Opinion: Bloomfield Road Clear Out

Some weeks can be slower than others. That’s definitely been the case for Blackpool recently. After an initial flurry of early transfer business, things on the Fylde coast have quietened down – at least on the incomings. However, there have been some departures from Bloomfield Road.

Following Ryan Hardie’s loan move to Plymouth Argyle, Ryan Edwards was the latest figure to depart from the real tangerines to head north for Scottish tangerines (Dundee United). After Edwards and the club agreed to a contract termination to allow him to link up with fellow Seasider Micky Mellon. Edwards was originally signed by Terry McPhillips and found himself out of favour under Grayson, especially after the addition of loaners Taylor Moore and Ben Heneghan.

Now it’s looking increasingly likely that Blackpool will need at least two centre backs and two centre midfielders with the squad looking a little bare again. The Seasiders were reportedly in for defensive midfielder Anthony Grant who recently signed a new one year contract with Swindon Town.

That has caused some fans to start panicking now that things have gone quiet, following initial success in the transfer window – but we must keep our heads and trust in the recruitment system.

We take a look at the players who have left Blackpool and speculate on potential reasons why.

Armand Gnanduillet

He was offered a new deal with Blackpool but decided to search elsewhere. The club’s top goalscorer last season, Armand felt he could get a deal in the Championship. With Charlton, Preston and Cardiff all mentioned and linked to Gnands, it shouldn’t be too much longer until he is signed up.

Jay Spearing

Last year’s club captain Spearing was also offered new terms at Blackpool but was likely a contract which wasn’t as long as the captain had hoped. Given Ollie Turton only signed a one-year deal, it’s likely that the 31-year-old offer was a similar length, while there may also have been some downward movement on his wages, given the ongoing situation with COVID-19 and the potentially imminent wage cap restrictions. A loyal servant to the Pool, you can’t blame Jay for looking elsewhere for a better deal. Whilst, this isn’t a huge concern for Blackpool fans given his capabilities are replaceable, it is still another position to fill and we have lost his leadership on and off the field.

Ryan Hardie

In an earlier piece we looked at the debate around Hardie and questioned whether it would be worth holding on to the striker when Pool have so many options upfront. From watching footage on his unveiling and reading his tweets since the deal was done, Hardie seemed set on returning to Home Park and you can hardly blame him. He scored 7 goals in 13 appearances with the Pilgrims and became a fan favourite with Argyle fans – a connection that he hasn’t managed to get with us Pool fans yet.

Initially linked under Terry McPhillips, Hardie’s deal was completed shortly after the appointment of Simon Grayson for a fee of around £200k from Rangers.

A few of us may feel let down, but as we have learnt from the past it is best to get the right atmosphere within the changing room and ensure all of the players want to be here. The team spirit needs to be right and we need players at Blackpool fighting for the shirt – something we know can work only too well. At 23, Hardie will surely be worth more than double the rumoured £200k Plymouth were bidding this summer if he can score goals at this level. We can then make a decision on whether we put him back into the side or sell for a higher fee. A loan therefore works for all parties on this one given he wasn’t going to be a regular starter.

Ryan Edwards

Another Ryan that just didn’t work out, although this time we bought him from Plymouth. In this case the ‘we’ was Terry McPhillips again and at the time it seemed a sound purchase at this level. He initially built up strong performances with Tilt at the back which saw Blackpool rise to top of the League One table. However, performances seemed to lack consistency and Edwards found himself out of favour with Grayson as our form started to take a dip.

The fact Blackpool decided to terminate Edwards’ contract and to not try to get a fee for the 26-year-old speaks volumes. Either the club just wanted to cut its losses, or he had high wages which Dundee United were unable to match and the player wanted to go. Whichever it was, it seems clear that Edwards wanted first team football and wanted to go somewhere where he was believed in and rated. Mellon was definitely a believer in his abilities having tried to sign him previously whilst he was at Tranmere Rovers.

It’s positive to see that an ‘average League One defender’ isn’t deemed good enough for Neil Critchley and the new board, and hopefully we see better coming through the door this summer.

Also rumoured to be on their way out

Star Man Liam Feeney

So far this one hasn’t materialised after being rumoured to be in the offing in late July. Again this caused a split decision amongst the Pool fans. Another player that has been rumoured to have high wages, a potential departure would take the pressure off – if there was a wage cap introduced.

Some fans (myself included) have voiced our opinion on the potential significant loss of Feeney. It seems daft to get rid of the asset that Feeney is. He has a pinpoint cross and if the tippy-tappy build-up play isn’t working then we need to find a way to win games, our plan B – something we lacked last year.

When it comes to set pieces, a dead-ball specialist like Feens could provide the delivery into the box with 6ft 4 Marvin Ekpiteta ready to head it in. Something worth noting is how great Wycombe were at their ability to win ‘ugly’ last season and the amount they scored from set-pieces. They had dead-ball specialist Joe Jacobson (11 goals) and a target man they could focus on in Ade Akinfenwa who bagged 10 goals himself, which resulted in them getting past Fleetwood Town in the play-offs before beating Oxford United at Wembley last month.

That said, football is also a business and if Critchley and Ben Mansford decide the cash would be better invested elsewhere then we should trust in the club.

Michael Nottingham

It was initially thought Nottingham’s contract was extended so that Pool could gain a fee for him from Crewe. However, they have since cooled their interest in Nottingham, and rumoured to have said they’d be unable to provide a fee for the player. With Edwards having just left, you’d expect that Nottingham will be next out of the door and you have to hope the club hasn’t made the wrong decision by extending his deal. If he does stick around, he may provide an option as a backup either at centre back or right back.

Jamie Devitt

Having still yet to feature for Blackpool since signing last year, you would expect he is another one to be swiftly shown the door. Jamie has plenty of experience and appearances in League Two, with Bolton and previous club Carlisle rumoured for his signing.

Adi Yussef


Adi signed after his performance against Blackpool in the FA cup with Solihull Motors when his contract expired that year. Adi is another player who has yet to feature for the Seasiders. Last season he was loaned out to his previous club Solihull and also Boreham wood too.

Summary

Overall, we think that the transfer business conducted by Pool (both ways) has been smart. We have collected talented League Two players that have the ability to play at League One – despite anything that Richie Wellens may think. We have let players that were not performing or didn’t want to be here, to leave with no qualms which cannot be underestimated.

We now have the foundations of a strong squad and we’re confident that we will purchase permanent players carefully, and hopefully be able to bring in some loan deals to bolster our squad. The most important thing to take from the club’s transfer activity is that we’ve got five new players in early and training with the squad, which is a far cry from last-minute panic buys we’ve been used to in the past. Only time will tell but surely we will reap the rewards from conducting our transfer business so early.

Have faith Pool fans, trust in the process and do what you can financially to support Blackpool. Whether that’s buying merchandise, ifollow streaming games or buying season tickets. These are hard times, and no one should be judged.

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Published by Dan Hopwood

Life long Blackpool fan, thanks to my older brother for dragging me to Bloomfield Road in days of Colin Hendry! Currently a seaside exile living in London.

2 thoughts on “Opinion: Bloomfield Road Clear Out

  1. To allow Edwards to leave suggests we have a replacement waiting in the wings. That just leaves defensive replacements for Moore, Tilt, Heneghan, Mellor, and Bola! Seriously though, we are very short at the back – in both senses of the word, notwithstanding Ekpiteta. With 1,400 EFL players out of contract there will surely be some bargains to be had, and although the salary cap might temper our ambitions we are in a very strong financial position compared to most in this division.

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