Ben Burgess column: Reasons to be fearful for rival defences

While a point at home against Carlisle is never something to get too excited about, the late fightback certainly was.

Friday, 23rd September 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:02 pm
Ben Burgess

It at least showed the character in the squad. In all honesty, Blackpool should have been out of sight in the first half, if it wasn’t for some careless finishing, as they carved open the Carlisle defence almost at will.

Armand Gnanduillet and Kyle Vassell look like they will cause every defence problems this season.

Gnanduillet shrugged off the last Carlisle defender on Saturday, like he was an eight year-old kid, on his way to scoring the equaliser.

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Gary Bowyer described the result and performance as ‘Groundhog Day’ and you wouldn’t blame the players for being a bit down about the result as they headed back to training this week.

Fortunately, Bowyer like all decent managers, decided to freshen up training and give the players a different focus. That focus was a day (and a million miles) away from the rather depressing Squires Gate training ground.

The players spent the day at Challenge for Change in Manchester, completing a series of challenges, that tested them both physically and mentally and also how well they could work as a team.

From the videos on the club’s social media account you could see how much the players were enjoying it.

To some people this ‘day out’ may just seem like a bit of a jolly, but this kind of distraction and character building can have a hugely beneficial effect when it comes to results on the pitch.

I’ve taken part in numerous ‘events’ like these, some good and some not so. During my brief loan with Oldham, Ian Dowie would regularly take us somewhere unusual.

Sometimes running around reservoirs, other times it would be go-karting, where I unfortunately resembled Donkey Kong from Mario Kart.

One snowy day he decided to whisk us off into the middle of nowhere for a bit of paintballing.

Sounds fun, but everything that Dowie does is to the max.

And as we split off into teams with our big guns and ammo, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was actual war to the gaffer.

After 30 minutes of me hiding, like Henrikh Mikhitaryan in a Manchester derby, I popped above the parapet and sprinted for the opposition’s flag.

Suddenly, in a blur of ‘pop pop’ and paint flying everywhere, I hit the deck.

Dowie had shot me seven times in the backside in the space of 15 seconds!

I couldn’t sit down properly for a week.

With Martin Allen at Notts County we actually did visit an Army Camp and stayed there for three very long nights.

Every day was early wake up, followed by assault course and then some team building games, which whilst being physically draining was enjoyable as we were all in the same boat and struggling along together.

One night we had to pack our bags for a hike and to stay out in the woods overnight.

We marched for hours and arrived at our ‘home’ for the evening.

The soldiers told us to use some sticks to make a shelter above us and good luck! I still recall listening to Mad Dog drinking beer and chatting all night in his luxurious tent, whilst we were all huddled together trying to keep warm under the stars with just a sleeping bag.

Hopefully the Blackpool players have enjoyed their weeks activities and are raring to go for a huge couple of matches in their season.

First up is third placed Crewe Alexandra away and following that is a midweek home game against high flying Portsmouth, another club who’ve plummeted like the Seasiders.

Gary Bowyer is certainly doing all he can to get his players mentally and physically ready for League 2.

Now it’s up to them to clamber over a few more obstacles.