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[Archived] Preview of ROVERS vs. Blackpool; 19 March 2011.

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Because there's no match this Saturday and because I've had this ready for a while [i was just waiting for the result of Blackpool vs. Chelsea to update the "form table"], I thought I'd post it now to see what comments it provokes. I apologise in advance for its length; it's my first Preview; so please go easy on me!

There are three reasons for its length: I’m naturally verbose; I’m early-retired with plenty of time on my hands; and I’ve been looking forward to this game much more than any other this season. That’s because I’m the son of two Blackburners who’d moved to Blackpool before I was born. I wouldn’t go as far as saying Blackpool are my “Burnley” [i’ve got good friends who follow them]; but this is the one game I always want us to win well!

And that’s without the pressure the team’s under at the moment. I began work on this while the January 2011 transfer window was open and have been tweaking it ever since.


The Blackpool club we’re playing today was founded in 1887 [although we beat a Blackpool team in Round 1 of the F.A. Cup in 1882-83 by 11-1] and were founder-members of the Lancashire League in 1889/90. They stayed there until joining the Football League, Division 2 in 1896. In 1898/99, they finished in the bottom three and were not re-admitted to Division 2 for the 1899/1900 season, which they spent back in the Lancashire League. They were, however, back in Division 2 for the 1901/2 season.

We played Blackpool in the regional competitions organised during World War 1, and beat them in the 1924-25 F.A. Cup quarter-finals, but didn’t play them in a League game until 1930/31 because, until then, they’d always been a Division below us. They joined us in Division 1, as Champions of Division 2 at the end of the 1929/30 season. In their first two seasons, they finished one place above the relegation zone on each occasion but they were relegated at the end of their third season, 1932/3. In those three seasons, we beat them at Ewood 5-0, 5-1 and 6-5 [!], while our first game at Bloomfield Road ended 1-1, followed by them beating us 2-1 and 3-0. So; honours just in our favour!

Unfortunately, we were also relegated two seasons later so our next League meetings took place in Division 2 in 1936/37, and the home team won 2-0 on each occasion. So, at this stage, our League record against them is still better than theirs against theirs against ours! At the end of that season, they returned to Division 1. We won promotion two years later but didn’t meet them in the 3 games we played before the 1939/40 season was abandoned.

We were only in Division 1 for two seasons after World War 2, and our results were the same in both: a 1-1 draw at Ewood and a 1-0 home win at Bloomfield Road. This put them ahead of us on League results :angry: ; a situation we’ve never been able to reverse.

When we returned to Division 1 in 1958/9 season [my era!], we played them on consecutive Monday nights in September 1958; both games ending in draws. However, we didn’t have the best of League records against them in the eight seasons from 1958/9 and they twice did the League “double” over us, in 1963/4 and our relegation season, 1965/6.

A season later, they joined us in Division 2, where we had three seasons of rivalry, the second of which [1968/9] saw our first-ever League win at Bloomfield Road, before they returned to the top Division for one season. As they came back down to Division 2, we went down to Division 3 so it wasn’t until 1975/6 that we met them again. Again there were three seasons of rivalry in Division 2 before they went down to Division 3 at the end of 1977/8 season, only for us to follow them a season later.

Howard Kendall’s appointment as player-manager meant that we only spent the 1979/80 season in Division 3, which was the last time we played them in the League [home wins for each club again that season]. Until, of course, last September, when we beat them at Bloomfield Road for the first time in the top Division and only the second time ever.

While we were comfortably in Division 2 in the 1980s and early 1990s, they bobbed around the lower Divisions with a couple of stays in what used to be Division 4 [League 2 – how I love reminding my Blackpool-supporting mates of those days!], the low point of which came in September 2000, when a home defeat by Chesterfield meant that they were joint bottom of that Division, above Halifax Town only on goal difference.

Memories from those days include coming over from Blackpool with schoolmates in the 1950s and early 60s, separating from them as we got to the ground, going into the opposite end from them, before the fans from the two teams “crossed” at half-time on the Riverside terraces with banter but no hassle; and the last Christmas Day match which was played in our relegation season, 1965/6, at Bloomfield Road.

