Season 2005/06 Preview - Blackpool
The Seasiders had to wait until the 23rd October last season under rookie manager Colin Hendry to finally claw themselves out of the bottom four after one of the worst starts to a league campaign that fans could remember. The 4-0 drubbing at home by Stockport County being typical of the many unbearable games we had to endure around this time. One of the few highspots last term was the 2-2 draw in Round three of the FA Cup against Leicester City at the Walker stadium when the Seasiders at one stage found themselves 2-1 in front with under 10 minutes left to play.
How do you think you'll do this season? Hopes, final position.
Well the bookies don't fancy us once again and who can blame them even the fans are resigning themselves to another mid-table finish following last seasons clear-out. The most I can hope for (don't laugh) is perhaps that Blackpool may sneak into a very an unlikely play-off place.
What's your squad like, new signings, etc?
We said goodbye to Richie Wellens, Martin Bullock and Scott Taylor last season and all are difficult acts to follow. However after the Summer comings and goings we are left with a fairly bare squad only the arrival of Doncaster midfielder John Doolan, Oldham's Scott Vernon have filled the gaps but we are still looking at a number of players including 27-year-old Accrington Stanley winger Rory Prendergast. With the powerhouse of Peter Clarke and Tony Butler in defence and the PFA Fans' Player of the Season for League One in Keith Southern in midfield the attack has also the proven goalscorers in both John Murphy and Keigan Parker which would suggest that opponents would be very unwise to completely dismiss a Blackpool side entering its 5th year in this division.
Which youngster will make the biggest impression in your team this season?
The youngsters were all given a chance last season but none really caught the eye but great things are still expected from Jamie Burns and Matthew Blinkhorn, 21 and 19 respectively, each will be at Bloomfield Road until the summer of 2007 following extensions to their current deals. Whilst striker Blinkhorn has been out of the side for most of the season for various reasons, the latest a prolonged shoulder problem, Burns has had plenty of opportunities on the left of midfield, making 22 starts.
What's your manager like and will he still be there at the end of the season?
Colin Hendry took over the reins following Steve McMahon's departure and despite an awful start he recovered enough to be nominated for the manager of the month award in March 2005 which was the second successive month that the Scot had been on the shortlist for the prize following ‘Pool’s incredible upturn in fortunes since the turn of the year. The Seasiders' solitary defeat at Wednesday was the only low point of a magnificent March which saw victories over Walsall, Bournemouth and Brentford as well as draws with Doncaster and Hartlepool - despite playing for more than an hour in each of those games with ten men. That superb run led Sky Sports pundit Chris Kamara, who is part of the panel that decides the winner of the divisional awards, to suggest 'Pool could be involved in the promotion race next term.
Are you happy with your Chairman/Backroom staff?
Karl Oyston appears to have delivered where his father the multi-millionaire Owen Oyston so disastrously failed. There is no doubting the love hate relationship he continues to have with many fans who point to the lack of progress over the years but Blackpool remain one of the few solvent clubs in the lower leagues and with the appointment of Hendry supporters are giving the manager and his team the time to develop a squad capable of retuning the Seasiders to the championship.
Which team do you want to beat the most and why?
Most of Blackpool's local rivals play in higher divisions these days and Pool fans will point to these type of derbies as the most important games to win and which are so sadly missed at present. Now we have to look much further afield for local games but our form against top six sides has been so shockingly bad improvement here this term could spell a revival in fortunes.
Predict your champions and runner up, the 4 Play-Off teams and the 4 to go down.
Top 6: Nottingham Forest, Tranmere R, Huddersfield T, Hartlepool Utd, Bristol C, Barnsley
To go down: Colchester, Scunthorpe Utd, Southend Utd, Chesterfield
Catch up with all the going on at Bloomfield Road.