“Staying up would be the biggest achievement for Blackpool Football Club for quite a while.”
Those are the words of Neil McDonald ahead of tomorrow’s vital clash at Crewe as the Seasiders battle to stay in League One.
In recent weeks, my conscience has actually asked if we’ve been too harsh on McDonald, often questioning his tactics, interviews and team selection.
It’s not something we enjoy doing, and I can half-understand what he’s trying to say in the above statement. That said, it’s a ridiculous comment.
Five years ago, 90,000 people packed Blackpool Promenade for a victory parade to celebrate their side being promoted to the Premier League.
The following season they briefly topped one of the biggest leagues in the world and did the double over Liverpool. Even when they were relegated by a single point and lost key men in the form of Charlie Adam, David Vaughan and DJ Campbell, Ian Holloway rebuilt the team and took them back to the Championship Play-off Final in 2012.
Would survival in one of the worst leagues I’ve ever experienced match any of that? The answer is a point- blank no.
No-one would love to see Blackpool survive this season more than I – the travelling which comes with League Two football certainly doesn’t appeal.
But I get the feeling McDonald and his men will be on the field celebrating should they manage to survive. Is that really the level of ambition at this club now?
All season we’ve spoken about McDonald’s problems, and there’s no doubt he has been dealt one of the worst hands ever for a manager.
And for that reason, none of the criticism against him is particularly personal. Like Lee Clark, he’ll eventually drift off telling everyone about the “impossible job” he took on.
But on the face of it Blackpool FC is still a very rich club – there are millions of pounds in the bank.
This season around £500,000 has been spent on transfer fees, almost £400,000 on strikers Jack Redshaw, Mark Cullen and Danny Philliskirk. How many of the clubs around Blackpool in the league have spent that sort of money?
It would be a pipedream for the management of tomorrow’s opponents Crewe.
That game is as much a must-win game as they come. Blackpool could be out of the relegation zone on Saturday night or five points from safety, having played more games.
Having five points to make up (or even eight if matches in hand went against them) with only eight games to go would leave Pool needing a miracle to survive.
But it’s still all in Blackpool’s hands and if they can win two of their next three very winnable games, then they’ll be in with a real chance.
And if the next nine games really are cup finals, like McDonald insists, I’d like to see them treated as exactly that.
Blackpool need to attack the opposition and go for broke in every game now. Sitting back and hoping to nick a goal just won’t do.
Pool’s best display of recent weeks came at Chesterfield, where McDonald went for it in terms of his formation. Why not do so again tomorrow at Crewe?
It’s a huge task for Blackpool, and one which McDonald is right to say would deserve praise should they pull it off.
But it wouldn’t justify dancing around the field and claiming it’s the biggest achievement in years. Survival will be nothing to celebrate. A pat on the back will do.