One unusual thing about Blackpool are that they’re the only team to go from what I call “Division 4-really” to the Premier League via the play-offs for each Division.


The oldest player to have played for both teams who’s still alive, age 90, is Ron Suart. His League career started with Blackpool as a 26-year-old full back after World War 2 and he joined us after three seasons there. He played for us for 6 seasons from 1949/50 and left us in 1955, to become player-manager at Wigan, then managed Scunthorpe United before replacing Joe Smith as Blackpool manager in 1958, where he was the first former player to be appointed as manager. He stayed there for 9 years before being appointed Chelsea’s manager.

The man who did the half-time draw at Bloomfield Road last September played for both teams. Fred Pickering was one of “Marshall’s Misfits” as Jack Marshall converted him from a full back into a centre-forward who, of course, went on to win international caps in that role. He played for Everton and Birmingham before joining Blackpool in 1969 and re-joined us in 1971 for a short spell near the end of his career.

The team which got to Wembley for the Full Members’ Cup Final in 1987 for our first appearance there since the 1960 F.A. Cup Final included three players who have played for both teams. Vince O’Keefe’s goalkeeping won him the Man of the Match award that afternoon, Alan Ainscow played in midfield, while the only goal of the game was scored by “Oooh, Colin Hendry”! What a day that was; I, and a load of my contemporaries, had finally seen Rovers at Wembley. And we’d won, too; could life get better than that?

Well, yes; actually! :D Just over 5 years later, we were back at Wembley for the play-off against Leicester City, which we won with a Mike Newell penalty, the day after Blackpool had beaten Scunthorpe United 4-3 in the Division 4 [Ah, bless!] play-offs. Newell had played for a few clubs before we signed him from Everton and he played for a few more before ending his career at Blackpool 10 years ago. Another member of that play-off winning team who’s still playing professional football is Alan Wright whom we’d signed from Blackpool. He’s on Fleetwood Town’s books and played against us in the pre-season friendly at Fleetwood last July.

A more recent player who played for both clubs, moving directly from us to them, is the current Leeds United manager, Simon Grayson. He transferred to them in 2002 and took over from Colin Hendry in their manager’s chair 4 seasons later, before leaving them in somewhat controversial circumstances in 2009 to join Leeds.

Blackpool could field two forwards today who’ve played for both clubs: Brett Ormerod, who played in the game last September and recently, when he got ‘Pool’s last goal against Spurs, became the first player to score for the same club in all 4 divisions in England; and James Beattie, who moved on loan from Glasgow Rangers to the ‘Pool just before the recent January transfer window shut.

This is only a brief summary of those players who’ve played for both teams since I first watched the Rovers in the 1950s. If I’d gone into more detail about goalkeepers like Adam Blacklaw, Neil Ramsbottom and Matt Dickens; defenders such as Terry Allcock, Russell Brown, John Curtis, Andy Morrison and Leam Richardson; midfielders including Russell Coughlan, Neil Danns, Jonathan Douglas, Tony Diamond, Chris Thompson and Dave Wagstaffe; or forwards of the order of Kit Napier, Ben Burgess, Stuart Parker, Graham Fenton or Tony Diamond [not to mention versatile players such as Paul Warhurst who played in a number of positions], this preview would have been even longer!

I can’t end this survey without mentioning “Big Sam”. Although he didn’t play for either team, he has, of course managed, and been dismissed in controversial circumstances by, both clubs.


As I said, I have a number of good friends who are Blackpool fans so I’ve taken the opportunity of asking three of them for their views on how they see this season, up to and including today. The first two are young, [to me anyway - in their 20s]: No. 1 is the partner of a Riverside season-ticket holder & member of this Board [no names; no pack drill!]; 2 is the daughter of one of those old schoolmates who came to games with me in the late 1950s/early 1960s. As she’d been invited to a wedding on the day of our game at Bloomfield Road, I blagged her ticket, while No. 3 is another of those old schoolmates who came to games in the late 1950s/early 1960s. He’s now exiled in London but still goes to their games in the capital and some others as well.

