Matt Scrafton’s verdict on Blackpool’s transfer window as deadline passes

Today’s transfer deadline came and went in a flash. In truth, it was a bit of a damp squib if you’re a Blackpool fan, but that should come as a very good sign.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 7:19 pm
Simon Grayson did his business nice and early, meaning deadline day was a quiet one at Bloomfield Road

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League One deadline day RECAP

It was all calm at Bloomfield Road when I was down there for the pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow night’s EFL Trophy group stage opener against Morecambe.

There was no desperation, no mad rush to get deals over the line, because the club’s business had all been wrapped up in good time.

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Blackpool Football Club is very much a smooth operation nowadays and they go about things in the right manner.

Had a player who piqued their interest been offered their way, I’m sure Simon Grayson and his team would have taken a look at it.

But it was never a case of the Seasiders scouring the market desperately looking for new signings, because that work had already been done.

There’s no doubting that Blackpool have ended the transfer window in a far stronger state than how they started it.

That’s hugely encouraging for the Seasiders, given last season’s squad finished in a more-than-respectable 10th position in League One - despite all the uncertainty off the pitch.

But these are different times at Bloomfield Road, and with the two Simon’s at the helm a 10th-placed finish simply won’t be accepted this season.

There’s been 13 arrivals in total this summer, a figure that goes hand-in-hand with the change we’ve seen on and off the pitch in the last few months.

It’s fair to say, up until recently, the club’s recruitment has been a little haphazard over the course of the off-season.

In many ways that was unavoidable, as the window opened with Terry McPhillips at the helm and ended it with Simon Grayson.

Thanks to the arrival of the new owner, the club’s ambitions have totally changed and the money at its disposal means Pool have been able to look at a completely different calibre of player, when McPhillips had no option but to sign free agents.

It speaks volumes that two of McPhillips’ summer arrivals in Jamie Devitt, Ben Tollitt, and possibly a third to follow, have all left the club on loan without making a single competitive appearance between them.

That’s nothing against that particular trio of players, but their chances of playing regular football under Grayson’s management was always going to be limited as there’s been a noticeable step-up in quality of those who have arrived under the new boss.

Looking at Pool’s outgoings this summer, the only one you’d say the team will miss is Marc Bola, who made the step up to the Championship.

The club received a considerable fee for the left-back’s services and they simply weren’t willing to stand in his way.

The cash came in handy, anyway, as it allowed the Seasiders to bring in promising striker Joe Nuttall - a man Grayson knows well from watching his son Joe play for Blackburn Rovers’ Under-23 side on a number of occasions.

A fee was also splashed out on Ryan Hardie from Rangers, while four loans have been acquired.

The most impressive of those loan arrivals, you’d have to say, was the return of defender Ben Heneghan.

The centre back attracted plenty of interest from Championship sides during the summer but a deal never materialised for the Sheffield United man.

His loss was definitely Blackpool’s gain as they got a player who was among their best performers last season.

Other than Heneghan, you’d have to say Sullay Kaikai was probably Blackpool’s most exciting acquisition of the summer.

The winger, who arrived on a free transfer from Dutch side NAC Breda, has became a firm favourite with the fanbase already with his direct runs, pacey and trickery.

Add an end product to his game and the Seasiders have got a real talent on their hands for two years at least, possibly three should the club extend his option.

The speculation surrounding Charlie Adam was a transfer saga that rumbled on for far too long and became somewhat farcical by the time he eventually signed for Reading.

It dragged on for far too long and it soon became clear Adam was the one pushing for the deal more than the club were, even if talks did take place.

For one reason or another, the move never came to fruition. For romantic reasons it would have made sense to bring Adam back and I’m sure shirt sales would have rocketed too.

But Blackpool, after years of ruinous ownership, is a club that is very much looking forwards, not backwards.

And the club’s recruitment makes it clear young, hungry up-and coming players are what they are looking for. It is now time for the new breed to step up and become Blackpool’s future heroes.

Many Pool fans felt the team was in need of some added creativity in midfield. While I agree with this view, to an extent anyway, I didn’t feel as strongly about it as others.

It mustn’t be forgotten that Matty Virtue is now available after returning from injury and the ex-Liverpool man is more than capable of becoming that box-to-box player who is slightly more attack-minded than some of his other midfield colleagues. He showed his potential on numerous occasions last season.

I’d also add that, given the system Grayson has utilised in the opening weeks of the campaign, it’s not actually the midfielders who are as heavily relied upon to create chances as they normally would.

Instead it is the wing-backs, and Liam Feeney in particular, and the front three who are being called upon to break down opposition defences.

That’s worked well for the unbeaten Seasiders so far this term and long may it continue.