the higher-level teams.

    My three to go down this season then: West Brom, Wigan, West Ham. Bolton look set to struggle all season, they will be lucky to stay up if only just and Blackpool will do well to finish above the bottom seven but it looks achievable for them.

  • Comment number 27.


    Blackpool would have had a bloody job to average 40,000 with a ground record of 31,000 & a licensed capacity of 33,500 in their heyday!

    Regardless, I'd love them to survive. Holloway is a breath of fresh air & down here in Plymouth it was the worst day's work the local mob ever did to let him drift off to Leicester.

    I was there with Utd in 1971 & no-one in the ground expected it would take 40 years for top-flight football to return. Sincerely hope that it doesn't end in 1 season,like that year did-if anyone can do it, Olly will, believe me!

    On a practical note, the most important point will be to consistently pick up points throughout. You don't want to start like Derby last time up(unable to tie their own shoelaces at this level) nor like Burnley or Hull(1st year) & then start sinking like a stone.

    There may or may not be 3 worse teams on paper, but it's out there on the pitch where we'll find out. Football ain't played on paper, it's played on grass.

  • Comment number 28.

    Some great comments have been made about my beloved 'Pool in the last few weeks, mainly around the fact that we will only survive ONE year in this league.

    Can I tell you something?

    We don't care what people think!! We are Blackpool and we play football like it's supposed to be played! We will never stop trying. We are having the best time we've EVER HAD! We had so many players pushing forward yesterday, we even had our centre back playing in midfield for most of the game.

    OK, we may not survive but we WILL take some scalps this year, and we'll enjoy ourselves in the process.

  • Comment number 29.

    Good luck to Blackpool, really hope they stay up and progress, although budgets would suggest otherwise. If they can hold their nerve when in front who knows?
    The manager is a real character, no bland platitudes from this man. More power to him.

  • Comment number 30.

    I would love Blackpool to stay up, but I can't really see it happening. The most important thing for them this season has got to be safeguarding the future of the club. They didn't sign a player for almost the complete pre-season but have started bringing in new faces now, and it sounds as though Holloway wants to continue doing so. Thats fine, but they have to be careful not to do what so many others have and saddle the club with wages they can't afford should they be relegated, and end up plummeting back down the divisions as quickly as they came up them.

    Even if they are relegated this season they could use their Premiership money and parachute payments to establish themselves as a major force at the top end of the Championship, and look to progress from there.

  • Comment number 31.

    #26 For Bolton, they've just got no star quality in their squad and no-one that will go out and win games for them, they play like a bunch of strangers that met in the car park only an hour before kick-off each week

    Admittedly I've only just read the messages in this thread, but I don't really think anyone who saw Bolton come back from 2-0 down with ten men this afternoon will take this description seriously.

    Regarding star quality, Bolton have one of the best goalkeepers in the Premiership, two excellent young English players in the spine of the team in Gary Cahill and Fabrice Muamba, and top class international wide players in Martin Petrov and Chung Yong Lee.

    They finished 14th last season despite being run into the ground by Gary Megson's turgid brand of football for the first half of it.

    Moving back to Blackpool, I can't really understanding why Ian Holloway feels he needs eight more players. Hasn't he signed about that many already? It can't be good for morale when those new players hear those comments. I too wish them well but the bookmakers have them as between 1/5 and 6/17 on to go down, even after picking up 4 points from their opening 3 games, and those are pretty long odds so soon into the season.

  • Comment number 32.

    Blackpool are a genuine club with genuine fans and have my best wishes, because the Premier league needs clubs that haven't had the soul sucked out of them.

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    Ollie needs upto 8 new players because, as previously mentioned, it's a squad game now and Blackpools squad is perilously wafer thin.

    I admit that 'Pool will get a few "thrashings" this season (we've already had one of 'em) but it's how we perform against the teams in the "mini" league around us, the likes of WBA, WHU, Wigan, Newcastle, Wolves, Bolton and B'burn.

