Manager: Ian Holloway
Ins: Isaiah Osbourne (undisclosed amount), Scott Robertson (free transfer), Jake Caprice (free transfer)
Outs: Keith Southern (undisclosed amount), Brett Ormerod (free transfer), Lomana LuaLua (free transfer), Daniel Bogdanovic (released), Stephen Husband (released), Matt Hill (released)
Strengths: Never knowing when to quit and manager Ian Holloway fighting to hold onto his better players like Matt Phillips despite ‘approaches’ from Premier League clubs.
Many a team have been on the end of a shock defeat at the hands of the gritty underdogs Blackpool. They went up to the Premier League three seasons ago against all odds, had a brief time in the top half of that division and then suffered relegation in a tense final day. Even when back in the Championship though, the Seasiders again shrugged off the critics and reached last season’s play-off final. Even though their trophy cabinet isn’t bulging like that of many of their title rivals, the heart of Blackpool FC is arguably beating the strongest.
Weaknesses: The play-off final hangover. It is all well and good getting to the Championship play-off final – a trip to Wembley Stadium doesn’t come around every day. However, be on the losing team and there is no guarantee that your team will be fighting it with the big boys next time around. Just look at Leeds, who finished bottom of the Championship almost one year to the day after they had reached the play-off final in the 2005/2006 season. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule – Reading and West Bromwich Albion won the league a season after play-off heartache. Which way will Blackpool go?
Last season’s performance: Questions were asked about whether Blackpool could bounce back after relegation from the Premier League following an exhausting campaign. But the Seasiders didn’t let the critics get to them, finishing fifth in the league and losing out to West Ham United in a tense play-off final to snatch away their chance of a straight return to the top division.
If they were a celebrity: Rocky. Come on, who thought Rocky would have had a chance against the intimidating Apollo Creed? The Paddy Power Blog is guessing many of the same sceptics thought Blackpool would never feature in the Premier League. Well, they both happened as every dog – even an underdog – has its day.
You might not have known: Blackpool seem to have a love affair with play-off competitions. In fact, they were the first team to have climbed through all four divisions of English football via the backdoor that is the play-offs. We’re sure the fans wouldn’t mind just one automatic promotion one day soon though.
Championship title odds: 14/1