OPINION: Blackpool’s excellent start doesn’t mask the issues to be addressed
There’s no doubt Simon Grayson would have snapped your hand off had he been offered Blackpool’s impressive start to the new season at the beginning of the month.
Three wins and a draw from the opening four games is as good as you’re going to get and probably beyond Grayson’s wildest dreams when he returned to the managerial hotseat at Bloomfield Road just a few weeks before the start of the campaign.
But Grayson is an experienced manager and won’t be getting carried away.
He’ll also be well aware there are still a few shortcomings in his squad that need to be addressed.
For all the praise Blackpool deserve for their previous two performances, which had more to do with their guts, character and desire than their ability, which we saw against Bristol Rovers and Southend United, relying on those attributes isn’t sustainable.
Grayson is right to say you need to be able to win games in different ways to be successful in this division, but you can’t do it every week.
Against both Oxford United and Gillingham, I lost count of the number of times Blackpool had to make goalline clearances, last-ditch blocks while putting their bodies on the line.
It was impressive as it was worrying.
While the Seasiders are certainly capable of doing the ugly side of the game to hold onto a result or to see out a period of pressure, ideally you don’t want to be in that situation in the first place.
What was so impressive in Pool’s first two wins of the campaign was how they didn’t really need to do any defending because they were in total control.
The best form of defence, as they say, is attack.
It’s no surprise sides have clocked on that Blackpool’s main threat comes from the pace, dynamism and strength of their front three.
It was no coincidence to see both Oxford and Gillingham look to combat that and starve the trio of the ball.
So the Seasiders must find other ways to break sides down, whether that be with different personnel, a different approach or different players.
That brings me onto the remaining 10 days of the transfer window, the success of which for Blackpool could go a long way in deciding their fate this season.
Yes, Blackpool are top of the league after four games, but they still need to strengthen.
Another centre-back appears high on the agenda, an extra midfielder would be nice and a forward who can play across the front three would also come in handy.
Blackpool are certainly looking and talks are ongoing behind the scenes.
Grayson, meanwhile, has made it clear he wants to bring in reinforcements before sending those deemed surplus to requirements out of the club.
Jamie Devitt is one that continues to be linked with a move away, despite only arriving at Bloomfield Road during the summer.
The attacking midfielder, a Terry McPhillips signing, was left out of the squad on Tuesday night despite travelling with his teammates.
It appears he’s out of favour, but he’s far from the only one.
Yusifu Ceesay, Rowan Roache, Ben Tollitt and Adi Yussuf are three others who are unlikely to see game time any time soon.
The recent injuries to Joe Nuttall, Jay Spearing and Matty Virtue, coupled with James Husband’s suspension – which comes to an end at Rochdale this weekend – has highlighted Blackpool’s need for more bodies.
The Seasiders possess a huge squad but, beyond a core of 13 or 14 players, there’s not a great deal of quality they can rely on – not if they’re serious about challenging for promotion anyway.
Pool have plenty of players who can be described as ‘solid’ and ‘will do a job’, but you need more than that if you’re to enjoy success.
Having earned promotion from the third tier on four occasions, Grayson will be more aware of that than most.
Onto matters on the pitch, Blackpool are on the road again this weekend, although it’s a much shorter trip than the one they endured in midweek.
Rochdale provide the opposition and will give Blackpool a tough test, having run promotion favourites Sunderland so close on Tuesday.
There’s likely to be a reunion with former Seasider Jimmy Ryan, who returns from a suspension of his own having started his Rochdale career in nightmare fashion by picking up a three-game suspension for an incident not initially seen on his club debut.
It certainly won’t be an easy afternoon for Grayson’s men, but there’s no reason why their magnificent start to the new season can’t continue.