OPINION: Blackpool’s forgettable first month of the year?

This time next week marks the final day of this month’s transfer window. Hallelujah!

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 4:00 pm
Grant Ward is one of several new signings made by Simon Grayson in recent weeks
Grant Ward is one of several new signings made by Simon Grayson in recent weeks

January began with plenty of optimism, the Seasiders remaining just two points adrift of the play-off spots despite their Christmas slump.

It was hoped the new arrivals would provide that injection of quality to propel Simon Grayson’s men back up the table.

But, as yet, the majority of the club’s new signings have yet to properly feature.

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The team, meanwhile, continues to struggle and now find themselves even further down the table.

The recent acquisitions will need time to bed in but, given Blackpool’s eight-game winless run, they might not be afforded that opportunity.

Now is the time to throw in the likes of Jordan Thorniley, Connor Ronan, Grant Ward and Gary Madine and see what they’re capable of.

At the time of writing this column, Pool remain in limbo in regards to this weekend’s fixture with struggling Tranmere Rovers due to be the visitors to Bloomfield Road.

However, Micky Mellon’s side have an FA Cup third round replay against Watford to negotiate first and, should they emerge victorious, that will see the postponement of Saturday’s encounter.

That’s the last thing that Pool need given their recent dip.

Taking on a side that sit third from bottom in League One, having won just five games all season, is surely the ideal fixture to get back to winning ways – especially when Tranmere will barely have any time to rest in between games.

Should the game go ahead this weekend and should Blackpool fail to win, the pressure on Grayson will only intensify.

The Seasiders, without a win in 2020, have scored just five goals in their last eight games – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out where the team is currently lacking.

I’ve seen some suggesting Grayson has already lost the dressing room and the players aren’t playing for him. I really don’t think that’s the case.

If it was, Blackpool wouldn’t be getting beaten by narrow scorelines, they would be on the wrong end of three or four-goal defeats.

Bizarrely, the Seasiders haven’t necessarily been playing poorly during their eight-game winless streak.

They’ve been average, satisfactory, okay; however you want to describe it. Not good enough by any stretch of the imagination, but not an abomination either.

That’s clutching at straws, I admit, as satisfactory performances won’t get the club to where they want to be – in and around the top six.

My concern is the lack of adventure. When Pool play with a four at the back, how often do we see the full-backs bomb on from defence?

In other sides up and down the country, full-backs are becoming a vital component of how sides create chances and attack. But that’s not been the case at Bloomfield Road.

Elsewhere, it’s all too predictable. Blackpool work it through the midfield and wide to Liam Feeney, who has now been identified by opposing teams as Pool’s main creative threat given his undoubted crossing ability.

But Feeney, for all his strengths, is not the sort of winger who’s likely to beat his marker over and over again with a boost of pace or a piece of skill.

Instead, he turns back, passes the ball to the full-back – usually Ollie Turton – and the Seasiders then play the ball back across the midfield over and over again ad nauseam. It’s far too easy to defend against.

Blackpool fans want to see their side play with style and panache and, if they find themselves on the wrong end of a 3-2, so be it. The Ian Holloway way, basically.

In other news this week, an inexperienced Pool side were comfortably overpowered by a strong Carlisle United side in Tuesday’s reserve outing.

With a free week between games, you would have imagined this would have been a useful opportunity to give some players on the periphery of Blackpool’s first-team the chance to get some minutes.

The likes of Calum Macdonald, Sean Scannell and Joe Nuttall are in need of game time while recent new arrivals like Ronan and Thorniley could have used the game as a chance to get up to speed.

Instead, it transpired to be a fairly actionless affair, the Cumbrians easing to a routine victory without breaking too much of a sweat.

Are the club making the most of their Central League games? The jury is out on that one at the moment.