With Blackpool more or less down, the fans are disgruntled to say the least and anger has been aimed at Lee Clark. He feels the criticism has been unfair but fans fed up of losing do not see it that way.
Clark was appointed after popular figure Jose Riga – who is now manager of ten-time Belgian champions Standard Liège – was sacked by chairman Karl Oyston. Clark has seen his Blackpool side muster just three wins in four months, which sees them rooted to the bottom of the Championship table and left them struggling to get off the bottom.
Blackpool were the laughing stock at the start of the season as they had only eight players on their books and cancelled their pre-season tour as a result. However, under Riga they were able to bring in some more faces and develop a squad, but when Clark came in he brought in even more new players.
Far too much personnel change
Blackpool has been like a revolving door. Clark decided to get rid of a lot of Riga's signings for little reason. Clark has brought in more than enough of his own players, albeit mainly loan players, for Blackpool to be judged as his club now.
From the squad against Wigan on Saturday, eight out of the 15 played some part under Riga. Clark has brought in 19 players since his arrival and let nine players leave – four leaving on loan. A further nine players have ended their loans or finished their short-term contract with club.
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Blackpool still have several players such as Jeffrey Rentmeister, Tomasz Cywka and World Cup finalist Jose Cubero rotting in the reserves. Many fans are still wondering why Cubero is not being played as he impressed for Costa Rica in Brazil but is deemed not good enough for a manger who kept Birmingham up with the last kick of the game last season.
Clark needed to keep a solid team and make his intentions clear from the start regarding fringe players rather than leave the fans wondering, why if these players are not playing why are they at the club?.
Too defensive and not good enough in defence
Blackpool under Clark have gone out to keep clean sheets but more often than not found themselves conceding sooner rather than later. Clark's Blackpool have kept just three clean sheets and coincidently it is the three wins they have.
However, it is a big gamble to rely on a defence who have conceded 68 goals in the league this season. Blackpool have chopped and changed their defence this season but Clark is set on a defence recently Charles Dunne, Tom Aldred, Darren O'Dea and captain Tony McMahon.
There are obviously changes due to frequent injuries and frequent suspensions. The defence that Clark is set on is probably not good enough for League One. Dunne's concentration levels seem to be at a low the minute he comes onto the pitch and captain McMahon seems to have an obsession with taking the man rather than the ball.
Their have been far too many centre-half pairings this year so Blackpool have not been able to keep a consistent strong hold at the heart of the defence. Fan favourite Peter Clarke has had to make way recently for new signings despite his experience in the Championship and relegation battles. It raises questions over Lee Clark's ability.
Blackpool, albeit it might be a little too late, need all three points in games yet Lee Clark had all men back for a corner in the 70th minute agaisnt Blackburn when they were drawing 1-1. Where is the ambition to catch Blackburn on the counter to pick up all 3 points? Nowhere, thats where. Blackpool will not stay up with the odd point here and there. Too be fair they are not staying up without a miracle.
When Blackpool do some how muster an attack together they find options limited as it is usually hoofed up field to Gary Madine and failing that Dom Telford who is approximately 5ft9in. Blackpool failed to move the ball out a wide and quickly. Most of the time David Perkins and Jamie O'Hara are left in the middle looking for options and the only one is back.
The only shining light for Clark and Blackpool is Joe Lewis who has been by far Blackpool's best player this term but Clark even dropped him in place of Elliot Parish. Clark later stated in a Blackpool Gazette interview that the axe was what Lewis needed, despite more than several excellent performances.
Blackpool fans were not entirely convinced with Clark when he arrived. He stated he was not going to be pushed around by Oyston but he does seem to throw in the strange decision now and then which catches fans off guard.
Clark has ridiculed the claim that he is a puppet of Oyston's but did not help himself by attacking the fans in recent interviews.
Clark told the Blackpool Gazette last week he was no Oyston puppet and added; “I’m not arguing with supporters. I respect them immensely. Whatever they think, I'm with them 100 per cent.
“I’m just here to try to help their club and I’m working very hard.
“I’ve made decisions at the football club and left out senior players who in my opinion had put the club in a difficult position. I’ve replaced them with young players who care about this club and who the fans should take to their hearts."
“They can rest assured I have dialogue with the chairman but he has no influence at all in picking the team."
These words seem to have landed of deaf ears as fans stay away from Bloomfield Road and moan at away games.
It is not all Lee Clark's fault
Obviously, Blackpool have greater problems at the club but that is a discussion for another day. However, Lee Clark has had to deal with a lot since his arrival. Many injuries have disrupted his squad, the players ability is far from good enough for the Championship and the pitch is in a such a mess there is no way Blackpool can play nice football but sure can heard some cows.
Clark has come to Blackpool to try and save them but ultimately it looks like he is going to fail as 'The Pool' look destined for League One, five years after they graced the promised land of the Premier League.
He can not take all the blame as the players have simply not performed to the standard of the league and they will have to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if they want to keep Blackpool in the Championship. However, you have to question the ambition and passion of players who are on loan and short-term contracts at the club as they know they will not be at Bloomfield Road come the end of the season so next season does not affect them.
Lack of attacking mentality has hurt Blackpool this season as they have been become this year's whipping boys. If you look at the side Blackpool had when they got promoted they did not posses world class talent but the right leadership, as Ian Holloway got the best out of players such as Ian Evatt, Keith Southern and the man who put Blackpool in the Premier League Brett Ormerod.
Blackpool fans are not demanding Premier League football but they want Blackpool to be a solid Championship squad who will challenge for the play offs and have the ambition to be back in the Premier League sometime soon but that looks a long way off and even further now their relegation looks certain.
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