    I was very worried after watching the Fulham, Utd match last week, saying that I would have prefered to have played Utd yesterday as I thought Fulham were a very well organised team that posed a threat every time they went forward.

    After yesterdays performance by the Seasiders I can tell you that my hopes for this season have risen, and I think that even though it will still be difficult, I think we have half a chance of staying up, why not?

    My lads were moaning yesterday that we ONLY had 4 points from three games. I pointed out that if they did the maths and we averaged 4 points every three games we'd easy stay up!!! They were a lot happier after that.

    BTW 'Pools record attendance is 38,000 in 1955 UTP

  • Comment number 35.

    They're in the Premier League, no debt, extending the stadium rather than invest in short term endeavours (which leads onto), sensible staff in charge, relegation candidates sure but they're in a perfect position to come right back up (like West Brom, possibly the best yoyo team around atm).

    I know I'd trade that for quite a few others clubs personally if pride and home was taken out of it (Newcastle after Mike Ashley, Wigan, West Ham without doubt for me, from a footballing perspective Stoke and Blackburn too).

    Also Burnley collapsed for many reasons, injuries and suspensions aside, switching from Owen Coyle to Laws was the death knell of their ambitions. Especially considering the job he's doing at Bolton!

  • Comment number 36.

    I hope that Blackpool do manage to stay up this season. It's more than just a fairy-tale for Blackpool, it also gives a glimmer of hope to other small clubs that it is not impossible to get to the top without a rich benefactor. I am a Scunny fan and am thoroughly enjoying our current stay in the Championship being favourites to make the drop and clinging on for dear life - it's marvelous! The thing is, seeing what Blackpool have achieved in pretty much similar financial circumstances I have now started to dream of bigger things!

    It really is good to see them in the Premiership, I hope it's a long stay - long enough for us to host them at Glanford Park for a premiership fixture.

    I might even start watching the Premership on the telly again now!

  • Comment number 37.

    It is refreshing to have a side in the Premiership that truly enjoys their experience, whether or not they survive. Ian Holloway is a colorful character, and he really has a no-lose situation. If they do stay up, he will be considered a genius, and if they don't, he will get recognition for his effort with limited resources. But Blackpool are not the first, Burnley last season, and Barnsley, Bradford, Luton, Reading, Wimbledon, QPR, and others have been in the same situation. And to be honest, there are worse teams this year than most. Has anyone seen West Ham and Wigan, they are awful? So in my opinion, up the Pool have one spot to shoot for, and they could just pull it off.

  • Comment number 38.

    I still think they will go down but I hope I'm wrong. Their best chance of survival is to do what Hull did - gather as many points as possible in the early part of the season then hang on in there.

  • Comment number 39.

    JohnnyNoMates said 'Shifty little seaside town that rips off its visitors yet some end up becoming residents like nobby and selling dodgy burgers for £8.00 a throw'

    There really is no need for this vitriol JNM. It's no wonder your nick precedes your comments.

    They've got donkeys and Harold Ramsdens Chippy shop of which NO like is seen in Devon. Oh what you got a lighthouse that don't work but costs £4.00 to get near coz a yank bought you out? blinkin hypocrite. Oh and that numpty that swears all the time has opened 2 ala carte chippy shops.

    Olly is the leader of men not farmers. He is like Warnock at QPR wears his heart on his sleeve and deserves a statue in Blackpool already.

    They may survive...

  • Comment number 40.

    For those with Tangerine blood, this is the best trip we've ever been on, to use an expression round these parts. Olly has a system set up that allows players to be the best they can be if you listen to him. Some players need to learn that their ears are just as important as their feet when it comes to football.

    I was there for Barnet 7 Blackpool 0. We've come a long way baby!

  • Comment number 41.

    These days a thrashing means nothing, Chelsea handed out quite a few last season to teams still in the premier league. Villa got hammered this season by Newcastle and last year the got beat 7:1, so it looks like Blackpool are due to finish around the top 6 or 7 on that evidence doesn't it. Is it a fashion to have Orange teams in the premier league these days?

