Blackpool sporting director pinpoints the club’s aim and what they need to achieve it

David Downes has discussed Blackpool's aimsDavid Downes has discussed Blackpool's aims
David Downes has discussed Blackpool's aims
Blackpool sporting director David Downes admits the club are wary of some of the teams entering League One next season- but states the target of reaching the Championship remains the same.

The same Seasiders fell short of reaching the play-offs in the most recent campaign, with a 3-2 defeat on the final day away to Reading leaving them outside of the top six.

Stockport County, Wrexham and Mansfield Town have already been promoted from League Two, with a play-off final between Crawley Town and Crewe still to come. Meanwhile, Birmingham City, Huddersfield Town and Rotherham United have all been relegated from the Championship.

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"The aim is of course to get the club back into the Championship but at the same time respect the sides who will be in and around us this coming season," Downes told the club website.

"You look at the sides that are joining us - the likes of Wrexham and Stockport who have done exceptionally well over recent years and are riding the crest of a wave. The sides that are coming down from the Championship are established clubs in and around this level as well, so there are realistically probably around 12-15 teams who all think they will have a chance of making the top six come the end of the season.”

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Downes states Blackpool need to be intelligent with their business this summer and look to replicate some of the successful signings they made last year.

"We need to be pro-active and squeeze the lemon dry in terms of recruitment and coaching and try and be as smart as we can,” he added.

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"We believe we have a really strong coaching staff here, who are able to bring a group of players together and coach them well to improve them individually and as a group. We saw that with the likes of Karamoko (Dembele) last season, who was exceptional, so we need to trust what we do and the processes we follow and find the best value where we can.”

The Seasiders face a rebuild this summer, with four senior players departing the club following the conclusion of their contracts. One of Downes’ first jobs will be to fill the gaps left by the exits of Callum Connolly, Marvin Ekpiteta, Matty Virtue and Shayne Lavery, with the sporting director having a vision of the personnel that they will recruit.

"I think there's no shying away from the fact that we are light in certain areas following the publication of the retained and released list, and these are areas we need to look at," he said.

"Our recruitment team have been hard at work, particularly over recent months, looking at potential additions we can make to the squad over the course of the summer.

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"Obviously, you work off different plans at certain points of the campaign, but once the curtain closed on the 2023/24 season, myself, Neil and the recruitment team have all had several meetings on what we want the squad to look like next season and the areas that we need to recruit in. We obviously also need to replace the players that have left us in recent weeks that have been good servants to us over recent years, and we are working hard on identifying the right targets.

"We need to make sure we get the balance right with the group, ensuring there is a good blend of youth and experience. The experience may not just come with age, it may come from the amount of games the player has under his belt, but making sure we have good leaders and mentors in the group is crucial.

"There will be times over the course of the season where there will be challenging moments and we need to pull through and dig deep, and having those kind of players in the squad who have experienced those moments before in their careers can be vital."

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