Ben Burgess column: Big questions for Pool already

Mark Cullen has made a decent start for Blackpool
Mark Cullen has made a decent start for Blackpool
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Football is back! The summer has felt longer than a Jose Mourinho excuse, especially when there’s no World Cup or European Championships to watch.

Last weekend, we all got a first chance to see how well the clubs have invested their varying budgets.

Will Raheem Sterling prove a snip at £49million? Should Chelsea have sold Petr Cech to their London rivals? Are Arsenal full of selfie-loving players with no heart? Will Blackpool have enough players available to fill their subs’ bench?

I did actually spot a strange coincidence concerning Blackpool on the opening day...

Chelsea lost their number one keeper in the second half.

Chelsea get pegged back twice to draw 2-2

Chelsea will probably still win the league.

Blackpool lost their number one keeper in the second half.

Blackpool got pegged back twice to draw 2-2

Blackpool will probably.....

That’s the big question. What will this new Blackpool team and manager achieve this season? What should they achieve? What would be a good season? All questions that provoke a polarised response from fans and media a like.

How do you write about Blackpool without annoying someone! Is a draw away from home against a team that beat relegation to League Two on the last day of last season a positive, or is it a sign of the monstrous and hideous decline the Seasiders’ faithful have endured in the last three years?

No wins away from home in a year; a completely new team and manager – under those circumstances, a draw is positive.

But beating Wigan 4-0 away from home to go top of the Premier League a few years ago makes this result look as pathetic as an Ashley Young dive.

Let’s try not to look back on the wasted momentum and millions of pounds, and instead look to the future.

We have a young, hungry striker in Mark Cullen who – fingers crossed – is someone who can score on a regular basis after his two-goal blast at Layer Road!

Mark reminds me of myself when I was at Hull City as a 21-year-old, which coincidentally is where Mark served his apprentiship.

Blackpool have lacked a true goalscorer in the last few seasons – a player the team and fans can rely on, someone who can carry the team when everyone else is struggling.

Just cast your mind back to our last season in League One (2006-07), when we had Andy Morrell and Keigan Parker scoring 20 goals each, and Scott Vernon and I weighing in with a few as well.

To achieve anything this season the Seasiders will need Cullen to continue, and we have to hope that his new partner Jack Redshaw can make the step up to League One as well as Cullen has so far.

Although caution must be expressed at this point, as I remember waxing lyrical about another ‘big’ pool signing scoring on his debut on the opening day of the season away from home.

I was on the radio at the time and I pointed out how important it was for striker at a new club to score early on in the season, and how much this one had impressed me with his all-round game.

That striker was Steve Davies, who you don’t need me to point out that he didn’t exactly turn into the next Brett Ormerod!

While Saturday’s result and performance can be hard to quantify, the inevitable League Cup first round knockout has proven there isn’t much real depth to the squad.

With four changes, Pool were completely outclassed by an average League Two team.

It’s important the manager gets things right now and doesn’t allow the bright young players who are coming through to have their confidence shattered through demoralising defeats.

As Will Watt emphatically stated after the game, senior players are needed to help guide the players through the tough times you inevitably have in games.

When I came through the ranks at Rovers, I was lucky enough to have people like Craig Short, Lee Carsley etc to talk and cajole me through games.

Sometimes I’d allow myself to get wound up by opponents or frustrated in my own performance.

A quiet or sometimes a loud word from a senior player you respected could instantly change your outlook and my performances would improve as a result.


A quick note to say that Channel 5’s idea of putting the Football League highlights on at 9pm is a great idea.

It means we don’t have to force ourselves to stay awake until extremely late or watch another singing/talent show on the other side. It’s just a shame that their great ideas stopped there. Confused studio audience, a confused guest in Martin Allen and an even more confusing order for the highlights. Lots of work to be done.

On the subject of being confused, I must give special mention to Arsene Wenger.

After the West Ham defeat he was, as ever, full of vague excuses, but this is the best/most confusing quote for a while: “It’s just the start of the season. Any championship is never a motorway. It is always about responding well to accidents.” Of course it is, Arsene.