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.
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.