Tottenham vs Blackpool Preview: Tangerine Dreaming
Big game on Sunday, huge game in fact. Absolutely massive. Well maybe not quite that big but being at the sharp end of the table this season has meant all our games have been important and this one’s no different. It’s the one the travelling army have been waiting for so they can tick Bloomfield Road off their grounds visited list, but it also has the potential to be one of this seasons best games.
Both teams play open, attractive football and both teams have been gaining praise from all quarters. Blackpool for their part have been exceptionally entertaining and fully deserve their place in the top flight and currently sit 10th only 5 points behind us. They’ve scored 24 goals, compared to our 25 but have conceded 29, making us look like we’ve got a great defence. This game must have goals and plenty of them.
It’ll be very interesting to see how we line up, especially as the news on the injury front is good for a change with vdV definitely being in the squad and possibly given a start. Personally, while I hate the 4-4-1-1 formation we play when he starts we’d be better off playing that than our normal rigid 4-4-2. Blackpool have shown this season that playing 4-4-2 against them will often lead to you being overrun in midfield. Blackpool play a 4-2-1-3 formation with Charlie Adam sitting between the oppositions midfield and defence, often finding time and space, which would account for the large amount of assists he’s got already this season.
However, Adam, arguably Blackpool’s best player is suspended so we don’t have to worry about him. They’re unlikely to change their formation though so we’ll have to counter the threat from whoever sits in that hole. Play the right team in the right formation and we should have enough to score one more than them, get it wrong and we should be surprised if we lost. This is not a team to take lightly, even if they haven’t been in the top flight very long.
That’s enough from me for today, so lets have a Q&A session with a Blackpool fan to finish things off. I introduce to you Chris Walker.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to support Blackpool
I’ve been a Blackpool fan since before I can remember, and my Grandad indoctrinated me from an early age sneaking into games for the last 10-15 minutes when they used to open the gates to let people out. I started going regularly when the late Billy Ayre was manager back in the early 90s. As well as being a season ticket holder at various times, I also sold programmes for five years which got me into games for free. I moved to Sheffield in 2004 for university and have been in exile ever since, but as a member of the Yorkshire Seasiders I’ve still been able to attend 30+ games a season.
As of this season I have been running a blog called Up The ‘Pool. On the blog I write a variety of articles about current affairs at Blackpool FC, as well as writing match reports with a heavy slant on the tactical side of things, making heavy use of the Guardian’s chalkboards feature.
How are you enjoying your first season in the Premier League and what are your expectations?
Expectations at the start of the season, and now, are two very different things. It was a difficult build up to the season as the club struggled to get up to Premier League standards both on and off the pitch. With a week to go before the start of the season we had barely enough players to fill the subs bench, and I was beginning to expect the worst. To be honest I’d more or less resigned myself to relegation, but then on our budget, it would have been unreasonable to expect what we’ve achieved so far.
The season to date has been an absolute joy and after many years following Blackpool in the lower leagues, you almost have to pinch yourself when you see ‘Pool winning at places like Anfield. The team have only been outclassed on a couple of occasions at Arsenal and Chelsea, but that’s hardly something to be ashamed of. Performances and results have been way beyond belief and for that the whole playing staff should be congratulated. However, with the early season promise comes elevated expectations and it would be deeply disappointing if we fail to stay up now. There’s still a long way to go, but as long as we don’t lose too many of our star players in January, I can’t see us falling apart like Burnley and Hull have in recent seasons.
It’s been a breath of fresh air watching Blackpool this season, how much of that is down to Ian Holloway?
Holloway has been the catalyst for our meteoric rise in the last 18 months, so he must take the majority of the credit. He came in and completely changed the attitude of the players. When he first took the job he asked the players what their ambitions were for the season and they all replied “to stay in the Championship”. Holloway has instilled a positive attitude into the whole club and managed to get us promoted with a lot of the same players who had been believed to be punching above their weight just by surviving in the Championship.
The change from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 (and this season 4-2-1-3) has also had a massive impact, with many opposition teams struggling to deal with such a dynamic formation, particularly last season in the Championship. In the Premier League we’ve been almost unique amongst newly-promoted sides that we’ve tried to win every game, even when away from home. I think some teams have been shocked by our cavalier approach when so many unfancied teams turn up with the intention of parking the bus. Holloway has stuck to his guns and his attacking philosophy has reaped the rewards so far.
