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That's what you call an awful start to the New Year (and not only because the Oyston's New Year resolution to clear off failed to materialise!). Awful team selection from Bowyer, awful displays from most of the players, awful tactics from Steve Evans, awful to let a dreadful team like Mansfield take 6 points off Blackpool and awful refereeing from a man who just seemed to be out for a jolly. Something isn't clicking about this Blackpool side and the sooner that the Seasiders manager gets back to the Starting XI that did so well a few weeks ago the better or Barnsley will only need to put their boots on next Saturday to progress in the FA Cup.
Gary Bowyer says he's learning the whole time about his side. Well, there's a few words of advice that may help him along a bit. The first is Armand Gnandouillet was a handy body to have around when injuries struck early in the season, but he is no better than our 6th choice striker. The next is that Danny Philliskirk is not a winger - no matter how many times he tries him in that position, it still doesn't work. The next is that Blackpool aren't good at the long ball game nor do they win many aerial football battles. The side is more than capable of playing football and it might be refreshing for the central midfielders to actually get the ball and be involved in the game. Oh for the days of Clarkson, Wellens, Southern and Adam - why Bowyer insists on bypassing the midfield is a mystery especially when he has talented lads like Cain and Payne in the side. The fact this side has only scored one goal in four games speaks volumes. The front two have been given nothing to work with, the two wide men have been poor (Samuel on occasion being the exception) and it's an inevitable that this defence is always liable to a gaff or two.
The decision to drop both Cullen and not bring back Matt in favour of Gnandouillet on Monday was baffling. The French man offers little other than his ability to head a ball (which he fails to do enough to make his presence worthwhile), which in turn seems to drag down Vassell's game. With Potts and Philliskirk ineffective down the wings and Cain struggling to get in to a game where the ball rarely fell for him, it effectively left little option up front despite Kelvin Mellor having a couple of decent efforts and Cain almost converting a free kick in the first half. As soon as Danny Pugh turned the ball in to his own net, the Mansfield manager parked the bus, played dirty, time wasted, contested every decision and did so in front of an obliging referee who looked like he was 'giving it a go' for the first time. As a spectacle it was poor, as an advert for League Two football it spoke volumes and for Gary Bowyer it was 90 minutes where he probably realised this squad isn't good enough to progress to the play offs.
On their day, Blackpool have proved that they can match most in this league but sadly with 7 defeats now under their belt they've also proved that day doesn't fall often enough. With two cup games to try to boost their confidence, it's as much about Bowyer realising that there isn't much strength in depth, nor can he continue to use players out of position, than it is this squad bucking up their ideas.
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