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Robin Sainty, INCSC chairman
Sunday, January 22, 2012
I suppose it’s inevitable given City’s excellent position at the turn of the year that comparisons with Blackpool are being trotted out by the pundits and media.
Both clubs were relatively unfashionable and predicted to fail miserably by all and sundry, yet looked good at the halfway mark. As we all know, Blackpool then faded badly in the second half of the season before dropping back to the Championship.
So, we all know about the similarities, but are there also key differences between the two clubs? I would suggest that there are several.
The first point to make is that, whereas our squad was finalised very early, Blackpool did most of their business on the last day of each transfer window, with very variable results. This was particularly true in January when they brought in two strikers (Beattie and Kornilenko) who were to fail to hit the net in 15 games between them. Speaking to Blackpool fans it’s clear that there was a lack of depth in the squad, something confirmed by the fact that nine players clocked up over 30 Premier League games each. This is also cited by the fans as being a major contributory factor to some tired late season performances.
However, I believe that the January window was the real turning point for the Tangerines, because not only did they fail to add any real value to their squad, but it also marked the start of the Charlie Adam saga.
Adam had an outstanding first half to the season and was, without doubt, the stand-out performer for Blackpool, scoring a number of goals from set pieces. However, once Liverpool made their interest clear, his performance level dropped and it’s difficult to believe that the dream move wasn’t something that was playing on his mind.
If your team is built around one player and that player’s head is turned, you are in big trouble.
City, of course, are a squad in which the whole is considerably greater than the sum of the parts. There are no big egos in the dressing room and no one player has been allowed to become the star of the show, as evidenced by the level of rotation.
They are a team rather than a group of individuals, and clearly revel in each other’s successes. The squad is also significantly younger than Blackpool’s was, as well as being superbly well conditioned.
However, for me the biggest difference between the two clubs is that, while Blackpool’s style hardly changed throughout the season, with every game played like a cup match, there are clear signs that City’s has, with our build up play becoming noticeably more measured over the last few games.
Patience is now very much the order of the day, although we can move quickly when the opportunity arises. An analysis of the West Brom game shows that both of our goals came from us closing down the man on the ball in or around our box before breaking quickly and decisively.
However, we are now slowing the pace of the game much more and keeping the ball for longer periods. Consequently we are less prone to being caught on the break; a lesson than Blackpool never fully learnt, losing two-goal leads on five separate occasions.
It may be a little less entertaining than the style with which we won consecutive promotions, as well as causing some unease in the crowd, but it could well be the key to our survival.
There is still work to be done, but I, for one, don’t believe we will follow Blackpool’s path.