BLACKPOOL were big favourites in today’s eagerly-awaited FA Cup showdown with Fleetwood – and Ian Holloway hates it.
The Seasiders boss thinks his team are much better when they are the underdogs, and have a point to prove.
And it was why he was nervous about today’s fixture.
In what is the biggest match between the Fylde coast clubs for 31 years, a capacity crowd of 5,094 will pack into Highbury Avenue to see Blue Square Premier Fleetwood take on neighbours Blackpool, flying high in the Championship.
Holloway’s men are expected to win the third-round clash, but that worries the boss.
“I don’t like being the favourite at all. I’m not sure that suits us as a team. We are much better when we are underdogs,” Holloway said.
“Our results against teams we’re supposed to beat hasn’t been great. We are the serial underdog at Blackpool, and we always raise our game against the best.
“I want eventually to be expected to win every game at Blackpool. I want us to be that good – but we are nowhere near that yet, and I’d rather be David trying to beat Goliath than the other way around.
“Anyone expecting us to win today is mad. Fleetwood are a very good team, the set up there is brilliant, and they represent a really difficult test for us.
“I will pick a team that I think can win.
“If I’m wrong on that, then well done to Fleetwood, because they must have played above their normal level, which is three divisions lower than us.
“Anything can happen in football, so who knows, who’ll be the happier come 5pm?
“The FA Cup is all about shocks and rising to the occasion.
“It will be a terrific occasion and superb for the area, and I just hope everyone watching throughout the Fylde really enjoys it, whatever the result.”
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One man who would have loved the hurly-burly of a local Cup derby is Keith Southern.
And there is good news on the midfielder - Holloway is expecting him back on the pitch before too long.
Southern has been told to go on holiday with his wife and family as he continues to overcome surgery to remove a tumour.
He hasn’t played since November, when he was diagnosed with a tumour in his testicle.
He underwent surgery, which has been successful, and in recent weeks has been at Blackpool’s training ground and taken part in running sessions.
Holloway said: “He has gone for a week away with his family. It might take a week after that, it might be a month - it will take as long as it needs to take.
“We have to be happy with it and so does he.
“He has to have tests and checks to make sure what he had hasn’t spread. But all the news is good and he is on the mend.
“He produced a good time in the training runs that we do to check our lads fitness and I don’t think he’ll be that long out, thank goodness.”
Southern, 30, is the Seasiders longest serving player, joining from Everton in August 2002.
*BRETT ORMEROD was looking forward to getting back on a football pitch as he prepared to make his Rochdale debut at Hartlepool today.
The 35-year-old has joined the League One club on a month’s loan after being out of the Seasiders’ team since defeat at Burnley in October.
“Blackpool don’t have a reserve team and I hadn’t been making the bench lately, so I was keen to get out on loan and get some games under my belt,” Ormerod said.
“A few clubs sounded their interest but Rochdale were the first to come in with a firm offer so I gave them my word I’d sign for them.
“I’m looking to come in and do well (and) help lift them away from the bottom of the table.
“If I can come in and score a few goals then it may get me back into the reckoning at Blackpool, but I’m keeping an open mind and wouldn’t rule anything out.”
Dale’s caretaker boss is Chris Beech, who began his playing career with Blackpool,