OPINION: Neil McDonald had to go, there was no other option

For Neil McDonald, there simply was no other option.

Thursday, 19th May 2016, 10:59 am
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2016, 12:02 pm
Neil McDonald insisted he was let down by his players

After a season of drama, turmoil, stress and ultimately relegation from a very poor division, the 50-year-old simply couldn’t stay at Bloomfield Road.

But it wasn’t the off-the-field drama, the fans or even his problems with the media which proved to be the final nail in his coffin, it was his tactics and his players.

Blackpool didn’t deserve it, but they went into the final two games of the season with the most unlikely of lifelines, Fleetwood’s failure to kill-off the situation meant two wins would have kept them up.

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They lost 4-0 and 5-1.

McDonald’s players didn’t even put up a fight for him, they crumbled and totally gave up - even McDonald admitted they’d embarrassed him.

And it’s that which will hurt him the most as the dust settles on a twelve months he’ll hope to quickly forget.

McDonald will be fine in football and will quickly be employed, he’s got a good enough reputation and has enough friends in the game, he’ll soon be back involved.

And it’s that which makes his decision to come to Bloomfield Road, and then stay when Sunderland came calling at the end of last year, even more baffling.

After Sunday’s collapse against Peterborough he admitted Lee Clark was right after all, managing Blackpool at the moment is the impossible job.

So it really makes you wonder why a guy who’d spend 30 years in football ever thought taking on the Pool job was a good idea - finishing mid table would have warranted an open top bus tour.

There’s no doubt at all he was dealt a shocking hand by the club and chairman Karl Oyston, and many of the problems he faced were totally beyond his control.

But what’s also clear is just how many poor decisions he made under the pressure.

He spent around £700,000 on forwards players who simply didn’t deliver, not many in League One can say they had that sort of spending power.

And it was the lack of goals which got the Seasiders relegated, Pool failed to score in HALF of their games under McDonald, and ten of their last 16 games.

While the quality of the squad clearly played a part, so did the tactics, they were dire.

Far too often McDonald set out his team not to get beat, rather than win. The way they settled for a draw in the latter stages of a must-win game at Fleetwood was almost disgraceful.

Previous managers who have tried to take on the impossible job have left with some sort of sympathy and understanding from the Blackpool supporters, sadly McDonald leaves largely unpopular.

While results didn’t help, his handling of public relations without doubt cost him the support of the public.

Before this starts to sound like a hammering, I must say I’m sure McDonald is a thoroughly decent bloke. His popularity in the game certainly suggests that. But he got his tactics in the press wrong from day one.

Instead of being a little more honest and open, McDonald clearly set out with a tactic not to get involved in any of the off-the-field debate.

That’s all well and good, but the general public aren’t stupid, and McDonald’s constant backing of the chairman, along with his ultra positive match evaluations made him unpopular with fans.

It’s a difficult one to judge, you can’t use the Jose Riga tactic of being open about everything (he famously once admitted his squad would get relegated when asked in September!) but you have to be a little more realistic.

After poor displays he’d brand his side unlucky, after tight wins he’s claim they were outstanding.

McDonald also got way too involved in the fall-out between The Gazette and Karl Oyston, he didn’t need to carry out Oyston’s instructions not to talk to me or The Gazette so literally.

From day one he ‘did as he was told’ in terms of blanking his most influential media outlet, and it didn’t help him.

Overall the decision for McDonald to leave was the right one, and I for one wish him well in the future.

He wasn’t a bad guy and he’s quite clearly a well respected and talented football coach. But at Blackpool? It just never worked.