How this has happened has been well documented and whilst most Saints fans will be happy for Blackpool to prolong the fun they are having in the Premier League for as long as possible, they will be hoping to be back up there themselves in the short term.
In fact, if Ian Holloway’s charges were to succumb to so called second season syndrome and Southampton were to strike a bit of luck and achieve successive promotions, they could conceivably cross each other during the Summer of 2012.
The match itself could have appeared to be a battle of the two clubs’ reserve sides, with Saints making eight changes from their previous league match and Holloway changing nine of his previous Blackpool line-up. In reality though it emphasised Southampton’s strength, comparable to the level they are currently playing week in week out, as well as how well Blackpool have done to get into, and hold their own in, the country’s showcase division.
All bar one of the Southampton changes could argue that they are first team regulars and those rested would have similar arguments that they are also part of a rotation policy rather than just squad players. Blackpool, on the other hand, fielded a team very much different to the one you would expect to see in their Premier League ties.
Looking at events on the pitch and Saints would have felt very aggrieved if the result was anything other than the win it turned out to be. Aside the two goals scored, they had what appeared to be a perfectly legitimate, if cheeky, Lee Barnard goal disallowed with both the crossbar and post also being rattled ferociously. These five chances themselves eclipsed the three on target attempts that Blackpool produced all afternoon.
Next it’s on to the fourth round and a tie with Manchester United that no-one can have any complaints about. It really is a no-lose situation as far as Southampton are concerned. It will be a day that the rigours of a League One promotion attempt can be ignored and where the game can be played with little pressure in front of what should be a sell out crowd.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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