I asked each the following questions and got the following replies, some of which I’ve had to précis.

Having won promotion by the play-offs, and having had some sensational results this season, what has been your impression of your Premier League opponents as a general rule?

1] They've been of a much higher quality than the Championship opposition last season. When you're promoted you realise that the Premier League has 'leagues with a league' where the "Top 4" are of a much higher standard than many of the others, especially newly promoted sides.

We did well in the first half of the season when the media and neutrals saw us as the underdog, but now that things are expected of us it has become more difficult. The squad lacks strength in depth so when subs are needed to 'change' a game they are often not up to the same standards as the players our opponents can bring on.

2] We've really shone against the big names, with the exceptions of Arsenal and Chelsea away. The performance at home against Man United, where we really looked as though we belonged in the league - makes me think these teams are not as intimidating as we thought pre-season. That game made me realise the bias of referees though, unfortunately!

3] There is a gap between the top 5/6 teams and the rest of the PL. The style differs from the Championship, in that the ball is retained by all the PL teams for much longer than in the Championship. There is less long ball in the PL, and the ball is in the air less.

Much of the focus on you this season has been on Charlie Adam, but who else should we see as your danger men?

1] Vaughan - alongside Charlie Adam in the centre of midfield he has been responsible for our attacking style of play, as we don't play with a conventional holding player, which can sometimes count against us. DJ - on his day he is fantastic. He's fast, direct and can score in the PL, but all too often he misses chances.

[Like No 3, this was sent to me before Campbell was suspended for our game.]

2] Our teamwork is the strongest point, but David Vaughan is our secret weapon - reads the game brilliantly, accurate passes, fast and a big threat in midfield. [As well as Adam], Neal Eardley is the one to watch for free kicks, [he] has great technique. GTF (Gary Taylor-Fletcher) has improved the most - lots of fans thought he struggled in Championship even, but he has really surprised and met the challenge. Evatt has developed brilliantly and our defence has improved with him.

3] David Vaughan makes the midfield tick. Pool also have pace up front with DJ Campbell and Luke Varney.

And where are the areas where you think your team needs strengthening?

1] Full backs are not up to PL standard and a pacier centre half would help. In an ideal world we'd get a better striker but on the wages we pay that's unlikely.

2] We create so many brilliant chances in front of goal, but the finishing just isn't there unfortunately. Also not conceding in the dying minutes! If it was an 84 minute game, we'd be much higher up the table!

3] Pool have a quality 'keeper in Matt Gilks, but he broke his kneecap in November. Rachubka and Kingson are lightweight. The defence generally comprises individuals rather than a unit. It is Pool's Achilles heel and may yet cost them.

Assuming that you don’t go down this season, do you worry about the second season syndrome” and the likelihood of other Premier League teams having worked you out?

1] Very worried! If we stay up then the likelihood is that we could lose our best players and struggle to replace them with better. Plus some teams are already starting to find us out, which could make it even more difficult.

2] It shows how much the teams we've played recently have 'worked us out' in the way they have responded to our approach. Lots of teams showing us the pre-match respect in the media that we deserve, also the way so many teams put all their men behind the ball when defending our corners, which still surprises us at matches! Not worried about 'second season syndrome' at all - this is the best trip we've ever been on, and I'm sure if we're unfortunate enough to go down, the positive belief of the team and fans will get us back up to the top again.

3] Pool had no expectation in the PL, so play with no fear. They can slice through ANY defence at this level, but can't keep them out. They should have brought in a quality Centre -back. Holloway’s style represents his philosophy. He will continue to attack. He says that draws will not keep you in the PL. He sold a CH to Cardiff, and brought in three forwards. He thinks like that!

How do you see this game going?

1] An optimistic draw.

2] Tough, but winnable!! Always look on the seaside of life! Seriously though, the positivity that Ollie breeds is what's got us where we are today.

3] If Rovers stand toe to toe with B'pool in an open game they'll be shot down! All [we] have to do is to keep it tight, and wait for a Pool player at the back to do something daft. [We] will have much more chance if [we] try to "win ugly".