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree that survival (largely) depends on results against the teams around you (e.g. if you are in a relegation fight, you need to stand on the teams involved with you, if you are challenging for the top, you need to get results against other top teams) but there will obviously be exceptions to that.

    I like Blackpool's attractive footballing principles but there will undoubtedly be times where they need to "win ugly". Whether they have the character (both management and players) to be able to do that remains to be seen (at least for me, because I havent been following them too closely).

    On a bigger scale, progress at the top flight generally requires more than just good team spirit and sleeve-rolling - you really do need some top class players and that usually demands investment. To be able to do that on a shoe-string or restrained budget I can imagine is rather hard, as the infrastructure to generate the income to be able to spend on top of already-defined outgoings) needs to be spot on. I can imagine that the fan base (to name but one source) is good right now but they'll probably need to show some progress over time to hang on to that base (again just generally, football fans can be a pretty fickle lot).

    I think the art of management in this case is to be able to bring in complementary players to boost the squad (or as direct replacements for players who have hit their ability ceiling) and still retain the team ethic.

    Good luck to Holloway and Blackpool.

  • Comment number 43.

    @Anne (no. 8)

    Listen love don't believe everything that you read in the papers. I've been a Chelsea fan for nearly 30 years and as a 33 year old that involves a lot of comparably bleak times too.

    I'm sick of little clubs coming up and babbling on about how loyal, proud and dedicated they are. All fans that regularly watch their teams are as dedicated as each other. If Blackpool get back to the days of winning the top division they would without doubt have an element of glory hunters and prawn sandwich eaters too.

    This is just the way football works.

  • Comment number 44.

    As a Preston North End fan, I don't usually have anything good to say about our neighbours Blackpool or Burnley. But, they have both done well. I am envious of them having got to the Premier League.
    It's such a pity that everyone outside of these clubs talks about them enjoying their one season in the top flight.
    What does it say about the state of football in England. Blackpool and Burnley and Preston fill the pages of football history along with many other 'smaller' clubs such as Huddersfield,Derby,Chalton,Bradford etc. But there is no level playing field these days. Money, and lots of it, is the only real guarantee of success. The 'smaller' clubs cannot compete on money terms, so the Premier League will always be a virtual closed shop. There will always be the Chelseas, Arsenals, Man Utd's in there with a dozen other also ran big clubs with less money. Smaller clubs will be allowed to join for a season or two to act as points fodder for the big guns, but they will never be allowed to get a foothold. I think the only exceptions have been Blackburn and Wigan, although both have benefited from wealthy benefactors.
    What has this elitism given to Enlish football? For the answer, you need only look at the recent performance of our national team at the World Cup in South Africa!!!
    From a local point of view, I say this through gritted teeth - good look to you Blackpool, I hope you survive in the top flight, if only to encourage other 'smaller' clubs that it can be done. Realistically, I can't see them getting more than 10 points and I'm afraid that they must get used to the more than occasional hammering from the likes of Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea.

  • Comment number 45.

    I expect Blackpool to survive this season in the Premier League. It will be very hard but I hope Blackpool stay up!

  • Comment number 46.

    "you ask any of the 3000 pool fans inside the emirates singing and making more noise than 60000 gooners if they were having a dark day!!!"

    Was impressed with the sense of humour of your fans actually. Tho away fans always make more noise than our home crowd, but thats what happens when you become a big club and half the stadium is full of tourists on a day out. Plus we made more noise away at Anfield than 40000 Liverpool fans.

    I hope you stay up tbh but do feel you need players in. If that has to be on loan then so be it because a team full of championship players aint enough in this league

  • Comment number 47.

    "There will always be the Chelseas, Arsenals, Man Utd's in there with a dozen other also ran big clubs with less money"

    Id like to seperate us from chelsea and utd as we are actually a well run club that doesnt spend beyond our means. Utd in all honesty should be liquidated the debt there in

  • Comment number 48.

