Ben Burgess column: No excuse for Pool not to challenge

Gary Bowyer's men had a disappointing start to 2017 with defeat against Mansfield Town on Monday
Gary Bowyer's men had a disappointing start to 2017 with defeat against Mansfield Town on Monday
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The start of the new year and there’s nothing like sending a positive message out to your fans and the other teams in the league.

Sadly, the home defeat to Mansfield was nothing like a positive message!

The Seasiders are in a strange position at the moment in the league. They can choose to coast along, picking up the odd decent result interspersed with disappointing games like the Mansfield one.

Or they can use this defeat as a catalyst, really push and challenge themselves and make the play-offs.

Blackpool no longer have the excuse of being a team in transition.

Gary Bowyer has assembled a good League Two squad and there is competition for places in every position.

Bowyer himself is the best manager the club have had since Ian Holloway, so this season really is an opportunity not to be missed.

At their free-flowing best there aren’t many teams in this division that can live with them.

The concern from recent games is the lack of a goal threat.

Only one goal in the last four games, one shot on target against Mansfield and the area for improvement is clear for people to see.

This is despite the gluttony of strikers at their disposal.

I personally think that as soon as Kyle Vassell breaks his mini-goal drought then the whole team will be lifted.

The next two games are cup fixtures and the FA Cup tie against Barnsley at home tomorrow is the main event.

It will be a great test to see if Bowyer’s men can shock a Championship club and also get their season back on track.

Blackpool aren’t the only club to have hit a bit of a sticky patch.

The pressures in the Premier League, and especially at Manchester City at the moment, appear to be getting to ‘Mr Cool’ himself, Pep Guardiola.

Usually Pep would be enjoying a nice relaxing winter break somewhere exotic as Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager; instead he’s stuck in wintry Manchester.

People say you don’t ever find the true measure of someone until they’ve faced adversity.

It’s how you react to failure and disappointments that show your true strength and ability.

Well after his sensational start to management with Barcelona and Bayern, where he won everything possible, he now faces the biggest challenge of his career; City have an ageing squad and very clear weaknesses in defence.

Judging from Guardiola’s ‘spiky’ post match interview after victory over Burnley, he’s now aware of the size of the task ahead of him.

I’ve read with great interest in recent weeks about the evidence of the harmful effects of heading a football.

Research from Stirling University showed memory impairment after heading a ball and on top of this there are the many ex-players who’ve suffered/are suffering from serious brain conditions.

The case of ex-West Brom and England international Jeff Astle dying from a condition reportedly linked to repeatedly heading a ball is the most-high profile incident.

These findings are extremely concerning considering I spent most of my career, in fact most of my life, heading the ball.

Thankfully, balls are far more lightweight than the old days but as the study has shown, there can still be damage to the brain.

The PFA have suggested introducing a rule to ban heading for any player under 10 years old.

They already have this rule in America and it makes perfect sense.

No youth coach should really be concentrating their coaching sessions on heading anyway but a complete ban would be a good idea.

It may also help to encourage coaches and young players to keep the ball on the floor and not just to hoof the ball upfield.