OPINION: Blackpool’s new chief executive has lots of work ahead

Jay Spearing and Curtis Tilt are two Blackpool players out of contract in the summer
Jay Spearing and Curtis Tilt are two Blackpool players out of contract in the summer
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Blackpool’s chief executive Ben Mansford is only two weeks into his new job but he’s likely to have his hands full in the coming weeks and months.

The former Maccabi Tel Aviv man will no doubt have noticed that the contracts of eight players are due to expire at the end of the current campaign.

There’s some key men amongst them, too, namely Mark Howard, top goalscorer Armand Gnanduillet, skipper Jay Spearing and defensive rocks Ollie Turton and Curtis Tilt.

A further nine players are also out of contract next summer, although the club does hold the option to extend their deals by a period of 12 months.

You’d assume Pool will take up that option with the likes of Callum Guy, Liam Feeney and Jordan Thompson.

But with Jak Alnwick, Rocky Bushiri and James Husband to return to their respective parent clubs at the end of the season, that leaves the Seasiders fairly low on numbers when it comes to individuals that are likely to be first-team regulars.

That’s without taking into account the future of Ben Heneghan, whose loan spell from Sheffield United is due to conclude in mid-January.

The centre-back is out of contract at Bramall Lane and, having been placed on the transfer list during the summer, the Blades are unlikely to want their man to go for free in 2020.

Chris Wilder’s outfit will no doubt be touting his name around Championship sides to ensure that the Blades get a fee.

Heneghan spoke candidly during the summer about his desire to play in the second tier – and who can blame him?

His performances deserve it but he would be a massive loss to the Seasiders.

Is there a chance of Blackpool securing him on a permanent deal in January? We’ll see.

The best chance of keeping him at the club might be to extend his loan until the end of the season and then attempt to pick him up for nothing following his release from Sheffield United.

Either way, Blackpool are facing a pretty crucial few months ahead when it comes to recruitment and squad retention.

Some will argue the departure of a number of players will give Grayson the opportunity to refresh the squad and bring in fresh blood.

But, while new additions are always welcome, surely the club also needs some continuity and stability.

They can’t carry on making wholesale changes every summer as they have been doing for the past three or four years.

Keeping the core of this squad together, with five, six or maybe seven additions on top, surely has to be the best way forward?

Anyway, that’s an argument to have for the future and not at this moment in time, as Blackpool’s only focus has to be on Saturday’s return to league action.

This weekend the Seasiders host lowly AFC Wimbledon in their bid to claim a fourth consecutive home win.

With Blackpool set to receive another home tie in Saturday’s EFL Trophy second round draw, due to them topping their group, that will mean the men in tangerine will play four of their next five fixtures at Bloomfield Road.

While Pool do have a tricky run of fixtures coming up, taking on the likes of Ipswich Town, Sunderland and Fleetwood Town, you’d like to think their recent run of three straight wins – regardless of competition – will have given them some much-needed confidence and momentum for the games ahead.

Wimbledon are notoriously difficult to play against and, despite their league position of 20th, I’d expect Pool to have a battle on their hands tomorrow.

The Seasiders have won both of their home games against the new incarnation of Wimbledon, without conceding a goal in the process.

Neither encounters were high-scoring affairs though. While we’d all love to see another seven-goal thriller, a la the recent 4-3 win against Peterborough United, I’d be surprised if Wimbledon were to play in such an open and expansive manner.

Pool will be without Jordan Thompson, who is away with Northern Ireland on international duty. But they are otherwise at full strength.

The Seasiders can move back into the play-off positions with a victory this weekend, with a number of sides in League One not in action due to their games being postponed for call-ups.

That would be the ideal way to set up a tasty-looking trip to table-topping Ipswich next week.