    At 11:36am on 30 Aug 2010, Ichi_1 wrote:
    "There will always be the Chelseas, Arsenals, Man Utd's in there with a dozen other also ran big clubs with less money"

    Id like to seperate us from chelsea and utd as we are actually a well run club that doesnt spend beyond our means. Utd in all honesty should be liquidated the debt there in


    OK, I agree, Arsenal are a well run club and shouldn'nt be in the same category as Chelsea and Man Utd and others whose financial situations would not be tolerated outside football.
    Arsenal are, however a BIG club, compared to the likes of Blackpool. Any one of a dozen Arsenal players would be valued at more than the entire Blackpool team and Arsenal have such a large catchment population that they can fill a 600000 stadium every week.

    I do agree that there are some big clubs who should be facing bankrupcy. My own club, PNE, recently faced the prospect of administration because they were late with a payment of £500,000 to HMCR. It's certainly one law for the rich and one for the poor. If all clubs generally had to work within their incomes, the Premier League would be extinct.

    There are millions of us supporters of smaller clubs who are denied the realistic prospect of playing regularly in the top flight due to location or unfashionsionability. There are only so many multi-millionairres about!

  • Comment number 49.

    47. At 11:36am on 30 Aug 2010, Ichi_1 wrote:
    "There will always be the Chelseas, Arsenals, Man Utd's in there with a dozen other also ran big clubs with less money"

    Id like to seperate us from chelsea and utd as we are actually a well run club that doesnt spend beyond our means. Utd in all honesty should be liquidated the debt there in


    Someone else who doesn't understand the nature of debt and is misinformed by the media. Man Utd's debt is a leveraged debt which applies to the loan that their owners took out in order to buy the club. Hence it's a debt that the Glazers took out for their own purchase of Manchester United, and is a debt that belongs to the Glazers' company.

    Manchester United's turnover makes it the 2nd most profitable club in the world, after Real Madrid. This is why 'the club' is not in administration or in threat of liquidation. The 'debt' is the Glazers' debt repayment. Man Utd is just one of their 'assets'.

  • Comment number 50.

    "Little Blackpool" will go down, and hopefully provide another nail in the coffin for the absurd English notion that being 'brave', 'plucky' or 'determined' is in any way a substitute for being 'skillful'

  • Comment number 51.

    49. At 12:59pm on 30 Aug 2010, Someone Less Imaginative Stole My Username wrote:

    47. At 11:36am on 30 Aug 2010, Ichi_1 wrote:
    "There will always be the Chelseas, Arsenals, Man Utd's in there with a dozen other also ran big clubs with less money"

    Id like to seperate us from chelsea and utd as we are actually a well run club that doesnt spend beyond our means. Utd in all honesty should be liquidated the debt there in


    Someone else who doesn't understand the nature of debt and is misinformed by the media. Man Utd's debt is a leveraged debt which applies to the loan that their owners took out in order to buy the club. Hence it's a debt that the Glazers took out for their own purchase of Manchester United, and is a debt that belongs to the Glazers' company.

    Manchester United's turnover makes it the 2nd most profitable club in the world, after Real Madrid. This is why 'the club' is not in administration or in threat of liquidation. The 'debt' is the Glazers' debt repayment. Man Utd is just one of their 'assets'.

    And to pay for their ever increasing debt they will have to 'asset strip' the club.

  • Comment number 52.

    blackpool may not survive the PL for least,they have all the chances to escape relegation this year,unless they foolishly sack holloway.

  • Comment number 53.

    Wales_wails writes,

    "Little Blackpool" will go down, and hopefully provide another nail in the coffin for the absurd English notion that being 'brave', 'plucky' or 'determined' is in any way a substitute for being 'skillful'

    and from another thread,

    "just so long as 'little' blackpool deservedly go down, i don't really care about anyone else."

    Ooooooooooh, no guessing who you support then eh?

