Gary Bowyer believes Blackpool’s achievement of staying in League One for another year is more of an impressive feat than last season’s promotion.
The Seasiders are now mathematically safe from relegation having recorded a superb 3-0 win at Gillingham on Saturday, a fourth straight victory that took them up to 10th in the league table.
Pool were named as one of the favourites for relegation at the start of the season but, despite all the off-the-field problems, not once have they found themselves inside the bottom four.
They now have two games remaining to make sure of a top-half finish, which would be a magnificent achievement for Bowyer and his players who deserve all the plaudits that come their way.
“It’s a better achievement,” Bowyer said, when asked which feat was the more impressive, promotion from League Two last year or ensuring safety this year.
“Last year the club had reached rock bottom and with the players we had brought in, I felt we were a top 10 or top 12 side in League Two.
“From a budget point of view, we were probably around that top 12 level as well.
“This year, coming into this league, we had a lot less time for recruitment given that our season in League Two had finished so late with us being in the play-offs.
“Then obviously there’s what’s gone off at the club this year off the pitch.
“But the players haven’t been distracted and for them to be where they are now, and the type of football we’ve asked them to play which is different from last year, it’s a massive achievement from them and everybody connected; whether that be players or staff.
“It’s been hard work and it’s probably been the toughest year that I’ve had in management. That just tells you what’s gone off.
“But we’ve never been distracted, we’ve only concentrated on the football.
“But now the club has got to build. It’s a big stage now for the football club.
“It’s got a great history and a great tradition and we’ve got to keep that along with the fighting qualities we’ve shown this season and last.
“But I’m really pleased and really proud of the players.
“It’s quite simple, we just concentrate on what we can control and that’s the football.
“That’s the enormous satisfaction about this group because they’ve not allowed any of the off-the-field things to distract them.
“We make sure they come into work and work very, very hard to meet the standards we set.
“They know what’s required but they also come in to enjoy themselves to produce performances.
“They’ve done that this season and they’re a credit to themselves.”