Ben Burgess column: Pool have come so far

Ben Burgess
Ben Burgess
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I can’t believe how far Blackpool have come since Ian Holloway took over.

Gone are the days of scraping 1-0 wins and of any victory over ‘big clubs’ being seen as a shock result.

The Seasiders have been so successful in the last few years that fans, players and even the media expect Blackpool to beat the likes of Middlesbrough.

We also quite rightly expect Ollie’s men to finish at least in the play-offs.

When I was at Blackpool, it always used to be great going to 
Birmingham, Southampton and Boro as underdogs, and proving everyone wrong by getting a result.

The lads are playing under the weight of expectancy now, though, and that can be hard but they are certainly responding to the challenge.

From an ex-striker’s perspective, it was a joy to watch Blackpool’s front three of Ince, Taylor-Fletcher and new signing Delfouneso.

Their movement, touch and awareness of those around them was Premier League class.

Delfouneso had a dream debut and linked up fantastically with Ince in particular.

Premier League managers should be lining up to send their young stars to Bloomfield Road because they will learn how to play the game the right way.

I couldn’t help thinking on Tuesday that Chelsea’s young star Josh McEachran, on loan at Boro, would have loved to be in a 
Tangerine shirt instead of on the receiving end of a footballing lesson.

The Seasiders get a lot of joy with their wide players making runs from the wing and inside the full-backs.

Full-backs don’t know whether to track them across the pitch or pass them on to the centre-halves.

More often than not neither happens and a Blackpool player is left one-on-one with the keeper, like Thomas Ince was when he scored on Tuesday.

After talking about dull and boring England last week, wouldn’t it be great if they could take on this expansive way of playing? Ollie for England maybe?

Monday’s game at home to Huddersfield should be great for many reasons.

The return of Simon Grayson, who did a really good job in his first managerial role at Blackpool (I would say that because he signed me!), and most of all the return of a Blackpool legend in the form of Keith Southern.

Keith is still an excellent player. He was always great to have in your team and I enjoyed watching him smash into those 50-50 challenges, except when I was on the receiving end in training. He also had real quality on the ball that sometimes went unnoticed, not to mention popping up with some very important goals.

There will certainly be fireworks in the middle of the pitch on Monday night, but let’s hope Blackpool’s good form continues and they collect another three points.

Pre-match music and the fun boy three

Football changing rooms and the tunnel area can be very interesting places on match days, especially pre-game.

A surprising number of players have silly little rituals to get themselves in the ‘zone’, like putting their left boot on first or running out last.

Some don’t put their shirt on until just before they set foot on the pitch (although that’s just the boys with rippling muscles).

I played best when I was relaxed, which wasn’t often, so I would like to have a laugh and a joke in the changing room before games.

I remember myself, Shaun Barker and Ian Evatt would be tenterhooks waiting for the opposition team to be written on the board.

It wasn’t because we were worried who was playing, but so we could see who came up with the best/worst joke based on an opposing player’s name.

For example, Andrew Whing will like to get down the sides, Craig Short’s not very good in the air, Scott Wiseman is a clever player, Chris Eagles is a flying machine, Jason Shackell will try to get tight to you and Liam Trotter will just stroll around the pitch. We would be in stitches laughing while the other lads looked on confused.

I’m not a big fan of the current trend for headphones in the changing rooms.

We used to enjoy choosing our favourite songs to go on Claus Jorgensen’s iPod.

We would be getting pumped to a bit of 50 Cent and then suddenly Kaspars Gorkss’ Ace of Base song would come on and kill the mood a bit.

Managers tend to introduce new pre-match routines when results are going against them.

When I played in Australia, we had a new manager who was really struggling, so as we warmed up for one game he made us all tell each other how great we felt and how good the team was.

You can imagine how ridiculous we all looked and felt doing that.

I’ll let you know the antics opposition players use in next week’s column.