Blackpool’s season, and stay in The Championship, came to an end after their 1-0 win against Norwich. It was too little too late for The Seasiders as they finished 23rd, joining Wigan and Reading in League One next season.
It was a season where many things went wrong for Blackpool, some more glaringly obvious than others, while others were simply down to bad decisions being made across the board. Here we look at 5 things that went wrong for Blackpool FC.
After Critchley surprisingly left Blackpool before the start of the season, to join Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, the first thing to do was appoint a new manager.
A number of names were linked with the job, including Liam Rosenior, Rob Edwards and Ian Evatt. Evatt was an obvious one, due to his successful stint with the club during their time in the Premier League.
Rosenior was another appealing name. The young, highly thought of, and knowledgeable manager having his time at Derby being cut short. His play style and managerial style would have fit Blackpool’s vision perfectly.
However, two weeks after Critchley left, the Blackpool board instead decided to go with Michael Appleton, who also managed Blackpool in the 2012-13 season.
Due to his allegiances with Preston, having played over 100 games for them, and his rather unsuccessful previous stint at the club, this decision did little to win over the fans.
The play style never really caught on with the fans, and the lack of a plan B and a willingness to adapt did not help Appleton’s chances with The Tangerine faithful.
Most Blackpool fans never really got behind Appleton, and when results started to turn sour, the ‘Appleton out’ calls grew louder.
One particular decision that had fans calling for his head, was the decision to drop fan favourite goalkeeper Dan Grimshaw, who had impressed the season before. Appleton revealed he dropped Grimshaw due to some ‘indifferent performances’, and instead preferred Chris Maxwell.
Maxwell started well, but eventually the goals started to go in. Appleton stuck with Maxwell, despite his ‘indifferent performances’, opting to leave Grimshaw on the bench still, despite many fans calling for Grimshaw to be put back in the team.
With many fans wanting him gone before the winter World Cup, he received his marching orders midway through January instead, after one win in eleven games.
2. Summer Transfer Window
Despite the poor managerial appointment, Blackpool fans were looking forward to seeing what calibre of players they were going to bring in to strengthen the squad.
The inevitable happened when Josh Bowler moved to Nottingham Forest. The winger had a brilliant back end of the season, and Blackpool had done well to keep him until to end of the transfer window.
It was a big shame to see him leave, but it was to be expected. Forest and Bournemouth were both battling it out for his signature, and the fans were expecting it.
Experienced defender, and fan favourite, Richard Keogh also departed Bloomfield Road. Keogh moved to Ipswich Town, to be closer to his family. A big loss for Blackpool.
Despite losing some key figures, Blackpool did make some good additions, albeit on loan. Morgan Rodgers and Lewis Fiorini both joined from Man City, Charlie Patino arrived from Arsenal, Ian Poveda from Leeds, Rhys Williams from Liverpool and Theo Corbeanu from Wolves.
Blackpool also signed Dom Thompson from Brentford on a permanent deal, and Callum Wright from Leicester on deadline day. All in all, it seemed like a good transfer window for The Seasiders.
However, it was not. There was a lack of experience in the back line and in midfield. The numbers in midfield were far too low, and The Seasiders went into the season with only one recognised right back.
Despite a lot of players being brought in, the wrong ones were brought in. Rhys Williams deemed not good enough after a handful of appearances, and Corbeanu the same, despite scoring some important goals.
Blackpool had been crying out for a creative, attacking midfielder, and for the third transfer window in a row, they had not been granted their wish.
To make things even worse, Blackpool were linked with a plethora of players, all of whom never joined. Cameron Brannigan, linked with Blackpool for the second transfer window in a row, never joined.
As a whole, the transfer window ended in disappointment. A lot of money brought into the club through the sale of Bowler and the compensation money gained from Critchley’s move to Aston Villa, but barely any of this got reinvested.
The window left Blackpool short in multiple positions, and very weak in others.
3. Injury Crisis After Injury Crisis
Every club deals with its fair share of injuries throughout the season, but the injury crisis Blackpool faced throughout the season was unbearable.
Kevin Stewart, one of the better midfielders in Blackpool’s squad, did not play a single game all season due to injury. Jordan Thorniley saw multiple games missed due to a number of concussion injuries.
Lewis Fiorini made a bright start to his loan spell, before being sidelined due to injury for two thirds of the season. Liam Bridcutt, who was brought in during the January transfer window to help deal with the dwindling numbers in midfield, played 4 games before getting injured for the rest of the season.
Tom Trybull who also signed to help increase the numbers in midfield, played 3 games, before being injured for the rest of the season. Keshi Anderson only made 9 appearances due to being injured for most of the season.
