Someone must be cataloging these headlines, surely? I’m beginning to lose count.
Blackpool have been handed a suspended three points deduction from the FA in consequence of their pitch invasion against Huddersfield Town in May. So, Blackpool won’t begin the season on Saturday with -3 points, but if Blackpool fans intervene on the pitch during play again, the deduction will come in to play.
What this story doesn’t highlight as much as the possible points deduction, is should an invasion reoccur, the next home fixture Blackpool play, they will be be forced to play it behind closed doors. As far as Blackpool fans are concerned, this behind closed doors game will result in a loss of income for the Oystons – who need no introduction – thus resulting as an incentive to repeat the protest, regardless of the eventual end result on the pitch.
This possibility will hang over Bloomfield Road like a dark cloud and despite ‘Pool fans will do anything to raise further awareness of their club’s dreadful plight, a word of caution is echoed among each other. Why? Primarily, they want to keep fans of other clubs and the football community in general onside. There’s no question the majority of the football community back the fan’s protests, however, neutrals are also aware of the implications invasions can have on the support of the away team. As hated as any football owners can be, there is always room for sympathy concerning supporters who make long journeys up and down the country to follow their side.
Once again, it seems Blackpool’s season will be over-shadowed by off the pitch issues. If there was an award for most comical club, Blackpool would have been handed the honour months ago. It’s incredibly sad that Blackpool fans can barely converse about football in general with any real conviction, as the Seasiders are tipped to slide straight through the division, with or without a points deduction, with a squad that looks very under-prepared. A combination of off the field issues and on the field catastrophes can only be tamed by a good sense of humour, and boy, are ‘Pool fans going to need that.
Lately, an issue that has reared its ugly head multiple times in the past, does so again. It doesn’t help when you’re squad is hugely inexperienced, but when the surface they ply their trade keeps on attempting to imitate a backdrop on Countryfile, it offers the side no chance at all. The geniuses at Bloomfield Road thought that hosting a concert for Neil Diamond in July was a bright idea, clearly having not learnt from the Rod Stewart concert a year earlier which affected the pitch. A little over a week away and only as recently as Wednesday were rolls of grass being relayed in place of where the stage was located for the concert. Blackpool fans have clung on to this with a plenty of irony as the commercial Blackpool Twitter account told one fan to “stop talking drivel” concerning the pitch’s state subsequently after the Neil Diamond concert. This tweet has since been deleted. There are many terms to describe Blackpool these days, a club in the Premier League as recently as 2011, but ‘unprofessional’ is up there with the most relevant.
Aside pitch invasions, fines, points deductions, poor pitches, a poor squad and pure non professionalism, there is also the issue of communication, or lack of, between the club and the world in general. Lately, there seems to be an unpopular trend of clubs only keeping their ‘media partners’ in the loop, for example, for press conferences. Newcastle and Swindon Town are other clubs who are initiating this isolation, but for Blackpool, surely communication is a temporary saving grace for the owners who are on borrowed time any way? Of course not. The Blackpool Gazette’s Will Watt has been regularly keeping in check with Seasiders on Twitter and on Thursday tweeted the Gazette was not welcome at Bloomfield Road for the morning’s press conference.
“Blackpool hold their pre-match press conference at 9:30am this morning. The Gazette have been told we aren’t welcome.”
The impression seems to be that the Oystons have thrown in the towel concerning making any sort of subtle reconciliations with Blackpool’s fan base and the Gazette. It’s almost as if this unprofessionalism is deliberate. There’s no element within recent events to suggest the owners are merely incompetent rather than deliberately making the club look bad. Over the course of the last year, when events such as these and many others beforehand have arisen, the club have made no effort to address the fans and ensure measures are being taken to resolve issues and install solidity. They are simply swept under the carpet.
To conclude this rather depressing article, a second coach in under a week has walked out on the club. On Tuesday, goalkeeping coach Bobby Mimms left for neighbours Bolton and his replacement, Fred Barber, arrived almost immediately after. Now, the latter has also quit his role, on Thursday, lasting a mere two days. Barber had arrived at Blackpool from fellow League One side Crewe but Alexandra boss Steve Davis said Barber “had a change of heart” after the two endured a lengthy conversation and returned to Cheshire two days later.
So far, no reasons have been stated as to why Fred Barber made this sudden U-turn.
Blackpool kick off their League One campaign away at Colchester and the game will be an early indicator on whether both of these sides, who are tipped for relegation, will indeed struggle this season.[separator type=”thin”]
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What will Bright Osayi-Samuel bring to Queens Park Rangers?