    Still bitter about the 22nd May 2010

    Just keep supporting your debt ridden club and leave the Premier league to us pal.

    Oh and BTW, if you're THAT bothered about absurd English notions, I sugest you go to your board of directors to see if you lot can toddle off back to the "land of your fathers" to play professional football there.

    Heaven forbid a foreign club in the ENGLISH premier league

  • Comment number 54.

    Lets be real here, Blackpool hit the finacial jockpot by getting promoted, this money should they stay up or the parachute payments should they go down will keep this old club in business for years to come. I dont expect many players joining on even slightly elevated salaries in the next week as it just doesnt make finacial sense in the long run. If they stay up then maybe next year. Business is business after all.
    I think 'Ollie' and his style of managemnet and football is great to see and is enhancing his reputation on a weekly basis.
    Good luck tangerines and thanks for Paul Stewart back in the day.

  • Comment number 55.

    @50 - You can be brave, plucky and skillfull. To be frank, I would rather watch a team with a bit of passion about them than a gang of expensive misfits juggling the ball about like a bunch of circus clowns.

    Anyway, the few times I watched Blackpool last year, they were indeed brave, plucky and skillfull - the playoff final kind of showed that off nicely.

    There is nothing wrong with the underdog spirit anyway. I'm sure that when the 'other united' come to Glanford park in the carling cup later this month there will be more than a few people hoping we do a bit of giant tickling! Doesn't matter though, we can beat 6-1 as far as I am concerned as long as we are brave, plucky and determined ;-)

  • Comment number 56.

    Lots of good points well made in the responses above.

    Can Blackpool survive in the Premier League ? Why not, other so called relegation fodder teams have done so in the past (Birmingham, Reading, Wigan to name but a few).

    From what I understand not being a Blackpool fan, they started their preperations for the premier league a long time after everyone else, they are working within a tight budget, and Ollie will have to beg, steal and borrow players to put a squad together. Nobody gave them much hope of staying up in the Championship last year, yet they went out with the attitude to attack teams, and if they conceeded goals so what, they just tried to outscore the opposition.

    As he rightly points out, now that they have reached the promised land, they will have to be more defensively minded on occassions, and whether he brings in another 4,5,6, or 10 players, the players already there, will be under no illusion they are already good enough.

    As far as relegation candidates go, the over hyped Premier League, could see any of about 12 teams go down. While Blackpool may not get points of the top 2 or 3 (Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal), the rest are beatable. Why be scared of the likes of Man City, Spurs, Everton and Villa (the second big 4). They all blow hot and cold.

    Sure they may get a few hammerings along the way, but they have a chance. The keeper, Charlie Adam, Fletcher Taylor, Harewood, Baptiste, Varney,are decent players and those that he does bring in will fit in to the team structure.

    Personally, I have lots of time for Ollie. Couldn't stop the superhoops from being relegated some years ago, but the following season started off with 8 pros on the books, no money, no players,and little hope. Yet he moulded a squad together, formed a bond with them, and got us out of the 3rd tier. In terms of league position at the end of last season, QPR had not progreesed one iota since he left.

    Good luck to Ollie and Blackpool, wish them well, and gives every team in the football leagues hope.

    As far as the relegation candidates go, I think Wigan might fall from grace this year, have Stoke been rumbled (tactically and players falling out with the manager, Beattie, Kitson, Tuncay, Lawrence, Begovic all in the last 6 months ?. Wolves, West Ham, Birmingham, West Brom, Blackpool, some of the above might be the usual suspects in terms of whose going to go down, but I think the latter 2, can survive.

  • Comment number 57.

    I hope Blackpool stay up, they are an inspiration to football fans all over the country who can only dream of seeing their team play in the Premiership. I very much doubt I will live to see Hartlepool in the top flight!

    Having said that I don't fancy them to stay up, along with Wigan and West Brom I fancy them to struggle over the course of 38 games. Burnley started well last year but then faded.

    For a change I would love to be proved wrong!

  • Comment number 58.

