Blackpool hit the jackpot recently with their play-off final victory against Lincoln City to clinch a Championship place. It was a final played by two excellent footballing sides with The Seasiders coming out on top. But what lies ahead for Blackpool in the Championship?
Blackpool In the Championship
The Tangerine’s Flying as High as their Famed Tower
Blackpool recorded an unprecedented sixth play-off promotion. A remarkable feat showing once again the club is the undisputed play-off king and the format is their perfect playground. When Blackpool enter a play-off scenario, they take to it like a duck to water. Waters which are known in the famed seaside resort.
These heady days, Blackpool supporters will be flying as high as their iconic Blackpool Tower. ‘Tower Power’ is often a chant that rings around the club’s Bloomfield Road. And next season, their Tangerine Army will be able to sing that again as they are welcomed back to watch football once again. It is a golden moment in the club’s history – as golden as the Golden Mile stretching along the town’s vibrant promenade.
The Tangerine Dream of the Championship: Seaside Stability
When the majority of supporters were last watching Blackpool, the club has just appointed former Liverpool U23 coach Neil Critchley and were mid-table. Fast forward to now and the supporters return to their stadium a Championship club six years on. There have been many ups and downs like their roller coasters at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. More downs than ups with well-documented upheaval off the field, in the board room and successive relegations.
But now the club have new owners who are fully invested in the club. Chairman Simon Sadler is Blackpool born and bred and is a supporter since childhood. Thanks to his vision and the success of their manager, the club are finally sailing out of murky Black Pool waters and have navigated themselves to that all-important paradise of stability. The club is on the up and seems to have solid foundations on which to build upon. But what does the future hold for the Tangerines?
The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Tangerine
Blackpool enter the Championship on the back of a glorious season. The club finished third after a terrific 2021 surge to their play-off paradise. The club recorded an impressive 26 clean sheets and goalkeeper and club captain Chris Maxwell finished joint first in the country with Manchester City’s Ederson in terms of shutting out the opposition.
Their top scorer was striker Jerry Yates with 23 goals. He provided the power scoring for the team to shine. He will be crucial to keep hold of in retaining their Championship status.
As will the on-loan duo of Daniel Ballard and Ellis Simms. Ballard is a Northern Ireland international and has been on loan from Arsenal. He played in 25 games, scoring two goals. Ballard brought a defensive organisation and leadership to the backline to aid the club’s record clean sheet tally. Meanwhile, striker Simms has been on loan from Everton and figured in 21 games with eight goals.
In the engine room, Kenny Dougall has been one of the teams’ unsung heroes. The box to box midfielder scored twice in the play-off final and was recently called up to the Australian national side. It is a rich reward for his sterling performances in midfield.
Finally, Sullay Kaikai was the team’s top assister with seven. The former Crystal Palace man also chipped in with seven goals in 36 games. It is of great importance that this backbone remains intact to ensure Blackpool are to cope with the rigours of Championship football.
Survival and Growth the Aim for Blackpool in the Championship
Blackpool are a very different club since the last time the club played Championship football. The club is on a much even base and a new training ground is in development. The infrastructure is in place to continue the club’s recent growth.
With Neil Critchley, the emphasis will be on the development of youth, as per his Anfield days. On the field, the club can look forward to trips to Craven Cottage of Fulham and Bramall Lane of Sheffield United. Also, there will be two tasty derbys of Blackburn Rovers and the most eagerly anticipated fixture of duelling against arch-rivals Preston North End – The first fixture all ‘Pool fans will look out for.
In terms of a target for The Seasiders. their summer recruitment policy will be crucial. As importantly will be to retain their key performers. Should Blackpool strike that balance right, then there is every chance that Blackpool can steer themselves to safety without much to worry about.
With the club performing so well both in defence and attack and on the evidence of this season, Blackpool look well-equipped to enjoy the ride and finish relatively comfortably above the relegation places. The model to look upon will be of Luton Town, who enjoyed a terrific season, finishing in 12th position.
It is maybe too much to ask for in their first season back to attain that lofty position. But somewhere between the 15th and 18th position should be a realistic aim. Above all, success will be finishing in 21st or above and out of the relegation zone.
Blackpool supporters sing ‘This is the best trip I’ve ever been on’, about their memorable Premier League voyage of 2010/11. The loyal tangerine army have another adventure to look forward to.