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View from the South Stand - Blackpool 20/08/11

Brighton and Hove Albion are looking for their fourth league victory on the spin  but face a tricky fixture against newly relegated Blackpool.

We asked Peter Gillatt from Balckpool FC fansite It’s Not Orange, It’s Tangerine! to answer some questions for us.

Blackpool in the Premier League. Just how good was last season?
Blackpool fans of old, who have been through the highs and but mainly lows of the past forty years, will state without question that the achievements of Holloway and his squad on the 22nd May 2010 will go down in club history, beating Cardiff City 3 – 2 to gain promotion to the dizzy heights of the Premier League. It was simply fantastic especially as the media didn't love us when we came up - they described us as the worst team ever to grace the Premier League before a ball was kicked. When Michael Owen finished off our resistance at Old Trafford on survival Sunday there was a passing sadness (and it would have been wonderful to stay up) that we may never get another chance to grace this level again. But you do have to look at how far we've come. Four sided ground, financially secure, great manager. A club that has challenged not only on the pitch, but thanks to Holloway, off it as well. Whether you like it or not he at least he used his elevated status to ask important questions about the game, how it is run and where the power lies. The Good News? No-one will call us 'a breath of fresh air' anymore.

You've risen from the bottom tier to the top just as the Albion are trying to do, but while we've been splashing a fair bit of cash to do so, you've done it with no big names and no massive outlay. What's the secret to that sort of success?
Holloway set a dangerous precedent, not least for himself. Blackpool's famously low wage ceiling of £10,000 per player per week means signing established Premier League players was an impossibility (Marlon Harewood, the one recruit who may belong in that category, almost joined League One Huddersfield instead). Yet by casting his net far and wide, Holloway has found footballers who seem motivated by getting a chance that no one else would have granted them. And, given Blackpool's limited budget, it highlights a disparity in means. While it is easy to dismiss lower-league footballers by suggesting they lack the quality the Premier League requires, Blackpool have played with a verve that indicates men like Charlie Adam, David Vaughan and DJ Campbell possess more ability than was acknowledged before their arrival and the same could be said for Wes Hoolahan now in the Premier League with Norwich who Simon Grayson picked up from Livingstone. Holloway's ingenuity in finding the unwanted and the unknowns does him credit, but lends itself to a worrying conclusion for some managers: big money and big salaries aren't required. If he can do it, the question may be posed to his counterparts, why can't you?

Despite the predictions of doom, you came very close to surviving. Did you think that would be the case at the start of the campaign, and in the end was there dissapointment that the Premier League dream had come to an end after one season?
Blackpool's promotion was utterly unexpected, both outside Bloomfield Road and inside it. To some it appeared a poisoned chalice, albeit one sweetened by the Premier League millions; memories of Derby's dreadful 11-point season in 2007-08 intimated an endless possibility of embarrassment for clubs who were not ready for the top flight. Instead, it has provided an opportunity to impress. What Blackpool did achieve, was captivating a nation. Rarely before had an underdog attacked the world’s best league with such vigour, and rarely before had a group of players shown such togetherness. Never before had a group of players, many of whom had come from the Conference only years before, stood up to the footballing heavy weights and on occasions won. The crowning achievement of Blackpool’s ten months in the Premier League was undoubted securing the double over five time European Cup winners Liverpool. Blackpool FC were a revelation to the Premier League, with a straight talking manager and no nonsense attitude to the game, he won plaudits from across the footballing world, both fans and professionals alike.. The Championship is a division where as many as two-thirds of teams may kick off with optimistic thoughts about reaching the play-offs, but Blackpool have offered a reason to inflate expectations. It may encourage supporters of smaller clubs but it is less heartening for managers in a division that normally has a high casualty rate. If the extraordinary is anticipated, they have a problem with expectations.

Blackpool run an extremely tight financial ship, with the dispute in the summer over bonuses being reported as having upset Ian Holloway a little bit. Do you think that the board should release some funds given what he has achieved so far?
With parachute payments, we are back in the `Championship, with a far better ground, and a bigger fan base. This year has been positive - for us, for the club, for football. We won friends because we played good football, with skill, character and heart. The worry for Holloway himself might be that his terminally tight board expect similar underfunded overachievement again. While there might be some reflected credit, the reality is that Holloway is excelling in spite of his board, not because of them.

