Inside man’s nightmare season at Pool

Tom Breakspear (left) alongside Lee Clark
Tom Breakspear (left) alongside Lee Clark
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A member of the inner circle at Blackpool FC last season has spoken out about his “nightmare” job, claiming the club’s “pub football” set-up made the task impossible.

Tom Breakspear was the club’s first-team analyst last season, working closely with both Jose Riga and Lee Clark as Pool were relegated with the joint-lowest points total in Championship history.

And Breakspear, who left the club this week, pulled no punches in an exclusive interview with The Gazette.

He said: “A few former players have said Blackpool is run like a pub team but that would be an insult to certain pub teams.

“At least on a Sunday morning there’s an order and everyone knows who’s doing what. At Blackpool certain things just weren’t getting done.

“Then there’s the way people on the football side were treated – I didn’t like it.

“It wasn’t the manager – the non-football side of the club treated everyone so badly.

“The way some players were treated and spoken to just wasn’t good enough. I thought it was disgusting.”

Breakspear spent two years at Bloomfield Road, first working with the club’s academy before being promoted to the first team last summer to work alongside Riga.

The role of analyst is a modern development as technology plays an ever greater part in football.

Breakspear would work with the manager to compile reports on upcoming opponents, scout transfer targets and provide video analysis of games to help prepare the players.

And he admits the club’s staff faced an impossible task. “You didn’t have a day when there wasn’t something going on or going wrong,” he added.

“There were moments in the season when we all thought, ‘Surely that’s it now. It can’t get any worse.’ Then something else would happen and hit us all for six.

“I started the same day Jose Riga did, so I saw everything which happened from the moment he walked through the door. It was just crazy and it all took a lot out of us.

“When Lee Clark came in there was a bit of renewed optimism but that soon changed.

“Every day something was happening, whether it was with a player or outside football. The accumulation of all those things meant it was always an impossible job for the coaching staff.”

And Breakspear found his own role especially difficult, adding: “The staff were having to put in so many extra hours to do the simplest of tasks.

“We didn’t have the correct equipment, which meant everything was taking six or seven hours longer than it should have. There weren’t enough staff and it quickly became a nightmare.

“I had to use my own equipment because the club wouldn’t buy it.

“We didn’t have access to a proper scouting network, which you should have at a Championship club. It was just one thing after another.

“It became so difficult for the staff. We were all dealing with non-stop issues.

“We always thought we could fight against all the issues and keep Blackpool up. We held on to hope it would all come good.

“When Lee Clark came in, I honestly thought we’d kick-on and stay up.

“Initially we saw a change in results, but then the same old mentality crept back in and it was all impossible.

“As staff we were part of what happened at Blackpool last season. Maybe we could all have done more but it was all in the context of what we were up against.”

Breakspear left his role at Bloomfield Road this week, claiming the last 12 months has seen him lose love for the game.

And he leaves with huge sympathy for the long-suffering Pool supporters.

He added: “I feel for the fans at Blackpool as I’m an Aston Villa fan and I can related to the frustrations we had with Doug Ellis.

“But with Doug Ellis you always in the back of your mind you knew he was doing it in his heart for the right reasons.

“But I have never understood why Blackpool is being run like it is.

“So I understand the fans and their frustrations, but I don’t understand why they go there and hand their money over?

“If the fans don’t go and spend money with the club, then things will surely change.”