Why Blackpool are being entrusted with the best young players from Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City

I’ve seen some discussion, mainly from outside the Blackpool bubble, about why Arsenal would choose Blackpool as a suitable destination for Charlie Patino.

Friday, 5th August 2022, 8:00 am
Updated Friday, 5th August 2022, 8:35 am

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For a start, assertions like that are incredibly patronising and snobby. Perhaps we should rephrase the question and ask: why wouldn’t they?

The main sticking point appears to be that Blackpool are predicted by some to struggle in the Championship this season.

Even if that proves to be the case, and it’s a big if, given they stayed up comfortably last season, what’s the problem with that?

Too many players are afraid to step out of their comfort zone. Thankfully Patino, who is still only 18, remember, is prepared to do exactly that.

People, and this applies for those outside the world of football as much as it does for those within, only learn, develop and grow through adversity. You have to experience hardship and make mistakes to become better, otherwise how do you learn?

Too many people are afraid to fail, to quote that British Army ad that did the rounds a few years ago.

Charlie Patino is widely regarded as one of the best players in Arsenal's academy

Arsenal already know they can trust Blackpool – and Michael Appleton too, for that matter – with their best young players.

Dan Ballard got his first real taste of senior’s men football with the Seasiders and look how that made him a better player.

Okay, it didn’t work out with Tyreece John-Jules last season but you’re going to get that with loans, not every loan spell will work out. That’s the nature of the beast.

The fact that Arsenal are prepared to loan their best young players to Blackpool for three consecutive seasons is no coincidence. The same applies for Liverpool and Manchester City, who have lent Rhys Williams and Lewis Fiorini respectively.

Patino also looks to be a perfect fit for Appleton’s 4-3-3 system, the same formation utilised by Mikel Arteta at the Emirates Stadium.

The Seasiders are also looking to adopt more of a possession-based approach this season too under Appleton, which again will be music to Patino’s ears.

Appleton has demonstrated over a lengthy period of time that he has an impressive track record in the loan market.

You only have to look back to last season with another Arsenal boy, Brooke Norton-Cuffy, who was Lincoln’s star player as they battled against relegation in League One.

Despite the battle for survival, the right-back didn’t turn out too badly, did he? Because he was one of the star performers earlier this summer when England Under-19s won the European Championships.

Looking further back during the season Appleton led Lincoln to the play-off final, loans played an instrumental part of his success with the likes of Alex Palmer (West Brom), TJ Eyoma (Tottenham), Morgan Rogers (Man City) and most significantly Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest) making up the core of his team.

At Oxford, meanwhile, Appleton brought in Kemar Roofe (West Brom) and George Baldock (MK Dons), two players who were vital in steering the U’s away from trouble during his first season.

Baldock came back again for the first half of the following season, when Oxford won promotion from League Two.

When he was recalled, Appleton swooped for Jonjoe Kenny from Everton. Jordan Graham from Wolves was also effective during a short loan spell early that season.

In League One, the two loanees that stood out were strikers Conor McAleny (Everton) and Toni Martinez (West Ham). The list goes on and on.

If you’re a supposedly smaller club in a league with a smaller budget, as Lincoln are in League One and Blackpool are in the Championship, it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of the loan market, because when else are you going to have access to such a high level of talent?

If anything, I was shocked Neil Critchley didn’t utilise it more during his time at Bloomfield Road, especially given his obvious links to Liverpool

Take a player like Tyler Morton, who has recently signed on loan for Blackburn Rovers, he’s exactly the type of player I’d have expected Critchley to target. But perhaps Critchley didn’t want to rely too heavily on his former club?

Some Blackpool fans have questioned why the club are relying on loans so much this summer, with four already in the building. Remember only five can be used in a match-day squad.

I don’t mind it though. We were told when Appleton was appointed this was a route the club were likely to go down and, as previously suggested, it would be bizarre if Blackpool didn’t make the most of Appleton’s connections.

That’s not to say the Seasiders are ignoring permanent deals though and have now decided not to develop their own players.

But they’ve already done a lot of good work in that market. Not just with Dom Thompson this summer, who had an excellent debut last week, but also with the likes of Jordan Gabriel, Oliver Casey, Sonny Carey and Jake Beesley who are longer-term projects.

It’s about finding that balance, inter-mingling experienced pros with exciting young loanees and up-and-coming talents already at the club.

With over three weeks to go until the window closes, there’s still plenty of time for Blackpool to bring in two or three more – and as we’ve seen with Colby Bishop and Cameron Brannagan amongst others – it’s not like the club are actively deciding against bringing in permanent deals.

There’s no doubting the Seasiders endured a frustrating couple of weeks in the transfer market, but things are finally beginning to look up.