With the Football League kick-off just days away, this series of articles takes a closer look at the 24 teams vying for the £100 million Premier League bonanza.
Such has been the plight of Blackpool it is difficult to imagine that they graced the Premier League only three years ago and were so close to a return in 2012.
However, since Ian Holloway left the club in November 2012, off-field turmoil that has seen them change managers four times and lose ever member of their successful playing squads from 2009-12. Latest manager Jose Riga faces the unenviable task of rebuilding a squad from seemingly the ground up.
Tom Ince excepted, the haemorrhaging of players this summer has not been so alarming because of the loss of talent, but because it smacks of a club in turmoil. When the players returned for pre-season training there weren’t even enough senior players to organise a five-a-side kickabout. The situation was so dire the club had to cancel a pre-season tour to Spain because there was no team to field.
This situation has improved over the past week with a raft of new signings meaning the club will be able to name a full match-day squad for the season’s opener at Nottingham Forest. However the task of building a cohesive unit with such a rag bag of free transfers and loan signings is a massive one for Riga.
One can’t help but feel Blackpool have the look of a sinking ship about them (contrary to Karl Oyston’s defiant claims in pre-season) and it would be of no surprise if they plummeted through the trap door to League One.
Last Season: 20th
Manager: Jose Riga
Transfers In*: Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano, undisclosed), Ishmael Miller (Nottingham Forest, free), Sergei Zenjov (FC Karpaty Lviv, free), Jacob Mellis & Tomasz Cywka (Barnsley, free), Peter Clarke (Huddersfield, free), Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa, free), Joan Oriol (Osasuna, free), Donervon Daniels (West Brom, loan), Joe Lewis (Cardiff, loan), John Lundstram (Everton, loan)
Transfers Out*: Thomas Ince (Hull, compensation), Harrison McGahey (Sheffield United, compensation), Mark Halstead, James Caton (both Shrewsbury, free), Chris Basham (Sheffield United, free), Kirk Broadfoot (Rotherham, free), Chris Kettings (Crystal Palace, free), Neal Bishop (Scunthorpe, free), Craig Cathcart (Watford, free), Matt Gilks (Burnley, free), Ricardo Fuller (Millwall, free), Nathan Tyson (Doncaster, free), Michael Chopra, Rob Earnshaw, Barry Ferguson, Elliot Grandin, Tony Warner, Faris Haroun (released)
One To Watch: Karl Oyston (Club Chairman and Co-Owner)
Given the lack of actual playing options it seems more apt to point out Chairman Oyston as the key figure in how Blackpool’s season pans out. The stand-off between Oyston and his manager Riga is a situation that has to change if the season is to bring anything but doom and disaster.
Oyston has done well to break the stand-off that threatened to make Blackpool's opening day line-up a farce, and the business done in the past week may raise the spirits among the Bloomfield Road faithful.
Nevertheless, the most important thing Oyston can do is ensure there is stability on the footballing side of things. When it comes to Riga it is 'back him or sack him' time because the longer the feud persists the more likely it will spell doom for the Tangerines.
Selected Odds: Champions 200-1; Promotion 66-1; Relegation 7-10 fav
Opening Fixtures: Nottingham Forest (A), Blackburn (H), Brentford (H)
*Correct at the time of writing
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