The fairytale of Blackpool FC

Blackpool Football club. When you hear this name, you suddenly remember the great names associated with this club. Stan Mortensen, Stanley Matthews, the Wizard of Dribble (inaugral winner of both the European Footballer of the Year and the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year awards) and Alan Ball (1966 World Cup winner with England) . They were one of the best players of their eras. But Blackpool cannot boast such stars now. Charlie Adam, Marlon Harewood, Luke Varney is all they’re about these days.

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FA Cup winning team in 1953 inspired by Stanley Matthews

They have a very limited budget. A Messi or Ronaldo would cost more than their whole club. Their highest earner is Marlon Harewood at £10,000 per week. But the real story is their rise from the second tier of England to the top flight. Winning the £90m Championship play off-final has brought them back to the top flight, something they hadn’t done since 1971. Managed by an audacious manager in Ian Holloway, they have impressed everyone with the style of football they play. According to West Brom manager Roberto di Matteo, they are the most attractive team in England after Arsenal and Chelsea. And few would disagree. Lead by influential captain Charlie Adam, who scored a great goal in the Championship play-off final against Cardiff, they have added romance to the Premier League. They play at a high tempo with attractive passing. A style similar to Arsenal’s.

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They play a fearless game with a 4-3-3 formation. And from what they have shown so far, I don’t think many people will count them favourites for relegation. They’ve had their ups and downs though. Arsenal and Chelsea taught them a footballing lesson and showed them that at times you need to give respect to the bigger teams. But Holloway won’t change his philosophy. With the same tactics, they managed to beat Wigan 4-0 on the opening day of the season. Beat Newcastle 2-0 at St.James’ Park. But the biggest shock was their win at the most illustrious arena of football in England,  Anfield. They beat Liverpool 2-1 to add to Hodgson’s worries.

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Ian Holloway is a big Arsene Wenger fan and claims he is taking tips from Arsene Wenger on how to stay calm as Blackpool live the dream of playing in the Premier League.Holloway wants to make Blackpool an attractive footballing side and feels he could learn so much from Wenger.
“I’ve asked to go down and watch what they do in training later in the season and I know Steve Rowley, their chief scout, really, really well,” said Holloway. “I want to see what Asrene does because managers like him are fantastic.
“Arsene is outstanding. He’s one of the best in the world in taking a young man and turning him into a brilliant player worth millions.
“The bloke is a genius. His players all know their jobs and he has moulded that club the way he wants it. He’s even got his name in their name – Arsene, Arsenal – and maybe I should change my name to Black or something.
‘What I admire most about him is that whatever the age of the team he puts out — from kids up to seniors – they all play the same way and all know their own jobs.
‘He teaches them that. He always says, “Give me an athlete and I’ll give you a footballer”. What a fantastic thing to be able to say, especially as it’s no idle boast. It’s exactly what he does.’

I can’t help but like Ian Holloway. He’s proven to be a quality manager at Blackpool, and he’s one of the few people in the game who tells it as it is. I don’t think I’ve ever respected and liked a manager as much as I have him or perhaps David Moyes.Hats off to the man.

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Blackpool is an example for teams like Stoke,Blackburn, Hull City and all those who play the game like they’re playing rugby. Playing long ball is an easy way to play football but keeping the ball on the ground and playing with passing,slick movement and flair is what teams find difficult to replicate. They have shown the world that even with limited resources, you can have a decent team and mould them into a footballing side. They play with the principles of football and offer entertainment to everyone. They are a breath of fresh air in English football. If German legend Franz Beckenbauer would see Blackpool play, he wouldn’t say England has gone back to the days of kick and rush. By playing this way, they might even get relegated but atleast they are enjoying the experience they’ve got. They are unlike other footballers who are pampered. When Marlon Harewood first went into the dressing room, he recalls one of the players said,
“Did they mention anything about washing your kit?”. “Oh yeah, and boots as well. You don’t get any of the kids doing it for you here. You take them home and give them a good clean yourself”. I wonder whether any other Premier League club can boast such down to earth environment in their camp. It remains to be seen whether Blackpool can stay in the Premier League. They have a very short squad but what they have in abundance is team spirit,a never say die attitude and the desire in every player to play not for himself but his team and team mates. City couldn’t take the 4th spot with Sheikh Mansoor’s millions last season but I believe Blackpool can stay up with just £10m of his money.


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