Will Watt column: Now Pool have to step up a gear

Blackpool's Mark Cullen
Blackpool's Mark Cullen
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Five unbeaten, not conceding many goals and just a win away from climbing out of the relegation zone – yet I’m not satisfied.

Neil McDonald and his players have rightly taken real praise for the way they’ve turned things around and made the best out of a dreadful hand given to them at the start of the season.

But they cannot settle with the improvement in fortunes – this has to be just the beginning.

No doubt a mid-table finish will be seen as a positive achievement for McDonald. In fact, at one point many would have been ready to declare him manager of the year there and then if he achieved it.

But now they’ve steadied the ship, that vessel has to start to move forward again. Blackpool need to look up once more.

While transfer activity was almost impossible in recent months for the boss, now (at least on the field) the dark clouds are starting to part a little. Blackpool have to take advantage.

As we all know, the money is there. And according to McDonald, the chairman is willing to help him add to the squad. Well, it’s time to make hay while the sun shines.

This is not a strong division. Pool are no longer in the Championship, where the bigger clubs have Premier League wage bills and the Seasiders would require an Ian Holloway-style miracle to succeed.

A little bit of quality added to thedecent squad McDonald has put together, and there’s no reason Pool couldn’t make a run for the top end of the division.

Ridiculous as that sounds, I’ve seen enough of the ‘top’ teams in this division to know none of them would survive in the Championship. The standard is so different.

Therefore, I urge Blackpool, the Oystons or whoever makes the decisions these days to hand McDonald real backing. I think he’s shown in this short spell that he deserves it.

He could easily have walked back to the cocktail lounge of the Premier League with Big Sam last week, but chose not to as he clearly thinks he can succeed at this level. Well, Karl Oyston now needs to back him.

That said, you can’t run before you can walk and Pool remain in the relegation places in League One.

Tomorrow, for the first time is as long as I can remember, Pool go into a game as favourites. The Crewe game is one Blackpool MUST win.

With a run of away games to come, the Seasiders need to get back to winning ways and pick up a result which will probably drag them out of the relegation zone for the first time.

The positivity around the team at the moment is justified and deserved, but they’ve achieved nothing yet. It’s time to see Blackpool finally kick on.

- You may have read at the front end of today’s paper that a dinner to mark Jimmy Armfield’s 80th birthday was held last night and it was a real honour to attend.

I consider myself to be in a privileged position covering Blackpool for The Gazette – not many have had the honour over the years – but without doubt one of the best parts of the job is talking regularly with Jimmy.

Each time Jimmy is on the other end of the phone, I learn something about football. I could listen to him all day.

It’s hard to take in everything he has achieved on and off the field in his career and in his life.

Last night’s event attracted a host of familiar faces from the world of football and from the town of Blackpool, showing just what high regard Jimmy is held in.

It’s incredible to think he hasn’t yet been knighted.

The only negative for the whole evening was the lack of anyone representive Blackpool Football Club’s board or first team staff, someone should have made the effort.

I know we wished him happy birthday a few weeks back, but many happy returns Jim.