Last Saturday Cardiff brought Blackpool down to earth after a 2-0 defeat at home, the first defeat since April at Bloomfield Road. Last night’s game was time to make amends and to try and get back on track but it wasn’t to be – another defeat and another game without a goal to cheer. We’re back with Five Good, Five Bad to highlight the positives and negatives of the game.
1. Magnificent Maxwell
With many of our fan base questioning the capabilities of some of our players making the step up, one man has done that seamlessly and has probably missed out on some well deserved praise. Captain, leader, keeper Chris Maxwell has been superb, making multiple saves to keep Blackpool in games. His distribution looked a little off in preseason but since has been fast, direct and with an urgency to get on the front foot.
2. Serendipitous Striker
He has a knack of being in the right place at the right time doesn’t he? Shayne Lavery was immense last night at getting into scoring opportunities and hassling defenders. The link-up play with Josh Bowler, with both having played in Everton’s youth team, really showed as they were our two best players again last night. If something was going to happen, you could be sure one of those two would be involved. So it was great to see them start and reward the faith the fans and Critchley had in them. Our best chances came from Lavery working hard, the early yellow may have knocked his confidence, so those chances were spurned but if he can continue to find himself in these positions then future goals definitely will come.
3. Bounding Bowler
He’s got some great feet, lovely touches and is now starting to find the final ball which is making him a real threat going forward. The link-up with Lavery as I have already mentioned is very strong and having both on the pitch will benefit our attacking outlet. Earlier on in the season he went for glory a few times, but it’s nice to see him now getting his head up and looking to secure assists as well as goals – to add to the one he made for Lavery on the opening day.
4. Strengthening Squad
One thing to remain positive about, is the fact that we have players to come back from injury – Kevin Stewart in particular will be an important addition – he will walk straight back into our midfield. We also have Demi Mitchell, Gary Madine, Daniel Gretarsson and Matty Virtue to come back. In terms of recruitment, I think we are currently missing 4/5 players. It’s clear we need to strengthen at RB and for me, cover is needed at LW, CM and if possible another forward too. It still amazes me that we won’t take a gamble on Simms, with reports suggesting he is back back in mid-September, as he has been the most clinical striker in terms of finishing, that I have witnessed at Bloomfield Road in a long time. We miss him and the other loanees from last season at the moment.
5. The 12th Man
Blackpool fans – chanting, chanting and some more chanting. Yes, everywhere we go… and it does seem to be the case currently. From a fans’ perspective we are doing everything we can and constantly backing the boys, you can see Critch is dying to celebrate a goal, a win and three points with us. So let’s continue it, we’ve had some hard luck recently so stick at it and hopefully we will get some much needed points on the board soon.
1. Too many players off the pace
We’re not quite up to speed yet and it is showing. The preseason preparations will not have helped with Covid outbreaks, postponed games and recruitment still ongoing, plus the fact that we had the play-offs to contend with. We need to be sharper with our footballing brains, quicker with our feet and confident with the challenges. There were too many second best copouts, missed placed passes (Husband/Keshi/Garbutt in particular) and at some points poor touches or lack of concentration (Connolly).
2. Players out of position
Reece James was completely anonymous in central midfield last night and it showed. We need to figure out if players are really capable of playing in their second or third position at Championship level – it’s a big ask. These are the types of questions that ideally needed answering in preseason as opposed to in the League. We will need to find out quickly, who is capable or who is not. Connolly is arguably the only one who is capable, in my opinion, of playing ‘out of position’ and has been sound at right-back, while not having the attacking capabilities of Jordan Gabriel or Luke Garbutt. James doesn’t work at CM for me, Keshi really isn’t a winger as you lose something in attack by positioning him there and if Hubby is to play CB he needs some more protection as he’s not got the height.
3. Richard Keogh
I heard one fans comments “Milk turns quicker than Keogh”. I have to agree, he had a dreadful night and was pulled apart by Coventry’s Gyökeres. Ironically, I’ve seen Critchley bring off other CBs midway through the game for less, Nottingham springs to mind in last year’s initial start to life in League One. So how Keogh survived the hook at half time, only Critchley knows. Prior to last night, I thought Keogh looked well organised in his first games, but yesterday really showed that he will struggle at this level in terms of pace. His aimless wandering into central midfield and losing the ball had Critchley absolutely losing it on the touch line and rightly so. By all means let him help the younger lads and be an extra voice of reason, but please, don’t put him or us through that pain again.
4. Lacking Desire?
It was frustrating to see a few players not put in the hard work for their defensive duties. Keshi again was one for this. He is a fantastic player and somewhat a luxury at times, a la Kaikai last season, but more is needed in the defensive aspect. A few others who looked disinterested ranged from Luke Garbutt to Reece James. Now is the time to step up lads, put in the challenges – show a bit of steel.
5. Spurned Chances
Lavery should be praised for his efforts last night, but at this level you need to be taking your chances. Yes, the keeper Moore did fantastically well to save some of them, but with one-on-one’s with the keeper you need to be hitting the target. He knows that though as showed by his instant utter disbelief reaction. I have every confidence in the Northern Irish lad to put it right in the next game and take his chances in future.
Not to just single out Lavery too, as the effort in the last kick of the game by CJ should have also been taken. If we don’t start putting the ball in the back of the net, then we are going to be punished. Jerry also seems to be trying too hard to score and making the wrong decision at times – the sooner he gets off the mark, the better. Shooting practice before Saturdays game I think!
We’re three games in, we were here (one point from three) in the 2008 season and survived. Let’s not forget that this is our primary target for this season. We can definitely do it and we have showed some promising spells in games. We just need to ensure consistency and as a fanbase we need to continue to back the boys at every game – which I am sure we will do.
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