So there you have it – if we keep our shape against their pace up front, we can achieve our first-ever League Double over them and get the three points we need much more desperately than seemed likely when I began work on this Preview.

We also need to watch them at dead-ball situations, because they’re among the Premier League leaders in scoring from set-plays.

We’ve surely done the harder part, winning away. Can any of us who were at Bloomfield Road last September forget Charlie Adam’s great goal [i loved the way he lost his marker in the box! :D ] and Brett’s 92nd-minute winner, scored at the end where, surrounded by Blackpool fans, I was sitting?

The current “form table” [last 6 games] makes worrying reading for both teams. Following a miserable start to 2011, Pool had a mini-revival, while we’ve had anything but! Both teams are currently joint-bottom of the Premier League Form Table and the only crumbs of comfort I can find are that:

• we’re above them on goal difference both in the form table and the proper one;

• we’ve gained more points [8] from our last 6 home games than the 6 that ‘Pool have got from their last 6 away games; and

• Pool haven’t kept a clean sheet since they beat Sunderland 2-0 on 28th December.

Whaddya mean; clutching at straws?! :rolleyes:

So which team do we put out? For me, assuming all are fit, it’d be:


Salgado; Samba; Nelsen; Olsson;

J. Jones;

Emerton; Pederson; Hoillet;

M.B.Diouf; Santa Cruz.

Substitutes: Bunn; Nelsen, Hanley, Nzonzi, Rochina, Roberts, Kalinic. I’d normally start with Kalinic & RSC up-front, but with Blackpool having a dodgy defence, I’d prefer M.B. Diouf’s pace.

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Good preview.

A real 6 pointer this game, have to win it to keep the gap between us and the sides below us especially the likes of West Ham and Wolves who are starting to build up some winning momentum.

I don't see how anyone can feel positive about us getting a positive result. Blackpool are fighting for their lives as well and have the creative players at their disposal to trouble anyone. Adam should be back in a midfield that centrally is superior to anything we can put on the pitch.

And so it comes down to the prediction...

I have no confidence in Kean's selections or tactics especially up front and no confidence whatsoever in the players to step up and show some fighting spirit. With that being considered I'm going for a 3-1 loss. Rovers to get the first goal but let in an equaliser just before HT. Second half sees Blackpool taking the lead after 15 mins, and whilst we are pushing for an equaliser we get killed on the counter.

Let's hope I am wrong.

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This is the sort of game Sam would have loved with his tactical genius - let Blackpool play their open game but shut the defensive door 25 yards from goal and then hit them on the break with long balls targeted at their weakest players. A 3-1 win under Sam but with Captain Ed Smith at the helm Rovers to founder 3-1 on the Blackpool rocks.

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This is the sort of game Sam would have loved with his tactical genius - let Blackpool play their open game but shut the defensive door 25 yards from goal and then hit them on the break with long balls targeted at their weakest players. A 3-1 win under Sam but with Captain Ed Smith at the helm Rovers to founder 3-1 on the Blackpool rocks.

Allardyce is a "tactical Genius" now. OMG.

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Our full backs are going to need to be right on their game for this one. If we bomb forward then Blackpool will hurt us because they play so direct to their wide men. It pains me to say it, but Roberts could be a real plus for us here. His persistant closing down of the opposition center halves means the short pass to Adam won't always be an option. Stop Adam making long raking passes and it'll take away large amounts of their counter attack.

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the thing is there only seems to be two options for our defenders: either stand there like total idiots and allow the opposition to do what they want, or foul someone and concede a penalty. It's like they have completely forgotten what just clearing the ball means. It's come to the point where you seriously have to question why they are being payed every week.

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Great preview.

What will be critical in this game is NOT playing Olsson at LB in Givet's absence. I'd put Salgado there and bring Emerton in at RB. We will need Olsson and Hoilett on the wings to keep Blackpool pegged back because of their pace.

We need a win, they need a win- both sides are capable of winning; this has draw written all over it.

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Needless to say - must win.

I'm with Philip. Keep Olsson on the wing.


