Blackpool will return to League One next season following their final day victory at home to Gillingham. On the back of their relegation into League Two the previous season they hired rookie coach Bruce Parker to take control and he went on to surpass expectations and bring home the title. After much speculation about him joining other clubs during the season, Parker stayed and signed a new contract as he looks to restore Blackpool to the top of English football.
It was his substitutions during the final game of the season which helped Blackpool to overtake Portsmouth and clinch the title with seven minutes remaining. The side was 2-1 behind with 20 minutes remaining when he brought on 35-year-old free signing Glen Murray and pushed three strikers up front. Murray levelled the match with his first involvement before providing the assist for top scorer Jack Redshaw to win the game.
League Two player of the year Redshaw finished the campaign with 30 goals in 44 league appearances. That was three more than Portsmouth Callum Saunders, winning Redshaw the golden boot. He was the only Blackpool player to feature in the team of the season, but considering no side had more than one player shows how close the league was. It is a stark difference from the start of the season where Redshaw found himself starting games from the bench.
The manager of the season Parker preferred youth prospect Dave Pearce and Danny Philliskirk in attack following an impressive preseason. Pearce was given his opportunity in the first team and showed early signs of promise but his season was hampered by a succession of injures, the last being a broken leg of which he is still recovering. Pearce still scored 10 goals in 24 appearances for the Seasiders, providing six assists also in his role as target man. The injuries have hurt Pearce’s development a little but he should still remain a feature of the side this season.
Blackpool made a late charge for the title by losing just two of their 18 league games since February. At the turn of the year the side was as low as 6th in the league and were finding goals hard to come by but a run of eight home wins in 10 helped keep the momentum and gain promotion.
They will be joined in League One next season by Portsmouth, Walsall and Swindon who beat Forest Green in the playoffs. Charlton Athletic, MK Dons and Wigan drop out of the Championship to make next season a highly competitive one.
Blackpool will likely stick with the same tactic they had during the last season, a narrow 4-3-1-2 but they will surely need to strengthen their defence as they will no longer be amongst the strongest sides in the league. It was their attacking and direct football which saw them have the joint highest goal difference in the league.
The side will be looking to strengthen ahead of the new season to avoid making a premature return to the league below. Last season Parker played the loan game very well and brought in quality additions to help fill the squad. There are few rumours coming out of Bloomfield Road at the moment but they have signed 18-year-old Victor Oliseh on a free transfer. The young Nigerian centre midfielder looks like one for the future but with great passing and ball wining attributes he has the potential to develop into a good player.
Preseason has just begun and Blackpool look forward to a busy calendar to prepare themselves for the new season. Boss Parker said “we need to be ready and focused for the season ahead. I have opted for a mix of winnable fixtures and ones which will really test us. Last year we performed well against Premier League opposition and we look forward to welcoming Brugge, Watford and Liverpool.”
Blackpool’s season will begin away at Peterborough who missed out on promotion to the Championship by a point last year. Their first home game will be the EFL Cup encounter against Burnley who finished bottom of the Premier League, before welcoming Bradford City to kick off their home league campaign.
Join us next time when we will have up to date news as Blackpool look to make a positive start to the League One season.