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FOR THE second season running, Blackpool ended with devastation as they were this time denied an immediate return to the Premier League.
The 2010/11 season had seen ‘Pool, darlings of the top-flight, relegated after a blistering start and, despite giving West Ham a real game, Ian Holloway’s outfit were beaten at Wembley in May.
So once more the task for the enigmatic Holloway is to rally the troops and go again. Tasked with promotion to the promised land once more, Holloway’s side should avoid the hangover they suffered at the beginning of last season, something which will be crucial in the final reckoning.
Strengths: Keeping last season’s side together.
Following relegation from the top-flight, Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell and David Vaughan all left for pastures new. Neal Eardley was in contract dispute with the club and as a culmination of everything, the general mood at the club suffered. That won’t be the case this season.
Weakness’: Loss of stop-gap players.
Holloway utilised the loan market extremely well last season, adding quality on short-term deals with the likes of Tresor Lomano Lua Lua, Roman Bednar, Callum McManaman, Nouah Dicko, Jonjo Shelvey and Danny Wilson. Blackpool will suffer for losing that ability.
Best business so far: Keeping Kevin Phillips.
Having signed a one-year deal in 2011, it was great news for Blackpool to be able to retain the services of last season’s top-scorer and former Hornet Phillips.
The veteran striker guarantees goals, and although goals come from all over this Tangerines side, Phillips is a master of firing teams to promotion from this league.
Star man: Tricky winger, Thomas Ince.
Joined last summer as part of the deal which saw Adam move to Anfield and has not looked back.
Atittude problems are rumoured to have hampered his progress with the Merseyside giants but Ince has re-established himself at Bloomfield Road with a flying first season at the club.
Pacey, tricky and direct, the 20 year-old will be a consistent menace for full-backs.
In: Jake Caprice (free transfer), Isaiah Osbourne (Hibernian) £250k, Tiago Gomes (free transfer) & Scot Robertson (Dundee Utd) free.
Out: Keith Southern (Huddersfield Town) free.
wfc123: Should be there or there about’s in the promotion race, as long as they don’t suffer a hangover from last season’s Play Off final heartbreak. A lot depends on experienced heads Phillips, Barry Ferguson and Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
chrisgwfc: Holloway continues to do a top job and should he be in place for the whole of the next campaign there is not doubt they will be in the Play-Off shake up. Matt Phillips and Ince pose biggest wide threat in the division.