Thursday, 22 September 2011

Preview - Blackpool FC Saturday 24th of September

I’m pretty sure that before last season if you asked the average person on the street to name something connected with Blackpool the answers would have been pretty much industry standard Family Fortunes type of affairs; The Pleasure Beach, The Illuminations, Blackpool Tower, Donkey rides… But last season for the football club of Blackpool it wasn’t an ordinary season and their performances on the pitch and fantastic sound bites of Manager and all around footballing legend Ian Holloway didn’t go unnoticed either. I think the fact that the Championship season was over and we did a live coverage of the Blackpool game on their last Premiership game of the season online was testament to how football fans feel when the little guys deserve to be recognised by the footballing family for their efforts during a season that I’m sure no Blackpool fan will ever forget. We took our Pompey fans hats off and followed that game like it was our own boys out on the field. We wanted them to win and prove that good football could win out on a low budget compared to the rest of the teams in the league. Call it guilt for our financial errors if you’d like to call it that, call it love of the game as a sporting occasion, call it whatever you like… Pre-season the love went sour - Enter Mr Kevin Phillips…

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway is a rare breed of football manager it’s fair to say. Over the years I can remember him being touted around for the Pompey job on and off but he’ll be one of those Managers you look back and wonder what Pompey could have done had he arrived. Pretty much in the same vain as looking at Stoke City and their achievements now and wondering what would have happened if Tony Pulis had have been given more of a chance when he was Pompey boss. I guess there’s no point in speculating too much about the unknown. I’m pretty sure though that had either manager been given the job, or given the chance to prove long term without hitting the panic button too early what could have been achieved - that the recent history of Pompey may have been very different. I’d quite happily knock off the FA Cup win in hindsight if it meant that we’d gotten to the promised land of the English Premier League on a different route and had survived without the history that unfolded the way it did. Both managers took their respective teams to that higher echelon of footballing pedigree. I guess we can only hope that if we ever get there again it’s down the way both those managers achieved it and it the case of Blackpool FC, they did it playing good football to watch from a fans point of view as well. It would not surprise me if Brighton do the same under Manager Gus Poyet – another name that had been touted around as a possible candidate to become Pompey boss in the last 18 months.

I diverse from the tangent I took and come back to KP – Not Mr Peiterson of ex-Hampshire CCC and England fame – the other one. The signing of one player who played down the road at our neighbours really did draw a line under every Pompey fans support of those who can follow the game and support the game as a general rule of thumb and take off their fans hats and appreciate what another side have produced on the pitch against the odds. Had Kevin Phillips never played for the scum down the road then he’d be the sort of striker I’d love to give the plaudits to. The fact remains that you just can’t do it as a Pompey fan -  drinking bleach after the event would be the only normal and sensible route of option to take – I think that expression says it all really.

Is there anything genuinely more worrying after watching the aforementioned players strike last weekend for another wonder goal to worry about as a Pompey fan going into our next fixture than an ex Scummer striker who will start with an aim to take the match ball home with him? How about Pompey’s performance away at Hull City last week or a disciplinary record that beggars belief under the stewardship of current manager Steve Cotterill?

The only thing that stood out for me after the defeat at the hands of Hull City was the fact that SC actually acknowledged for once that it wasn’t about refereeing decisions or missed chances from Pompey – the better side had won. I was about to slate SC online when I watched Holloway admit the same after his Blackpool’s team performance when bugger me SC did the correct thing for once and admit his side didn’t turn up to the races. After the previous weeks away loss to West Ham I really did think we’d go away to Hull and turn them over with some aplomb. What we ended up with as the stats will show is a 1-0 loss with no shots on target, another red card (under appeal) and a possession stat that shows Hull City had 61% possession of the ball during the game. I don’t think it’s any surprise that some fans are already calling for the manager’s head.

Let’s face it on the pitch in all competitions this season – one win isn’t a great record. Neither is the fact that in all games in every competition so far Pompey have failed to play one single game where they haven’t picked up a booking or a sending off. If it wasn’t for the fact that Dirty Leeds are keeping up their end of the bargain to their moniker with more sending’s off so far in the early days of this season, our clubs level off ill discipline would be streets ahead of any other club.

Kitson we understand is once more injured and will not be in the squad to face Blackpool over the weekend. Given his goal scoring record over this campaign and the last season - few fans will be crying over that fact. However the loss of Varney on Saturday especially against his old club will have a few of the Fratton Faithful more than a bit fearful of what might happen come full time if KP continues his current form and decides to cement his place in the history of ex-players from you know where who continue to be legends even after their playing ties have long been cut for their ex clubs. Had David Nugent not been taken off with an injury for Leicester and had bagged a hat trick for them against the Scum he would have been re-born at that moment as a Pompey legend. Let’s not let any fan lie about that fact – This is Pompey and rivalry at its best after all.

The defeat last weekend away to Hull City has to be one of the worst performances recorded under the reign of SC during his time as Pompey manager. Last season Pompey won 2-1 away on a day when the fans, players and club didn’t even know if it would be their last game ever. That day the players showed the pride and passion that the fans demand from whoever pulls on the Pompey shirt. A season later and Pompey fans are left once more frustrated from the final results on the pitch.
I look at the situation at Arsenal and  scratch my head when their fans call for the head of manager Arsene Wenger. They play some of the finest football on the pitch in Europe without a shadow of a doubt and despite a few basic errors on the pitch so far, who would really be able to replace the manager there with the managers and clubs view towards financial stability? People might laugh at Arsenal’s start so far this season but with so many youngsters coming through, if Platini gets his way with new reforms – who’s to say that as the Arsenal board will no doubt keep faith in their manager, that come the new regulation tightening that the Frenchman won’t have the last laugh? Looking at the situation at Pompey I don’t think SC will have the same benefit if things don’t improve result wise –Having said that I don’t think CSI will pay him off for the rest of his contract. I think rightly or wrongly SC will be here for a while to come at FP and trips far afield even if the results don’t go our way.

Statistically SC as Pompey manager has seen his side win just under 1 in every 3 games in charge under his leadership. That’s not a bad record to have given the financial constraints he’s had to work with. However the more damning record will show that since March when we completed the double over Leicester we have only won one more game. Since then we’ve had 50 yellow cards and five sending’s off. Don’t even get me started on the strike rates for our so called forward line.

The omens don’t look great going into Saturday’s match it’s fair to say. The stats don’t lie. Just 18 goals scored in the first half in 57 games under SC. Far be it for me to suggest he needs a decent Assistant Manager at the very least but time is ticking for the current Pompey boss…..

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