When Blackpool Football Club made it to the Championship play-offs last year, nobody – nobody! – gave them a chance of getting into the Premier League. But they did. They beat Nottingham Forest in the play-off semi’s and they beat Cardiff in the play-off final. Then everybody said they’d do just as bad as Derby did a few years ago. (Derby got 11 points for the entire season.) They said Blackpool would never in a million years survive, they didn’t have the squad, the depth, anything.
Fast forward from August 2010 to May 2011, to now, and although you’ll currently find Blackpool hovering outside the relegation zone on goal difference, but that only tells half the story. Because Blackpool have been far from rubbish during this season. They started brilliantly, and have beaten some big teams. At one point they were in the top four, and although 2011 hasn’t been kind to them (it’s their form since the start of 2011 that has plunged them into the relegation mire), they are a team that has a heck of a lot of guts about them.
Blackpool’s reason for their good season (no matter what happens, they have had an outstanding season and have far surpassed everybody’s expectations) is their attacking football. No matter where Blackpool play – Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, St James’ Park – Blackpool attack. Even when they’re 2-0 up, they still attack, they still want to score more goals and it’s so refreshing! Usually newly promoted teams defend and park the bus, but Blackpool have shown that it is possible to be adventurous in your play and to win against big teams.
I think a lot of Blackpool’s spirit comes from Ian Holloway, their manager. He has rapidly become one of my favourite managers. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, he’s refreshingly honest, and the way he speaks about Blackpool and its players shows that he is truly passionate about the club. And because he doesn’t let Blackpool’s bad form get him down, it also means it doesn’t get the players down or the fans. No matter what, everyone connected to Blackpool think they have what it takes to survive. Heck, I think even all the neutral football fans want Blackpool to survive because of how they play. I don’t see all of their games, but I’m always hoping for them to win, because they brighten up the league no end.
If Blackpool aren’t in the Premier League next season it will be a tragedy. I understand that if they go down that means they didn’t get enough points, I’m not stupid, but for passion alone, Blackpool would be top of the table. They bring something different to the league and I don’t think there is anyone who would be thankful they’re gone. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Seasiders in the big time, mixing it with the big boys and I’d feel sad if they get relegated. I am and always will be a Manchester United fan, but no matter what happens I think I now have a soft spot for Blackpool. Because they have brought some fun to the Premier League this season that’s for sure.