Emmo Samba Nelsen Salgado

Junior Jones Pesersen Olsson

Kalinic RSC

Bunn Hanley Roberts Diouf Formica Rochina N'Zonzi

I don't want to see Andrews or Grella near the lineup, and I think Roberts should only come on late, if at all. I'm not convinced by Diouf and don't trust him in front of goal at all.

I think we need to start MGP. He's not in great form, but he's got he ability to turn a game.

Granted they are different players, but I probably have more faith in N'Zonzi than Jones too, but I think Jones keeps his spot.

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Great preview.

What will be critical in this game is NOT playing Olsson at LB in Givet's absence. I'd put Salgado there and bring Emerton in at RB. We will need Olsson and Hoilett on the wings to keep Blackpool pegged back because of their pace.

Agree with this 100%. got to play Olsson on the wing. Salgado I'm sure can do a job at left back.

We need a win, they need a win- both sides are capable of winning; this has draw written all over it.

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Did I read somewhere that young Phil Jones is due back from injury some time soon? If thats the case then that would certainly aid some of our defensive woes.

Regardless of that, playing Olsson on the wing is a must and not in defence.

I'm going for a 1-2 victory for the Rovers, though I'm not sure if thats my heart ruling my head! unsure.gif

Oh, forgot to mention... Cracking preview m1st.

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Watching Blackpool last night I notice they had at least one defender very deep, almost sweeper like, for that reason and the lack of pace in Blackpools back four I would play with lots of width and one man pushing up on the centre back/sweeper, he wont like that and he's not the quickest in the world either. Also note here that the Blackpool full backs, according to their fans are not prem quality, so this is our strength against their weakness!!

I am not too impressed with their keeper either and he needs testing, his positional play his not good and his starting position last night was very average for a prem keeper.

Then we have to shore up midfield, Adam and vaughan are their strengths and Campbell up front is nippy, so we need to keep on top of him too.

As someone has already mentioned, they do swiitch play quite well with long balls to wide areas, so whilst we attack with pace down the flanks, we must ensure they dont catch us on the break by being organised and disciplined as this is where we are struggling at the moment.

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Great preview and no need to apologise for the lenght of it. That was a great read! Here's hoping for a clean sheet, a Rovers win and that Roberts and Andrews will be nowhere near Ewood on the day....as if...

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Excellent preview.

Needless to say, a must win game, however, my concern is that with almost two weeks to go to the match, our 'thinking manager' might just have too much thinking time and we will be even more muddled!!!

I think there will be a few goals and I just hope that we come through even by the odd goal.

My head says that Holloway might just psyche Kean and Rovers out of this one.

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Thanks for the great preview. In all the discussions about the merits of the Blackburn End or Darwen End I was thinking about how we used to change ends at half time and shout abuse at the opposition fans as we met on the Riverside. When did that stop? About 1965? Imagine sets of fans meeting like that nowadays. My nickname at school was Fred - for Fred Pickering and - here's a quiz for older fans - who was the other Fred in the team at that time?

Enough nolstagia - though it can be a bit of a comfort in present circumstances...

If ever there was a must win game this is it. It's essential that the players, management team ( such as it is)and fans pull together for the last games of the season or nostalgia will be all we're left with.

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My nickname at school was Fred - for Fred Pickering and - here's a quiz for older fans - who was the other Fred in the team at that time?

Goalkeeper Fred Else ?

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Loved the preview. How its going to be a long wait till 3pm on the 19th

Nerves will be shot to pieces by then.

I am just hoping we put out a team that can win this game.

I feel we need to use the pace that we have. Only going to be one side really unless kean has another plan for the LB role other than martin.

Can we play junior on the left and m.diouf on the right ?? would that work ?? will that leave us shy of cover for salgado if phillips gets the run on him ??

does that mean we line up with a 4-3-3 basic formation.




Diouf - Hoilett

Santa Cruz

Do many of you feel that line up is wrong in leaving out j.j. I just think that we need somebody to stick to charlie adam and try to stop him making up the play as much as we can.

so many questions, who'd be a manager eh ;-)

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