Brett Ormerod column: Blackpool are the side in form heading into the play-offs
For Blackpool to finish third in the league with 80 points is a superb achievement.
You’d have to say they go into the play-offs as the form team which, as Blackpool fans know only too well, is so important.
Oxford will be delighted to finish in the top six on the final day but let’s be honest, I don’t think any of the sides in the play-offs will have wanted to face Blackpool.
Blackpool’s achievement is even more significant when you consider the poor start they had to the campaign.
As I wrote in this very column, it’s a long season and yes, things weren’t going their way, but even the players themselves said they always believed they would turn it around.
Chris Maxwell was especially vocal, so full credit to him.
In a lot of the games they were losing, they were the better team for most of it but they were just conceding some silly goals and probably not scoring as many as they would have liked.
Over the course of the season, they’ve grown as a squad and Neil Critchley has grown as well.
They’ve all come together and found different ways of winning games.
They’ve got better and better as the season has gone on and they’ve built that momentum slowly up to where they are now, which is fantastic form, scoring goals and winning lots of football matches.
Once in you’re the play-offs, favourites, bookies’ odds and all that goes out of the window.
When we played Nottingham Forest in the semi-finals back in 2010, they hadn’t been beaten at home in a long time and were on a long unbeaten run, but we knew if we played like we could, then we could win.
Anything can happen in these games, as Blackpool fans know because they’ve got the history of it.
The league season is done, now it’s about the next two games against Oxford.
Pool took four points from the two games they played against them during the season but I wouldn’t read too much into that, that’s the league form.
Everything that has gone before has gone now, it’s as simple as that.
Oxford are there on effort and merit as much as Blackpool, so it will be tough.
They might have a bit of extra confidence because they’ve snatched a play-off place on the final day, that could well give them a lift.
You still look at the form table and Blackpool’s form and you have to back them, but they have to keep professional and keep doing what they’re doing.
If they do that, hopefully they’ll come through it.
Both times I finished in the play-offs with Blackpool, we sneaked in on the last day, but we were in good form and we had the momentum.
We didn’t have a poor start under Ian Holloway, but it wasn’t the best start. Under Steve McMahon we had a poor start though, but we managed to get our act together and, by the end of the season, we were flying.
We beat Hartlepool twice who had finished higher and had just missed out on automatic promotion, and then we did the same to Forest in 2010.
Blackpool famously have a great play-off record, but it’s difficult to put your finger on exactly why that is. They do tend to rise to the big occasion though.
They’ve been promoted through every league through the play-offs, so as a tradition as a football club, it stands them in very good stead.
Having the fans back is going to be massive. I’m not sure exactly how many will be allowed in, but any kind of fans is a plus compared to what we’ve had over the last 12 months.
That’s really good news and hopefully it will make a massive difference, especially in the decisive second leg at Bloomfield Road.
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