Category: Gary Bowyer

Can Blackpool make a play-off push?

Where there is a long-running dispute between a club’s ownership and its fans on-field, success is normally hard to come by. As with any organisation, sporting or otherwise, a breakdown in this relationship (for companies swap fans for shareholders) makes for a messy situation, not the bedrock for a rosy future.

Unfortunately, there are many examples of this in football right now as Hull City know only too well. Their team are stuck at the wrong end of the Premier League table and have recently dispensed with the services of a good football man in Mike Phelan.

Allam Out

Photo by dom fellowes

In the Championship, unrest between the board and the fans has been rumbling for years at clubs such as Coventry City and Nottingham Forest, while in League Two the Tangerine Dream has turned into a nightmare for Blackpool F.C.

While Hull City fans won’t rest until they get shot of Assem Allam, Blackpool chairman, Karl Oyston, has been the target of abuse following the club’s fall from grace after demotion from the Premier League a few short years ago.

The supporters have stayed away in droves – a club record lowest-ever attendance of just 766 fans turned up to see their side bow out of the Checkatrade Trophy against Wycombe the other night – and playing at home has become a handicap not a help.

A run of three home games in the space of just eight days clearly places pressure on the purse strings of fans; however, the mistrust and antipathy towards Oyston and his cohorts is the biggest factor behind so many stayaways.

Stuck in mid-table and without a win since they beat Hartlepool, a run stretching to five matches, Blackpool need all the encouragement they can get if they are to somehow turn the situation around and make a late push for the play-offs.

That said, Gary Bowyer’s side are only five points off the play-off zone in League Two and have a game in hand on seventh-placed Colchester. Also, their goal difference of +11 is better than those teams immediately above them.

After Tuesday’s F.A. Cup 3rd round replay, Blackpool take on Yeovil at home and then follow in the footsteps of Liverpool and make the long trek down to Plymouth, a game likely to be hotly contested by tipsters such as SBAT. Argyle sit second in the league and have their tails up after holding Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Anfield in the cup, so getting anything there might be a tough ask, which makes bagging all three points against Yeovil, who are four places and four points below them in the table, all the more vital.

Win that game and the next two at home, against Colchester and Crawley, and Blackpool fans might start believing that bad things can sometimes turn to good. First, they’ll have to mend their goal-shy ways, a problem that has bedevilled quite a few managers who’ve passed through the Bloomfield Road revolving door in recent years.

Only once have Blackpool scored more than one goal in a game (2-0 away to Luton) in the last 10 games, in league and cup, producing a paltry return of six goals. With that sort of fare on offer, no wonder the fans are reluctant to turn up. After all, there is plenty more excitement to be had elsewhere in Blackpool, where the phrase ‘being taken for a ride’ has a much more positive connotation.

Can Bowyer Lead Blackpool Back to League One?

Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, Lancashire.

“Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, Lancashire.” (CC BY 2.0) by Matthew Wilkinson

Blackpool are on the right course to regain their place back in the third tier of English football, despite their off-the-field problems. Supporters are still demanding the removal of chairman Karl Oyston due to his perceived mismanagement of the club following their fall from grace over the past five years, including back-to-back relegations into League Two.

Player sales and poor managerial appointments started the slide, but the club appear to at least be on their way to solving their problems under the tenure of Gary Bowyer, who has begun to steady the ship. The Tangerines have been solid in their campaign thus far, but a strong run in the second half of the season could see them challenge for a place in the playoffs.

Bowyer’s men are currently five points off the pace of seventh-place Barnet, although they do have a game in hand on some of their rivals battling for the four spots. As a result, Blackpool are backed in the latest football betting odds at 9/2 to earn promotion back to League One.

The Tangerines have been one of the most inconsistent sides in the division this term, although they have managed to stave off poor runs of form that can often run sides down the table – as fans are well aware of given their struggles in recent seasons.

Bowyer has managed to establish some semblance of a solid outfit and since the beginning of November, the club have enjoyed more wins than losses or draws, suggesting that the manager might well have cracked on to a successful formula.

Defensively Blackpool have been strong at the back throughout the campaign, conceding just 25 goals in their 24 matches. Clark Robertson, Kelvin Mellor, Tom Aldred and Andy Taylor have formed a resilient unit, which has kept seven clean sheets in League Two and notched another in an impressive display in their FA Cup tie against Championship outfit Barnsley.

Should they raise the level of their performance towards the end of the season they can be the foundation on which the Tangerines can launch a push for the playoffs.

Bloomfield Road, Blackpool

“Bloomfield Road, Blackpool” (CC BY 2.0) by yellow book

At the other end of the pitch, Bowyer’s side are in the middle of the pack with 36 strikes to their name this term. Kyle Vassell has led the way with nine strikes, but the club must find a way to alleviate the pressure on him. The 23-year-old has failed to find the net in his last six contests, including the Tangerines’ 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mansfield at Bloomfield Road.

Jamille Matt and Armand Gnanduillet will need to rise to the occasion as they have scored just five goals between them, although Brad Potts has displayed a propensity to push forward from midfield to chip in with six strikes. Blackpool will need a surge of goals in the second half of the season and Bowyer will have to ensure that the burden does not all fall on Vassell.

After years of disappointment, the shoots of recovery might now be in progress on the pitch at least. However, Bowyer and his men must maintain the standards they’ve set in the first half of the season and improve in all areas to drive back into the third tier.