Of course supporters want to see their team winning. But the only way to get out of trouble is to play yourself out.
If a team has to be relegated, it must be a great deal more comforting to be aware of these things: 1) That even in defeat the team played good football; 2) There have been 11 good men in the team. They are carrying no passengers.”
That is from a book written 60 years ago. The author? Blackpool FC legend Harry Johnson. What would he have made of the state of our club today, on the brink of a third relegation in five years?
One demotion is unlucky (for somebody always has to go down), two is poor planning, three begins to look like incompetence or dereliction.
The 2010/11 team were very unlucky to get relegated from the Premier League (the funding of a better stand-in for Matt Gilks would probably have ensured survival). That team was good, even in defeat, and the next year were unlucky to lose the Championship Play-off final.
However, from the autumn of 2012, everything began to fall apart and Blackpool FC failed to follow Harry Johnson’s script.
There appeared to be no coherent plan. Good players were let go without adequate replacement. There was an over-reliance on one-year deals and loan players. Promising youth players were sold.
Training facilities were not upgraded. Managers came and went in a few months. We started 2014/15 with eight registered players and got relegated with the lowest-ever points total. On Sunday we have to win and Fleetwood have to lose or we are back where we were in 2000, in the bottom division.
Last Saturday was a day of high emotion and contrasts at Bloomfield Road. That we were hosting Wigan – a team relegated with Blackpool last season but going back up as champions – is an irony not lost on anyone.
Blackpool should have done what Wigan have. The sorry fact is our team never had a reasonable chance. The set-up isn’t right and the players, despite their best endeavours, are not good enough.
The responsibility for all of this rests squarely with the owner and chairman for not getting so many fundamentally basics right. As Ian Holloway observed, our castle is built on sand!
The real issue for many supporters is that the Oystons didn’t use the revenues that flowed in from our Premier League success to greater effect on the footballing side of the business. For a “cash rich” club to be dropping through the divisions is, frankly, unforgivable.
That is why 3,500 disenfranchised and very unhappy fans marched through town to Bloomfield Road last Saturday, in peaceful but noisy protest against the way Blackpool FC is being mis-managed and demanding substantial change in the way our famous old club is run. We will continue to work for that change until we get it.