Queens Park Rangers finally announced the arrival Bright Osayi-Samuel from Blackpool, almost 24-hours after the transfer window closed.
Hoops’ manager Ian Holloway had tracked the talented winger’s progress at his former club and was impressed enough to make a bid. However, as reported by West London Sport, it was believed that the move had failed.
On ‘deadline day’ both clubs were curiously quiet on the subject, whilst the player himself took to Snapchat to vent frustration at the proposed deal falling through.
Osayi-Samuel certainly has potential, but QPR fans should not expect him to make an instant impact in the Championship. Last campaign, in League Two, he made 31 appearances, scoring four, assisting three and picked up one ‘EFL young player of the month award’.
His most impressive moment was a goal in which he effectively assisted himself. The clip received national attention at the time and can be seen below.
Assist: Osayi-Samuel ??
Goal: Osayi-Samuel ?
— Football League Zone (@TheFLZone) March 22, 2017
The above video highlights the winger’s pace, undoubtedly his most impressive attribute, and something he regularly combines with skill and control to leave defenders on their knees. Of course, Championship defenders will show greater resistance, but Osayi-Samuel’s confidence in taking people on will see supporters rise to their feet at Loftus Road.
Only three years ago, the attacker had never played within a professional setup and was scouted whilst playing in a London park. His remarkable story has been covered by BBC Sport.
Understandably for a young player still new to the game, his talents remain raw. Blackpool fans have seen him frequently squander excellent scoring opportunities and suffer from questionable decision-making.
However, both of those aspects can be improved upon in training. In Ian Holloway, QPR arguably have the ideal attack-minded coach to get the best out of Bright. The Bristolian manager favors a famously gung-ho approach, which will suit a player who offers little in the way of defensive support.
Osayi-Samuel was yet to score on Blackpool’s return to League One, but only four games had been played. Of those, the Tangerines won both which the Winger started. Although his profligacy in front of goal appears to have continued, he has looked stronger on the ball with increased physicality.
QPR fans should be excited by Bright’s arrival, but patience will be key for all parties. The 19-year-old has plenty of time to fulfill his considerable potential and is likely to prove frustrating in the meantime.
His capture, ahead of interest from other big clubs, is a good sign of positive changes at Loftus Road. Those in charge have promised long-term planning and ambition without reckless spending, Osayi-Samuel fits the bill perfectly.
“Longstaff is too good for League One” – Three things learnt from Blackpool 1-0 Wimbledon
Whilst World Cup qualifiers have given English football’s top two tiers the week off, the lower leagues continued with almost full sets of fixtures.
One of League One’s ten matches over the weekend saw AFC Wimbledon lose to one of the division’s newly promoted sides Blackpool.
The Seasiders have made a good start to the season, having won three and lost one of their opening five games, exceeding expectations as one of the favourites for relegation. Interestingly, they have so far out performed all three of Doncaster Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth, who were promoted ahead of them from League Two.
Wimbledon have now lost three of their league games and are one of four clubs currently sat just a single point above relegation at this early stage.
Here are three things that The Boot Room learnt from the game:
Sean Longstaff is too good for League One
Signed on loan from Newcastle United, Sean Longstaff has hit the ground running in Tangerine. The 19-year-old netted the winner on Saturday and now has four goals from as many starts in the league, proving instrumental in all three of Blackpool’s home victories.
The scoring record, despite being over a short period, is remarkable for a midfielder, particularly one so young. Not only has he been finding the net, but he has done so in style and Saturday was no different.
Following a long-ball from goalkeeper Ryan Allsopp and a flick-on, Longstaff collected the ball and charged into Wimbledon’s penalty area, holding off three defenders and swivelling to find the bottom corner.
Seeing Longstaff on the score sheet was no surprise and the effort was a worthy follow-up to his successive League One goal of the week’s – both thunderous strikes from range.
Blackpool are solid at home
Blackpool have now played three times at home this season, securing a maximum nine points and conceding just once in the process. Although two of the wins, including Saturday’s, have been 1-0 score lines, they showed against Wimbledon an ability to dominate a game.
Aside from a brilliant Allsopp save to deny Cody McDonald at the end of the first-half, the Dons rarely threatened and found themselves restricted to few opportunities.
On the other hand, Blackpool were unfortunate not to score at least a second and were denied by the post a couple of times in the second-half. In failing to double their lead the Tangerines highlighted an inability to kill games off, which could prove detrimental in the future.
Wimbledon can execute a plan
Despite the home side’s wasteful dominance in the second half, the first 45 minutes offered little entertainment from either side, partly due to Wimbledon’s effective closing down.
