McDonald: My Blackpool team is growing up

Neil McDonald
Neil McDonald
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Neil McDonald insists his young team is slowly coming of age, despite winning only one of their nine matches so far this season.

The average age of McDonald’s starting 11 which drew with Barnsley on Saturday was just 24, with 35-year-old Emmerson Boyce dragging that figure up.

Many of those players have played just a handful of games at League One level but McDonald feels progress is being made after the improvements of recent weeks.

“They are showing they are growing up a little bit,” the Pool boss said. “The players are more determined now. They don’t like to concede goals.

“After their goal on Saturday we stood up and forced the game on them. We could easily have won the game by the end.”

With five points, Pool are bottom of the table on goal difference but only three points from climbing out of the relegation zone – and just six from the lofty position of 11th.

And with two home games to follow Saturday’s visit to Shrewsbury, McDonald is only too aware of what a couple of decent results could do.

He said: “A couple of wins fire us right up the division – but it’s all if, if, if.

“We are getting there now and I think people can see that we are improving, but we have to start to win games.”

Much was made of Blackpool’s defensive formation in the first half against the Tykes. Trailing at the break, McDonald chose to switch formations and strengthened the side’s attack with two strikers.

McDonald said: “The fans had every right to boo at half-time but they clapped the team off at the end. What we switched to was a diamond formation with two up top.

“I started with the more defensive look as we have been conceding a lot of goals and we have needed to protect the back four.

“It’s the first time in a while we haven’t conceded two goals, which is good.

“If we can be a little more determined and forceful, then we will do well.”

Blackpool are still trying to add players to their squad, despite another week of knockbacks.

Former Derby defender Zak Whitbread rejected an offer from the Seasiders, while talks which could have seen Adam Hammill join in training came to nothing.

McDonald said of his search: “Every team is trying to add and we’ll keep looking, asking and searching. If we can bring anyone in, then we will.”