Jimmy: It’s a tough task to bounce back

Manchester United v Blackpool, at Old Trafford.'DJ Campbell is upended by Vidic. PIC BY ROB LOCK'22-5-2011
Manchester United v Blackpool, at Old Trafford.'DJ Campbell is upended by Vidic. PIC BY ROB LOCK'22-5-2011
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JIMMY Armfield believes Pool have enough young talent in their squad to have a crack at bouncing straight back to the Premier League ... but he warns it won’t be easy.

The Blackpool legend was at Old Trafford for yesterday’s Manchester United game in his role as a summariser for BBC Radio 5Live.

Armfield was down at the end that his beloved Seasiders had lost their Premier League status.

But he sees reasons to be optimistic next season.

“We’ve got one or two good young players,” Armfield said.

“When Matt Phillips came on near the end, he looked like he had a bit of spark in him and it is things like that you have to look for.

“I think the team has done itself proud throughout the season. I don’t think there has been any time during the season when they haven’t.

“There were just a couple of little lulls, when we played Wigan at home and Sunderland, and we lost points. Wolves away was another example.

“If we’d done better in those type of games we wouldn’t have had to go to the last day.

“It is always disappointing when you go down and the way we have gone down.

“When you think that we’ve scored 55 goals. Not many teams have gone down from the Premier League after scoring 55 goals in a season.

“We could have had another four yesterday, easily.

“Brett Ormerod could have scored in the last minute, Keith Southern in the first minute. We are creating the chances.

“Obviously we’ve got to do something about the defence and tighten it up a little bit.”

Armfield is a realist, though, who has been in a football a long time.

And although he thinks Pool can make a good fist of trying to win promotion next year, he outlines why fans shouldn’t be too expectant.

“I think the biggest worry Ian Holloway and the club would have is the players who are out of contract now.

That is the biggest problem that they’ve got to sort out,” he said.

“People might think they can come straight back up and I hope that they do, but it doesn’t work as easily as that.

“If you look at teams like Burnley, Middlesbrough, Portsmouth – teams who have been in the top league in recent times – they haven’t found it easy to come back.

“Sometimes your best players go and I think one or two Premier League clubs might fancy a few of our players, at least two I would have thought.

“So if two leave, they have to be filled and filling them is not easy.

“Then, of course, other people like Jason Puncheon and Luke Varney, the loan players will go back, so they need to be replaced as well. It will be tough.”

It is 40 years to the month since the Seasiders last faced Manchester United in the top flight.

Back in 1971, it was Armfield’s final game for the Tangerines.

Asked if yesterday’s fixture brought back memories, the Pool great replied: “It didn’t bring back any memories of the game I played in on the final day 40 years ago. I was only thinking of now.

“And when it was 2-1 I actually thought we could do it.

“I forgot to put my watch on and at 2-1 I looked for my watch to see how long there was to hold on, and it wasn’t there so I didn’t know!

“But it didn’t quite work for us. Manchester United are difficult to beat on their own pitch.

“Since the turn of the year, I’ve seen them seven times and they have always looked good enough to beat the opposition.

“For an hour on the day anything could have happened.

“Unfortunately for the club and all its fans, we couldn’t quite do it.”