    Is this the annual "talk them into relegation, make them think they're going to get relegated" propoganda by the BBC. How long before Ian Holloway has a BBC microphone placed in front of his face for an interview on Match of the Day and the focus of the journalist will be on the booing fan's and people talking about his position at the club ? Phil Brown battled valiantly against a massive tide of negative opinion, is Holloway the next victim of the annual witch hunt?

  • Comment number 59.

    Ian Holloway's "Mission Impossible" can be compared to another "Mission Impossible currently being wished for at Anfield. One is definetly more possible than the other ? Poor ol'Roy. Correct headline, wrong manager.

  • Comment number 60.

    Bolton fan here. I hope Blackpool stay up, better playing a local team win or lose, than those so called big teams from down south. Blackpool did very well getting into the premier so with a lot of luck they just might stay there. Goo luck lads.

  • Comment number 61.

    JoeC wrote and i quote "Doesn't look too promising when your manager says he desperately needs eight more players and the calvary to arrive by Tuesday in order to stay up does it? What does that say to the players you've got at the moment...hardly very motivating is it"....It says alot about the players says there not a bunch of money grabbers....They need the players to last out the season. The players they have are doing and will do a good job. Like the Big 4 or should say the buy the title 4 swop out players to rest them, Blackpool needs to do the same. I would love to see them stay up and if they do i hope I.H stays and does not get snapped up by someone else.

  • Comment number 62.

    Why should they simply regard promotion as the start of the road to relegation, even though many of us have predicted that fate for them?

    Simple. They have two options, either try everything to stay up, which emans bringing in players with premier league experience on big wages continually for 3-4 years (Hull, Reading etc. proved that 1 year isnt enough) or admit to likely relegation and instead spend that money on building the club foundations.

    Thankfully Blackpool appear to be doing the sensible thing and going for option B. The club needs investment from the bottom up, this is the reason they were relegation favourites last year, if they use this windfall to develop themselves then they can safeguard themselves as league championship promotion contenders for years to come.

    That doesn't mean that they don't try of course, but be sensible, bring in players who you can live with keeping after relegation, let them play with their hearts on their sleeves, with no fear or expectation nd maybe just maybe miracles can happen.

  • Comment number 63.

    Holloway is doing a fantastic job and good luck to him, even as a liverpool fan im glad to see smaller clubs giving it a go and i think if blackpool continue to play with as much spirit and determination they may just stay up. And if they dont then atleast they have been sensible with their money

  • Comment number 64.

    I was at The Emirates and as an Arsenal fan I thought that Blackpool looked tight and competent and until the sending off (which I thought was harsh) did not look like they would ship 6.

    Provided that they can win against the teams around them and nick some away draws and even surprise some of the top teams I think that they will survive for a 2nd season in the top flight.

    I would agree with some of the above consensus, if your team begins with a W you'll be in for a long worrying season.

  • Comment number 65.

    I am a blackpool fan and have been since i was born. I am delighted that we made it to the premier league, having said that i see alot of people questioning how we got there. We aren't a one man team, Holloway sees talent in players and realises they will blend with the players we have already, we might no have messi,ronaldo,rooney etc but we have a amazing manager and a brilliant set of players who all believe now they are in the premiership they can stay there.

    Compared to other teams in the league, we dont have alot of money e.g. City, Chelsea but thats where we have the upper hand as a smaller reputation club the big players under perform against us whilst we step up. I don't think we are going to stay up i no we are! Wigan, West Ham and West brom in my opinion will go down after the poor starts they have had to the campaign.

    On behalf of me and everyone in Blackpool go on lads and Holloway you are the man!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 66.

    Blackpool fan above, your saying west brom have had a poor start, we have played chelsea and liverpool away in our first three games, not exactly easy is it. And the other game against sunderland we you cant base our season on us playing chelsea and liverpool.
    Anway i hope blackpool stay up because there a great club and they deserve a crack and the premier league after all those years in the lower leagues.


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