Fan’s View 2019/20 – No.6 – Blackpool Away

Article by Paul Beasley Sunday, August 18th, 2019  


Last time we visited Bloomfield Road Blackpool was buzzing even though the longstanding boycott that large numbers of fans had been following was still in place. That was because the hated Oystons were to trouser the money taken at the turnstiles one last time.

The Oyston years and misdemeanours have been well documented previously. On June 13th this year the BBC reported Simon Sadler as the new owner with Owen Oyston’s 31-year reign being ended in the High Court. Sadler was born and brought up in Blackpool.

It’s difficult to know what his net worth is but he’s had a financial career first in the City then for 20 years in Hong Kong where he runs a hedge fund, Segantii, with $3.5bn under management.

He’s taken control in a personal capacity and not through a third-party company. As well as buying 96.2% of the club he’s got the stadium, hotel and training ground.

The accounts for Blackpool Football Club Limited to 30 June 2018 were signed off on 23 July this year and refer to the change of ownership, stating that the ultimate controlling party is no longer O J Oyston (Blackpool Football Club Properties Ltd) but S P Sadler (Rose 123 Investments Ltd).

Whilst looking way rosier than previously they’re not yet fully out of the woods. They lost £1.4m in 2018 and based on projections to June 2022, further significant cash outflows have been identified which indicate “a material uncertainty over the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”. However, “the Directors expect sufficient funds will be introduced into the company to enable it to meet its operational requirements, to restructure the business and to improve its future results”.

Their wage bill was £4m.

The 2017 accounts indicated that the Football Club owed £28m to group undertakings. In the latest accounts there’s a section entitled “post balance sheet events” which tells that Blackpool Football Club Ltd was awarded £31m against Blackpool Football Club Properties Ltd, Owen Oyston and Karl Oyston.

Free of this debt from the corrupt former owner I wonder what these other significant cash outflows relate to.

Anyway BFC is in a very much better place now and the fans are back. Last season there were 3,185 home supporters present when we played there, this season 8,210.  Which is reasonably impressive but they were unbeaten and top of the League after two games. It’s worth pointing out also that the Oyston years included the top flight season of 2010/11 when their average gate was 15,780. It is fair to say though that they do have more fans turning up for home matches than we do.

Blackpool 2 Oxford United 1

I would be surprised if anyone who witnessed this game didn’t come away thinking how on earth did Blackpool win that? Home fans exiting on the final whistle were saying it, away fans were thinking it, Blackpool manager Simon Grayson was honest in his appraisal and the stats tell much, but not all, of the tale of the events. We had 69% possession. Our passing accuracy was 80%, Blackpool’s was 57%. We had 23 shots. Blackpool had four. Five of ours and three of theirs were on target. We had 12 shots blocked.

We hit the frame of the goal twice with great efforts. That they didn’t go in was bad luck. Jamie Mackie should have scored more than one. One miss from our view at the far end seemed an absolute sitter. This though is not bad luck, it’s not being good enough on the day.

Then there’s the penalty that was given and those that weren’t. I’ll come on to Darren Drysdale later.

At the start it appeared no way would this be how the contest was to pan out. The Tangerines started strongly and confidently, befitting a team at the top. Going one down on five minutes I feared the worst. A header powered home from a reasonable, but not exceptional, corner where there was no effective physical challenge was worrying. Mous was the man who was left on the ground. I was left thinking if that had been Elliott Moore out there instead we’d still be level.

Balls continued to be played into our box. They didn’t look bad but no-one was getting on the end of them. We slowly started to play a bit. Initially this wasn’t as fluent as we have been with very few options available to the man with the ball. James Henry was doing his best to make himself available but we were largely kept at bay.

From here on in we continued a gradual improvement until we were very much in charge of the game. Passes weren’t going astray as they had been at the offset and we were looking threatening.

Although this good work had not brought any just rewards it looked to have been undone two minutes into stoppage time. Blackpool’s style was very different to ours. They played a lot of long ball and with strong and quite powerful runners who can blame them? One such ball sent Armand Gnanduillet away. We’d been undone in an instant. The Frenchman took the ball well on his chest and was in on goal but he then put his body between the ball and Dickie before (just my interpretation, mind) jumping in to our man and going down theatrically. At the time I wasn’t sure but TV evidence I think supports this opinion. And there’s no way Drysdale could be sure, he was so far away.

This guy didn’t give us anything to smile about

He is another excuse of a referee. We have to suffer this shit game in game out. So let’s now talk penalties not given. They had another claim that looked much more nailed on than this. We had one I’d argue was at least the equivalent to the one that was given and the most blatant of the day when Josh Ruffels was rugby tackled from behind as he ran in at a corner. By then the players had worked out there was no chance of a second spot kick being awarded.