Charlie Goode, signed on loan in January, got injured in his second game that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Gary Madine constantly had a reoccurring issue that flared up throughout the season.
At times this season, Blackpool have had to play without a recognised striker, as all 4 strikers at the club have been injured. They have had midfielders filling in as fullbacks, fullbacks filling in as centre backs, wingers filling in as strikers.
Blackpool, throughout the season, have had at least 8-10 players out injured at one time, if not more. Whenever one player was deemed fit to play, another would go off injured in the next game.
These injuries have seriously hampered Blackpool’s ability to play in The Championship, and to avoid relegation. With a fully fit team for most of the season, many feels that Blackpool would have stayed up, comfortably.
Where injuries have not played their role, suspensions have instead. Blackpool, despite not being a typically ‘dirty’ side, received 9 red cards throughout the season, players such as Gary Madine and Marvin Ekpiteta being sent off.
4. January Transfer Window
The January transfer window presented Blackpool with another opportunity to bring the players in that would keep them in The Championship. The Seasiders finally confirmed that Andy Lyons would join the club, a deal agreed earlier on in the season, led to the fullback joining the squad in January.
Experienced midfielder Tom Trybull also joined. A player who had previously spent time with Norwich, and looked like the kind of player Blackpool needed in midfield.
Blackpool also tried to rectify their defensive issues, first by bringing in former Cardiff City defender Curtis Nelson, whilst also signing Charlie Goode on loan from Brentford.
After an unsuccessful spell at Olympiacos, Josh Bowler had his loan spell cut short by Nottingham Forest, and moved back to the seaside to join up with Blackpool on a loan deal until the end of the season.
What looked like a promising transfer window so far, turned into disappointment yet again. Blackpool missed out on Cameron Brannigan, yet again, and failed to sign Dele-Bashiru from Sheffield Wednesday.
The club also failed to sign a striker despite looking at multiple options, and another transfer window went by without an attacking midfielder being looked at.
Understandably, the fans were less than pleased. The players who were brought in, such as Goode and Trybull, impressed, but injuries problems meant that these players hardly featured.
Josh Bowler looked like a shell of his former self, and never hit the heights Blackpool fans were used to seeing. Curtis Nelson gave some very indifferent performances throughout the season also.
5. Mick McCarthy
Michael Appleton received his marching orders midway through January, and so Blackpool began looking for a new head coach again.
The list of names available seemed much less impressive than at the start of the season. With Rosenior doing well with Hull City, Rob Edwards working wonders with Luton Town, and Ian Evatt exceeding expectations with Bolton in League One, Blackpool had to look elsewhere.
The club decided to take a different direction in their managerial decision. They went with an experienced Championship manager, one that has saved many teams from being relegated. The board decided to bring in Mick McCarthy until the end of the season.
The reception from the fans seemed relatively positive. McCarthy would bring some solidarity in the defensive areas, and his assistant, Terry Connor, was brought in to help Blackpool’s front men score goals again.
McCarthy’s reign only lasted 14 games. His short time at the club only saw him win two games, despite playing relegation rivals Huddersfield and Rotherham at home during that time.
9 defeats occurred in those 14 games, the last one being against McCarthy’s former club, a 3-1 loss at home against Cardiff City. Fans grew tired and restless with McCarthy’s ‘fossil football’, or ‘hoofball’, and constantly leaving Blackpool’s better creative players on the bench, such as Poveda and Rodgers.
The defensively stability McCarthy was meant to bring never occurred. In fact, defensively The Seasiders were worse under the former Ipswich manager, and Terry Connor could not get any of Blackpool’s strikers firing either.
It was another disastrous appointment by Blackpool, and one that ultimately sealed their fate. Stephen Dobbie was handed the job on an interim basis, and the results improved instantly.
Under Dobbie, Blackpool looked confident on the ball, and going forward. They beat relegation rivals Wigan at home 1-0, and then they did something they had not done since October, win away from home.
They not only did this once, but twice. They beat Birmingham 1-0 at St Andrews, and then travelled to Carrow Road on the last day of the season to beat Norwich City 1-0.
The 6 games Dobbie took charge of had Blackpool fans wondering whether they would have stayed up if he had been appointed sooner, instead of McCarthy. But it was too little too late.
As a whole, the season have been very disappointing for Blackpool. Relegation back to The Championship has stunted the progress the club has made in recent seasons. But fingers must be pointed at the board and some of the decisions that they have made, especially on the managerial and transfer fronts.
Blackpool will be playing their football in League One next season now, joined by Wigan and Reading. Their aim will be to achieve promotion again at the first time of asking, but the board need to get the managerial decision right, and bring the right players in the help the club move forward.