|will Christmas come early?|
Written by basilrobbiereborn on Friday, 7th Nov 2014 17:25
It's been a strange couple of weeks, if you are a Blackpool fan. Firstly, we got the much anticipated but equally much delayed departure of Jose Riga ; the uncharacteristically swift appointment of a replacement ; and then two games that could hardly have contrasted more had they tried.
Lee Clark's first experience of his new squad in action must have been a chastening one, to say the least. The home defeat to Ipswich was one of the most abject in recent times, not just because of the result, but more the inept, clumsy way that we stumbled to it.
His response has been commendably swift, with new blood brought in immediately. One of the new players, Jacob Murphy, made a very good start to his Blackpool career in the 2-2 draw with Fulham, scoring a well-worked goal and generally impressing with his pace and his ability to link with Ishmael Miller. It will be good to see more of that. Whist losing two points was disappointing, most of the sizeable Seaside contingent will have left Craven Cottage thinking that this was much more like us, and more of what we have grown to expect over the last eight years or so.
Two thoughts spring from all this. The fixture list between now and Christmas gives us a realistic chance to make inroads on the gap to safety, if we see more performances like we did on Bonfire Night. Bournemouth will be a very tough nut to crack, but games with Leeds, Bolton, Rotherham (twice), Birmingham, Charlton and an out of form Sheffield Wednesday do look a lot easier than they might have been.
Obviously some stiffer looking tests await after Christmas, but for now the job we face is to instil some self-belief into the players and the place as a whole. It is not as if we haven't managed to do this before - many of our fans will remember the 1992/93 season, the first back in the third tier under Billy Ayre. Then, a mid-December defeat at Wigan left us on eleven points, and eleven from safety. After a couple of scratchy home draws, we went to Sealand Road and claimed our first away win in nearly a year. The rest is history, as we played like play-off contenders to climb away from danger. It was almost as though confidence and belief had been turned on like a tap.
My second thought is that beyond these next few games, January is always a big month for most clubs, and will be a better chance for Clark to change what he has inherited. I was not in the least surprised to see that he was able to bring in new players where his predecessor seemingly could not. To me, it was partly about Clark's proactivity, but also the chairman's willingness to back him and his judgement.
Riga still retains a groundswell of popularity with some of our support, but the stark fact is that he did not enjoy the confidence of the chairman and was thus unlikely to ever change things markedly for the better. Why this was so has been done to death many times, and there are a lot of unanswered questions for both the Riga camp and Karl Oyston - questions that may never be satisfactorily answered. I wanted Riga to have a reasonable chance, but to my mind he did little to help his own cause in the last few weeks.
I don't think pining after him like love-sick teenagers does our support any credit either. He's gone now, and what should really matter to us all is that the club moves forward. That does of course require a lot more evidence of learning from his mistakes, and a bit of overdue humility from the chairman, although I must say like most I hope for that rather than expecting it.
It also means that we need to back the new man, and remember that the real enemies of the club lie outside the gates. It would be good to reel a few of them in over the next few games, and put some of them under real pressure. Fighting amongst ourselves is merely a distraction from this essential business, and I hope to see us doing far less of it from mow on.
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Blogs by basilrobbiereborn
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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Gills 5/11/94 by wessex_exile
Interesting that on the eve of our Mickey Mouse game against Ipswich, the match selected is from 1994, when we were managed by George Burley. We know a song about him…
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Well, after a tremendously exciting week for U’s fans everywhere, what better way to calm things down than remembering the daily grind of league football.
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Doncaster 8/1/93 by wessex_exile
With school half-term upon me, and with much to do before leaving early for Crawley on Tuesday night, I’m going to have to post this one a bit early I’m afraid.
Matches of Yesteryear - Bees v U's 31/12/05 by wessex_exile
Well here’s a first, the random match selector has chosen the very next match I was at following Shrewsbury in the FA Cup back in December 2005 – spooky.