It was clear that they had prepared to have less possession, but knew how to stifle a Blackpool midfield which struggles from a lack of creativity – something made worse by the departures of Brad Potts and Bright Osayi-Samuel.
The Tangerines were frequently forced into careless misplaced passes, confined into the middle third of the pitch and found themselves out numbered during efforts to advance on the wings.
In fact, the best chance of the half (by some distance) fell to Wimbledon, who could have led at the break from a well-disciplined performance.
It was only after conceding that the side imploded. Nadjim Abdou received a straight red-card for an unnecessary two-footed challenge just minutes after going behind. His departure marked the end of Wimbledon’s competitiveness in the match.
League Two play-off semi-finals: Controversy, goals, and more to come?
The League Two playoffs finally kicked off on Sunday evening, the last of the English league’s to get the season reignited after a dramatic ‘final-day’.
Undoubtedly, more neutrals will have tuned in for the Championship equivalent earlier in the day, only to see Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday fight out a tense 0-0 draw, amassing just two shots on target between them.
Those who showed an interest in the rarely televised League Two were rewarded with a goal fest regardless of the fixture they chose, with Blackpool beating Luton Town 3-2 and Carlisle United and Exeter City drawing 3-3.
Both matches were set up to be close affairs, Luton had twice got the better of Blackpool this season, claiming six points from the Seasiders with 1-0 and 2-0 victories. Meanwhile, Carlisle and Exeter has become a tie guaranteed to provide goals, with the Cumbrians having won 3-2 on both occasions prior to the playoffs. There have been 20 goals in their last four meetings.
Of the four sides, Luton finished closest to automatic promotion in 4th but could only secure a trip to Bloomfield Road and an opportunity to overcome an abysmal playoff record. Over the last 20 years, The Hatters have failed in all four of their playoff campaigns, a statistic made even bleaker The Seasiders’ positive record of being the only to side to have been promoted from each division through the system.
Some calamitous goalkeeping saw Blackpool take the lead on 19-minutes, amidst calls for a possible handball. However, just 9-minutes later the home side were 2-1 down, having been torn apart all too easily by Luton’s attack. Within that period, The Tangerines wasted a great opportunity to go 2-0 up and striker Kyle Vassell hit the crossbar at 1-1.
Despite those chances, Luton deserved their half-time lead and could easily have extended it before the break, the home side looked vulnerable for a long period.
Further north at Brunton Park, Carlisle once more found themselves behind to Exeter after Joel Grant headed his side in front. Fortunately for The Cumbrians, The Grecians’ defender Jordan Moore-Taylor turned a cross into his own net on 32 minutes, levelling the tie.
Exeter regained the lead just before half-time and were able to extend it shortly after the interval through David Wheeler, with Grant providing his second assist of the evening.
Carlisle had already won twice when being 2-1 down to Exeter this campaign, including in the regular season’s final day. Yet suddenly they were two behind when it mattered most. After making use of all three substitutions, the home side scored twice in two minutes to level the match which ended 3-3.
The Devon club had two goals disallowed for close off-side calls and rattled the woodwork at the game’s death. Despite those chances and earlier lead, Exeter are still yet to beat any of their playoff rivals this season, something they will need to overturn to progress on Thursday night.
Blackpool began their second half perfectly, with ex-Luton man Mark Cullen scoring his second of the night with an impressive strike from distance on 47-minutes. From then on, The Seasiders looked on top of proceedings, testing goalkeeper Stuart Moore throughout and looking to capitalise on his uncertain handling.
With just over twenty minutes to go the home side’s constant pressure earnt them a penalty. Luton captain Scott Cuthbert had been pulling the shirt of Tom Aldred during previous set-pieces, which this was brought to the attention of the officials by Blackpool’s players and coaches. Despite this opportunity to then stop, the centre-back hauled his counterpart to the ground in the area, giving Cullen the opportunity for a hat trick against his old side which he took from the spot.
Later in the match, the home side rode their luck as they played more defensively and looked certain to concede when four defenders were unable to clear from their own penalty area. Having survived that scare and what seemed like an eternity of injury-time, Blackpool go into Thursday’s second-leg with a slight advantage.
If those first matches are anything to go by, this season’s league 2 playoffs will go down as classics, and both ties will surely see more goals. Exeter and Carlisle appear to know no other way of playing each other than going all-out, whilst it remains to be seen whether The Grecians can defend a lead. The same can be said about Blackpool, who despite their single goal advantage, have just as hard a test in their second match.
Gary Bowyer’s men held the lead twice on Sunday evening, firstly they capitulated and were behind less than 10 minutes later, and although they held on at the end, it is clear that a defensive game plan will not work for them over 90 minutes.
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