You've been pretty shrewd in the transfer market with both Barry Fergusson and Kevin Phillips coming in, although one of WeAreBrighton.com's favourite world flair players in Richard Kingson has scandalously been released. What have the new guys brought to the party and are they suitable replacements for DJ Campbell and Charlie Adam?
The midfield is of concern whether we can replace our two best players Adam and Vaughan is a big ask and what I've seen so far it's going to be very difficult. Barry Ferguson comes with some quality and we know that Keith Southern won't let anyone down if he's allowed to play to his strengths but the big question is where does the spark come from? Up front, the only player I'm happy about is Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Blackpool's signing of veteran striker Kevin Phillips may have grabbed the headlines, but it could certainly prove to be one of the shrewdest moves of the summer. "You cannot put a price on people like Kevin Phillips," Holloway admitted this weekend. "He's scored goals throughout his career and if he does it throughout this season for us, we'll make a real statement in this league." Phillips has been signed to be a leading striker but it's a gamble although young Matt Phillips could be a real star player for us . I have no idea of how I think we'll play and it will be interesting to see whether we have any potential to challenge. But at the moment, potential is all it is.

Do you think that Blackpool will ever sustain Premier League football for more than the odd season?
It is now a pivotal period in Blackpool’s history, and how they cope with the upset of relegation and the loss of players with such pedigree only time will tell. Teams in the past have crumbled facing this task, you only have to look at the examples of Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Bradford City to realise how easy it is to slowly slip down the football leagues, with the Premier League becoming a distant memory. What is important for Holloway and his players is to learn from the experiences of the Premier League. Although Holloway’s attacking football was admired and respected, there were distinct flaws in this mentality, and had more tactical sense been used at times, Blackpool may have not dropped points which looked destined to be taken back to Bloomfield Road. You would imagine though that under the leadership of Holloway and with the core of Blackpool’s determined squad still together, they are likely to be challenging to taste the delights of the Premier League again once more, and with the right investments we could once again be able to jump back on Blackpool’s roller-coaster in the Premier League in the coming years.

What are the expectations around Bloomfield Road for this season?
The Championship is a division where as many as two-thirds of teams may kick off with optimistic thoughts about reaching the play-offs, but Blackpool have offered a reason to inflate expectations. It may encourage supporters of smaller clubs but it is less heartening for managers in a division that normally has a high casualty rate. If the extraordinary is anticipated, they have a problem with expectations. The media focussed on Charlie Adam, but in fact real fans will also speak of David Vaughan, Ian Evatt, Alex Baptiste, Matthew Gilks, DJ Campbell, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and a host of others who have thrilled us. Can we play football? Ask Liverpool, or Newcastle, or Spurs. Of course this team has now changed. Some have gone, and they have been wonderful. Others will step up to the plate. The conversations about Holloways transfer budget will doubtless take an interesting twist - throwing money around has never been our style, but the truth is that we are far better placed now than we were two years ago. That two years has given us memories beyond compare, and for that I am enormously grateful but I'm looking forward to the new season loads of new players ; the luxury of not being the novelty item wherever we go. It's going to be very enjoyable and I'm genuinely excited to be playing in a league in which I feel we can challenge

How much do you know about Gus Poyet's Brighton and Hove Albion?
Despite the focus being on the Hammers and the Foxes I always thought both Southampton and Brighton would be capable of achieving something and you have led the field early on. A narrow win against Doncaster and at Portsmouth may have gone largely unnoticed but that 3-1 win at Cardiff City last Wednesday was a result we took notice of and shows you are not here just to make up the numbers. With the charismatic Gus Poyet and your new stadium you already have that momentum that may well take you straight up to the top flight. A great signing for you as has already got off the mark was Mackail-Smith and whilst I noticed that Ashley Barnes secured a brace in midweek. One thing about playing teams with 100% records is that they have to be broken at some point as we found out against Derby County on Wednesday when we lost ours. After a such a frustrating result I’m wondering if we still have that resilience which has got us through the last couple of years and whether our form on the road suggests we can put a dent in Brighton's unbeaten run.


Blackpool fans made quite a name for themselves last season. How many do you expect to bring down and are you looking forrward to your first Amex visit?
Personally, I think we'll take around 1500 and that will be a good following in view of the distance ,but it’s also a new ground etc and the interest should be there. The novelty and limited supply of tickets in the Premier League meant most games were sold out for Pool fans lasts season. However, we're not premier league anymore and we're back to being little Blackpool but away following can be decent for a club of our size.

Who do you tip for promotion and relegation from the Championship this season?
Promotion favourites should be one of the clubs that came down, you can probably add Southampton and Leicester in there as well, but it's really too early to tell. As for those that will struggle, Coventry look poor, maybe Doncaster and Barnsley.

Finally, what do you think the result between the two on Saturday will be?
I think the defeat on Wednesday will give Ollie the opportunity to shake things up. He usually will not change a winning side but against Derby despite having the majority of play and chances we lacked any spark upfront so I would expect to see some fresh faces in the side and he will give starts to possibly 1-2 players with perhaps some new faces on the bench as well. Pool rode their luck at Hull on the opening day of the season and will need to be at their best on Saturday, a draw would be a decent result for us and I would take that now if it was offered.

Many thanks to Peter for his insight into the forthcoming fixture!


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