At 2-0 and already in added time we thought that’s it but the players thought otherwise. They continued to play the ball around in assured fashion and from a Chris Cadden cross our other full back nodded home at the far post informing the home fans and players the break had not quite arrived.

In the second half we absolutely battered them, dictating play almost from start to finish. Long before the end Blackpool were coming across as a team that were anything but a side that should be leading the L1 rankings. A lower mid-table team at best.

For all this they took the three points, the most important statistic being they scored a goal more than we did.

That we played as we did has to bode well for the future and I will go along with that but there’s a couple of things that concern me. (There has to be a but doesn’t there?) The first is obvious, the second perhaps not so much.

Everyone knows we need a centre forward/goal-scorer. Mackie is not a goal-scorer and no way will be able to play 90 minutes continually throughout the season. A natural goal-scorer would not have missed all the chances he did. This is no shit Sherlock stuff and we know Karl is tearing his hair out because he has so far been unsuccessful bringing in such a player. On another day the efforts that hit bar and post would have gone in but with all the chances we had it has to be a worry that other than our left back none were able to force the ball into the goal.

Bringing in new players is rarely going to be easy. They have to tick many boxes. There must be a football fit, an attitude fit (can’t have dressing room harmony spoilt) and a fit fit. Which brings me on to my second point.

We’ve wasted a crazily high proportion of our salary budget on crocks in the past. It’s madness. Of course sometimes it is worth taking a gamble but how often does a sensible risk assessment come into it? (What are Newcastle United doing taking Andy Carrol back? Why did Gillingham take Ricky Holmes when he left us?)

I hate saying this because it is a young man’s living but I thought it probably wasn’t the right decision to keep Robbie Hall. Having seen him again at Bloomfield Road for 20 minutes I think he’s massively short of what is required for L1 football. He’s slow. KR admitted that he’s nowhere near where they want him to be. I can’t see that there’s any way we can get him there. Chatting after the game someone pointed out that since we signed RH up permanently he has only been available for about 25% of games played. In three plus years he’s made 33 league starts, come on as sub 14 times and got just eight goals. (There will always be Swindon).

I agree with most of what Mr Robinson does these days but bringing Hall on before the impressive Anthony Forde was very wrong in my eyes. Forde looks a proper player. Way fitter than Robbie and top quality for L1.

When I saw our line-up and realised Tarique Fosu was out my feeling was that our chances of winning had been reduced quite a bit. Jamie Hanson plays more like Alex Gorrin than the man picked up from Charlton. Fosu can attack defenders and go past one after another when he gets going. Without him we were just left with our impressive passing game. We would have been so much better with his weaponry too.

Fosu is out for a couple of weeks I believe. Charlton fans did warn us. Have we done it again? And where was Dan Agyei? Without a pre-season under his belt how far off is he?

Those that are fit and playing are in tremendous shape. They didn’t tire here and were the ones going strongest at the end of the six added minutes.

Our two full-backs are integral to the way we play. They’re expected to get up and down and I’d guess probably cover more ground in the course of a game than any other outfield player. I heard it said of Cadden that he’s too good for us. Yes, let’s make the most of it whilst he’s here. I like the way he tried to get us travelling fans going even more when Ruffels pulled that goal back.

Other than the goal, Mous did well enough and Dickie was again superb at times. As he brought the ball out from the back where he just knocks it past a forward and goes I hear him described as Dickenbauer.

Gorrin was quietly effective again and probably got taken off because he was on a yellow although for me Hanson had appeared to be the one irking Drysdale the most. Other than Mackie of course.

It took Hanson a while to get into the game and it is not his fault that he’s not Fosu and it must be said that his header that rattled the bar was top drawer.

Cameron Brannagan, as is always the way now, constantly showed for the ball and tried to get things going. On the day I heard many comments and the one about him was that he’ll be another that’s gone for decent money, but only when he cuts out the yellow cards. For the record, he didn’t get booked. Gorrin has in all three league games so far.

Henry had another very good game but if this striker doesn’t arrive it would be nice if he were to re-discover his shooting boots of 2018/19.

Ben Woodburn was the hitter of the post. He’s obviously a talented lad but I’m wondering which way it is going to go for him whilst he is with us. Score a goal, raise his confidence and go on a run of finding the net on a regular basis? Or a flatter to deceive nearly man with it not really working out?

This is the time of the season when we play twice a week and before we know it Burton will be running out at the Kassam. All games are important. Win it and seven points from four games looks pretty good. Lose and four from four, although better than last year, seems much less impressive.

Although there’s a huge amount of frustration at the moment at the refereeing performances we have to put up with and a tiny bit of annoyance that we’re not scoring more goals, we’re producing some delightful passing football and are well worth watching whatever the outcome. I currently feel I should be encouraging more people to get along and support the yellows.

So, if you’re reading this and can get along but are in two minds, please turn up. Burton too are a footballing side.

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