We’ve had to put up with a lot of speculation regarding Redknapp and England, do you think Holloway could also be in contention?
I doubt Holloway is a realistic contender to be honest. Holloway has little experience working with the very top players, and it would be a big gamble for the FA to take a chance on him. It’s not that I think he’d do a bad job, but for the foreseeable future a job with the national team is unlikely.
As for Redknapp, I think he’d be completely the wrong choice for England. He may be flavour of the month with a lot of the tabloid hacks who seem determined that a “good old English” approach is what’s needed, but I think Redknapp would be horribly exposed at international level. Redknapp has built his career on his ability in the transfer market rather than any particular tactical nous, and I’m not sure he has what it to takes to be a success with England. Then again, who does? For me the FA needs a shake-up from top to bottom before a major trophy can be won.
Do you think you’ll be able to sustain your top flight status come May?
Without wanting to jinx us, I have every faith we can avoid the drop. At the start of the season I thought our home form would be the key to survival, so to be on 22 points having played only six home games so far is a fantastic achievement. Our ability to pick up points on the road will prove invaluable and while our home form has been average so far (2 wins, 2 draws, 2 defeats), I’m confident that with 13 home games to come we can amass enough points to stay up.
I suspect the survival tally will be higher than in recent seasons and could be up around the 40 point, but 5 more wins and the odd draw here and there will take us over that mark. There’s no reason we can’t finish towards mid-table however, and I’d be delighted to see us safe with a few games to spare. A trip to Old Trafford on the last day of the season is not the kind of fixture you want if points are still needed going into the final day.
Who are the Blackpool players we need to keep an eye out for?
Well the only Blackpool player most outsiders seem to know, Charlie Adam, is suspended on Sunday after picking up his fifth booking against Stoke. Of the players available, David Vaughan is having a great season alongside Adam, and any of the strikers (Taylor-Fletcher, Varney and Campbell) are capable of finding the net. The one player due to have a big impact is Elliot Grandin, who we signed from CSKA Sofia in the summer. Grandin operates in almost a free role and while he looks very skilful, he’s yet to contribute a match-winning performance. With Adam out of the team, this could be Grandin’s day to shine.
Who are your favourite Blackpool players, past or present?
My favourite past player is Dave Bamber, who was our main goalscorer when I first started watching ‘Pool. However, somewhat unfortunately, he’s possibly best remembered for his penalty shoot-out miss in the Division Four play-off final against Torquay in 1991 – he hit it miles wide and at one time Torquay even had a fanzine called “Bamber’s Right Foot” in reference to the significance of that miss.
Nowadays I like watching David Vaughan, who has possibly been our best player so far this season. He doesn’t perhaps have the flash of Charlie Adam, but he is just as important and rarely lets the side down. Vaughan does a lot of the tidying up in midfield and allows Adam to flourish. Unfortunately his contract is up at the end of the season so securing an extension has to be a key goal for Holloway in January.
If you could have 1 current spurs player who would it be and why?
Although we don’t really struggle to score goals, I’d probably still go for one of your strikers. We create so many chances however that with an extra cutting edge we would have the potential to be well clear of relegation already. On our limited budget we can’t expect to be able to afford a 20 goal a season striker, and what we do well is spread the goals around the team, but I’d love to have someone like Jermain Defoe leading our attack. (You can have Keane for about £8m if you want)
Prediction for the game on Sunday
Adam is obviously a big loss, but I still feel there should be goals in the side. After all, the last time ‘Pool failed to score in a home league game was back in August ’09. Then again, we’ve not kept a clean sheet at home this season either. I highly doubt it’ll be 0-0, but I’ll predict a score draw, 1-1 or 2-2.
Finally, where’s a good place to go in Blackpool for the travelling yid army?
Blackpool hardly suffers from a lack of drinking venues, and any of the bars on the promenade are typically popular among away fans. Nearer to the ground, the Old Bridge and The Manchester are away fan friendly.
Hopefully the game won’t be called off, especially for those of you making the trip or have already made that trip. I know come Sunday if I had the choice of watching Blackpool v Spurs or Chelsea v United, there’s only one game I’d choose and that’s a credit to both teams. Hopefully they won’t let us down and when I say they, I obviously mean Spurs.
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