Will Watt: 2015 a terrible year, have Pool learned their lesson?

Blackpool's Neil McDonald
Blackpool's Neil McDonald
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Exactly a year ago I wrote a column about the disaster that was 2014, and how there was no way things could get worse in the coming year.

How wrong was I? When they sit down to write about the history of Blackpool Football Club in years to come, there’s no doubt the year 2015 will be right up there as one of the worst ever... and with good reason.

It was the year Blackpool were relegated from the Championship with a record low points total, a year many of the supporters turned their back on the club, a year two games were abandoned due to pitch invasions, supporters were sued and a manager quit.

All that without mentioning the words Nile Ranger.

Basically, Blackpool drifted away from being a football club and turned into a comedy show. It was desperately sad to watch.

On the field was just as bad. In fact, the Seasiders were the second-worst performing team in the whole of the Football League in 2015.

Pool earned an average of just 0.82 points a game. Only Yeovil had a worse statistic than that

The Seasiders lost 26 of their 45 games, winning just nine. Sadly, I was at every single one of them.

In the middle of the year, Neil McDonald arrived to attempt to bring calm and organisation to the madness, and in that respect he’s done well.

The current boss has done a good job of distancing himself from the problems, not getting involved and well and truly keeping his players away from the troubles.

His side has also competed. They’ve already earned as many points in the first half of this season as Pool did in the whole of last, although I’m not sure that’s saying much!

But where exactly is Blackpool Football Club as we turn into 2016? Has much really changed?

Well, in terms of the hard facts it certainly doesn’t appear so.

As we stand, Blackpool are two points from the League One relegation zone, having stuttered along. The manager has struggled desperately with recruitment and actual attendances are at their lowest for a decade.

There are also the issues with the current squad – four of Monday’s starting 11 at Barnsley are on loan and are due to leave the club following tomorrow’s game at Burton.

So despite the claims the club have learned their lessons and changed – have they really?

So how do they get out of this? Well, the coming year will be all about steadying the ship.

The key and vital point for Blackpool this season is that they don’t get relegated. That would be a total disaster.

McDonald has to keep this squad in League One and bring a little calm back to the club.

If he does that, recruitment will be much easier and maybe he can at least start to build bridges on the field.

Personally, having seen every game McDonald’s side has played, I think he will keep them up – but it will go to the wire.

Off the field, major work is still to be done.

The club has made no genuine attempts as yet to rebuild a relationship with the club’s fans, something which will never happen as long as legal action against supporters continues.

All that needs to end as quickly as possible, and the Oystons need to show a genuine commitment to improving the club and working with its supporters. I say that, of course, assuming they aren’t willing to sell.

Karl Oyston needs to lose the attack mentality he has adopted over the last few years. He is no longer the chairman of a powerful, popular Premier League club.

Blackpool are back to being a lower league club with pretty poor attendances. The chairman needs the people’s support and should be talking to them, engaging with them and listening.

The Fans Progress Group has been given all sorts of stick in recent months but the idea in principle is a good one.

As I’ve said before, had it consisted of fans representing BST, BSA and other supporters’ groups, it would have been an ideal way of attempting to move forward.

The people who are on the panel are simply Blackpool fans who want the best for their club. They should be left out of the mud-slinging and name-calling – they are simply trying to do their bit.

One of the most worrying revelations to come out of their meeting with Karl Oyston was that if season ticket sales drop next season (which they will), then the playing budget will too.

Basically, it appears that Blackpool are going back to being a bottom-half League One club.

It’s as if the Premier League never happened – at least we have the memories.