“Blackpool’s fans have made me stronger,” says Riga

Jose Riga
Jose Riga
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Blackpool manager Jose Riga insists the fans’ support has made him stronger as he faces a hero’s welcome at Bloomfield Road this afternoon.

The Belgian takes charge of today’s home clash with Wolves against all the odds after a week of turmoil at the club, during which chairman Karl Oyston offered Riga’s job to Burton boss Gary Rowett, having previously held talks with Owen Coyle.

Pool’s fans have taken the manager’s side throughout and Riga, who hasn’t spoken with his chairman in almost a fortnight, told The Gazette that their backing has helped him get through the tough spell.

The Pool boss said: “I am happy with the support I’ve had and it’s made me stronger. I’m sure the team feel the same way.”

However, the 57-year-old insists he is unsure what sort of reception awaits him shortly before 3pm.

“I really don’t know what reaction I’ll get from the fans at the game,” added Riga, speaking for the first time since Pool’s last game at Millwall two weeks ago.

“What I do know about the fans is that I have a great feeling about them.

“Even before I came I got a good feeling from them and that was a big part of my decision to come here. I know what I want to give to the fans.

“They know we are all giving our very best, the staff and the players. I don’t make publicity for myself. I think the fans can see the behaviour of a manager who is working so hard to find solutions for them.

“The fans have reacted like they have towards me because they want the same as I do. We are working together for the club.”

Reporters invited to yesterday’s eagerly-anticipated press conference were told that Riga would not take any questions on off-field issues or his problems with Oyston.

However, he did make one comment in response to Oyston’s claim in Tuesday’s Gazette that he had acted unprofessionally by spending the first week of the international break back home in Belgium.

That clearly irritated the manager, who said: “In all my life, and 25 years in professional football, nobody has ever made any remarks about my professionalism. That says a lot.”