There’s probably no better time for United to be facing the Premiership’s surprise package as both clubs are enduring totally differing fortunes. The Reds having just thrashed Birmingham 5-0 are undefeated in all 22 of their league fixtures this season, while the Seasiders have lost four of the last five. Blackpool’s home form is also the worst in the EPL with Ian Holloway’s men taking eleven points at Bloomfield Road all season -although they have played less games than some of the other struggling teams.
Despite the great start Blackpool enjoyed it’s now time for them to start looking over their shoulder as they sit just six points above the relegation zone. As Hull showed a couple of seasons ago- a great start can soon evaporate and Holloway will be under no illusion that he needs to stop the rot sooner rather than later if his team are to stay in the Premier League.
The recent transfer request from Charlie Adam – which was subsequently rejected- cannot have helped make the Blackpool dressing room a happier place but that doesn’t necessarily mean the great team spirit which has served The Seasiders so well will have been irrevocably damaged. Adam’s transfer request- and the mini- saga that’s preceded cannot have been helpful.
Normally we’d look at previous meetings but it’s pointless comparing the results of the clubs the last time they played as it was that long ago it actually occurred before City last won a trophy.
Blackpool have charmed the Premiership this season with surprise results, good attack-minded football and severe over-achieving from a team made up of loanees, journeymen professionals and top flight debutants.
Part of the attraction has been rent-a-quote Ian Holloway whose quips have already become the stuff of legend. When he’s not reminding injury suffering players that “they’ve not been blown up like heroes in the war” or giving his opinion on canceled flights abroad- “just go home, stop lingering round the airport” he’s masterminded some memorable results. Now though if he’s not careful a once promising season could turn into a hugely disappointing one.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Blackpool, they’re still sitting in a highly commendable 12th place -only one point behind Liverpool and have enjoyed some terrific results- not least of all the double over the aforementioned scousers.
Should Ian Hollowa’s men avoid defeat against United then it would not only stop the current rot but also give them a much needed boost and really prove they can perform against any team in the league.
The smart money has to be on United gaining a third away victory of the season however, with Sir Alex having a pretty full squad to chose from with only Carrick and Ferdinand the only recent doubts, along with longer term injury victims Hargreaves and Valencia.
So what hope does the quiet, reserved Holloway have of beating such a seemingly ‘invincible’ United side? Well if he is to pull off the greatest upset of his managerial career he’s going to need some of his best players to be at the absolute top of their game.
Ones to watch / Head to head.
Charlie Adam- The most talked about Blackpool player since Stanley Matthews has been something of a phenomenon this season, with the sort of inspiring performances you’d normally associate with an experienced Premiership international. Adam has a wide range of passes in his arsenal and a lot of The Seasider’s best play comes through the central midfielder. The former Ranger’s man is something of a dead ball specialist and has a good goalscoring record for Tangerine clad outfit.
One weakness that could be exposed is Adam’s lack of real pace- especially if he’s up against a rampant Anderson or Fletcher- who despite not being the quickest certainly has an engine that could cause the Blackpool skipper problems- particularly as the game wears on.
DJ Campbell – One thing that Ian Holloway deserves praise for- other than making some superb anger -induced comments during the whole Rooney contract debacle- is his ability to get the best out of certain players, none more so than Campbell. Nothing in Campbell’s resume suggested he’d be anything other than an occasional scorer in the top-flight, but with seven goals in 18 appearances he has a record to any striker would be proud of.
Campbell has often had to feed off scraps yet still manages to find the net on a regular basis while being a handful for almost any defence. Whether it’s Ferdinand, Vidic or possibly even Smalling who has to deal with the former Leicester, Birmingham and Brentford man, one thing should be engraved in their memory- one lapse in concentration has often been enough for Campbell to grab a goal from.
Luke Varney- Like Campbell Varney is a seasoned-pro who’s enjoying a new lease of life as part of Blackpool’s Premier League campaign. The Derby County loanee has a decent goalscoring record this season although he has now gone six games without finding the net. Varney’s work-rate is second to none and he is always willing to get on the end of high balls should Blackpool decide to ‘go long.’ Although he may be going through a barren spell any player who’s as willing to put in the work as much as Varney is, will always be a handful. To be fair to Varney he’ll have easier games to get back amongst the goals and you wouldn’t expect United’s defence to be too sympathetic to his recent drought.
Blackpool may have a team of hard-working honest players but the lack of real quality in comparison to United should prove too much for them to overcome. The fact that Sir Alex can call upon the likes of Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and Chihcarito to come in to the side after being rested over the weekend gives you a great indication of the gulf in class between the two teams.
Holloway’s performed a minor miracle this season and has managed to achieve what most recently promoted teams struggle to do- find a way to score goals. Blackpool have found the net over 30 times this season which is not a bad return for a team that many thought would be propping up the table after the very first week. Blackpool can maybe find small glimmer of hope in the result Burnley managed against United last season- along with The Reds penchant for drawing away from home.
As long as United don’t allow themselves to get frustrated if an early goal is not forthcoming and are prepared to put in the same amount of effort as their counterparts then everything points towards a comfortable victory.
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