Premier League viewers around the world bid farewell to Blackpool Football Club on May 22. The Tangerines set out to Old Trafford on “Mission Impossible,” as Ian Holloway’s men needed a win to escape the drop. Like only Blackpool could, Charlie Adam’s luscious free kick into the bottom right corner and Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s goal, the Seasiders silenced the Theatre of Dreams. However, Blackpool’s defense could not withstand Manchester United, and results elsewhere relegated the Tangerines.
The first time I saw Blackpool was the Championship Playoff Final when Adam, Taylor-Fletcher, and Ormerod spearheaded a lethal attacking style of football. Despite being weak at the back, as Cardiff City scored twice, as a neutral, Blackpool seemed to be a fearless side that would set the Premier League ablaze.
Just two months after their relegation, I already miss Blackpool and have listed below my top reasons why the EPL needs a team like Blackpool every season.
A Fearless Side at the Bottom:
After a week in the Premier League the Seasiders were near the top of the table, but their goal difference took a bit of hit the next, as Arsenal thrashed Holloway’s side 6-0 at the Emirates. While most middle and bottom of the table squads would have bulked up the midfield to halt the slick passing of the Gunners, Blackpool refused to change their formation and tactics. Charlie Adam linked up with Harewood and Fletcher in early moments, but Arsenal was just too good. Despite the loss, credit is due to Blackpool who came out and played to win. The Tangerines’ consistency paid off against top sides, as they did the double over Liverpool and beat Tottenham. The Premier League needs a team that gives the neutral somebody to watch for fun besides those in the Big Four.
Wouldn’t you rather see a team like Blackpool challenge Chelsea than see Stoke City sit back and defend?
An Entertaining Manager:
It is not very often we hear of a manager comparing a scrappy win to a night out on the town, but when we do, we don’t complain. The famous rants of Ian Holloway against FIFA, the Premier League, and clubs bidding for Charlie Adam were one of a kind and memorable. His confidence to show up at Stamford Bridge and the Emirates and play a 4-3-3 as a weaker team, is a rarity in a league based around staying up by playing it safe. While I’m not asking for another Jose Mourinho, who blames his problems on UNICEF and FIFA, it would be nice to get a little excitement from those dreary press conferences. Blackpool was and still is a side with character and it is that character and extra excitement that is needed in the lower half of the Premier League. Mick McCarthy is a manager that is about as dry as they come.
A relegated side rarely produces or carries a figure that generates interest from the top clubs, as Liverpool and Manchester United were not battling it out over players from the likes of Derby County or Reading. The Seasiders gave us some stars to watch, most notably Charlie Adam. The midfielder’s perfect passes to the flanks and pinpoint set pieces were mouthwatering for the neutral. Hopefully, we will see him do the same at Anfield for years to come. Another star to watch was D.J. Campbell, whose speedy runs brought Blackpool 13 goals in 31 appearances. Gary Taylor-Fletcher was a great story during the early part of the season, as he became the first player to score in each of the top six divisions of English football. If a team at the bottom could produce stars each season, the league would become much more competitive during the season, and more suspenseful during the transfer windows.
Finally, it is Blackpool’s story that makes them loveable. A recent report reveals that over 9,000 of Blackpool’s children are in poverty. The city was something the team played for all season and we saw how strong the relationship between the team and the supporters was in the many thrilling games at Bloomfield Road. I’m not sure if we will ever see another team like Blackpool, but we can hope that Norwich, Swansea, or QPR will pick up where Blackpool left off (without being relegated).