Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Flat as a pancake - Blackburn Rovers vs the Mighty

Today has been a really bad day. I suppose it hasn't really. I should retain some perspective given the range of things that can happen in a day and the fact there's quite a lot worse that can happen that hasn't but it's not been good. I can't say I've enjoyed it. Not so far anyway.

I'm relaxing on an industrial estate car park in East Lancashire and it's the best thing I've done in the last 24 hours. The man who took my five pounds was a chipper chappy from the 'warm Lancashire folk central casting agency' and I'm just having what my grandma would call 'a minute to catch up with myself' - I'm not sure I'm quite ready for football to be honest, as I feel like I've been through a blender mentally but football it is whether my mind can take it or not.

The team is out and I need a moment to process it. Thommo. Hmm. Gabriel. Good. No Fiorini. Bad. Rogers and Poveda. Yes! Jerry, Connolly and Dougs. Obviously, as they're made of some kind of stronger stuff than the rest.

What happens next? I dunno. I'm a shite blogger, not a psychic.


The first 20 minutes both side trade incompetent blows. It's like watching a slapstick boxing match with clowns punching themselves in the face rather than each other. No one can get a foot on the ball. No one can get the ball down.

Rovers are the first team to realise that wacking themselves in the face isn't a plan that is likely to yield much glory, so they try and (shock!) pass it and (this is the key bit) move a bit.

It yields a decent effort from the edge of the box that Maxwell tips over, a comedy corner routine where Sorba Thomas manages to miss the penalty area with a shot (no, really), and a good corner that we scramble away.

They switch the ball. Around me people jeer because, like Dom Thompson, they haven't spotted the wide man lurking by the touchline. Fuck. Panic. There he is. Everyone run about headlessly! In they cut. They ball is pulled back and then bang, it's rifled into the roof of the net by a runner who leaves Dougall trailing in his wake.

We hit it long to Poveda which is more punching ourselves in the face. We briefly pass it about. We manage a terrible shot from Jordan Gabriel and then, just to make everything more ridiculous than it already was, Jerry goes off injured. I might just go and sit in a toilet cubicle and cry.

Lavery comes on and chases one. He's gets bundled over. We're outraged but realistically, no one has a clue what happened cos it's miles away.


I quite fancy going home. I'm tired. It's not very good at all.


At least they're kicking towards us...

A Rovers dive in the box is at first a scare and then cause to celebrate when the ref spots it. Jordan Gabriel tries the revolutionary method of running at the defence as fast as he can and it works. He slips Poveda who goes into tricks mode but manages a sort of shot by default when the tackle rebounds off him and over the bar.

You can intersperse anything I write from now on with 'a period of play in which we can't get the ball happens and Rovers have a good chance' cos I can't be arsed writing it out loads.

We bring on Josh Bowler (warm applause) and CJ (we all knew that was going to happen whether we liked it or not applause)

Nelson sees what Gabriel tried and has a go himself, striding forward like Crazy Uncle Richard tribute act, sliding a ball down the line. Thommo collects with a flourish, puts it near post wear CJ flicks and there's Josh Bowler to slice it way wide...

(Remember, you're doing some of the work for once - see above. Rovers come forward etc)

The ref decides that CJ getting tripped isn't a foul. Thommo nearly gets snapped in half. Not a foul. Carey jumps for the ball with a big lad. It's like wet paper mache versus a wrecking ball. Carey doesn't win the ball. The ref gives a foul.

(Rovers come forward, nearly score etc)

We put Nelson up front. That makes us marginally more threatening. Thommo takes a long throw. I think Mick's been making him practice and it gets all the way into the box and all the way through and no one gets a touch because, frankly, it's us.

(You got the hang of this yet? That's right. They come forward...)

Bowler cuts inside. He's doing that thing where he could go either way, outside or inside and you feel as mesmerised as the full back by his hypnotic movement and balance, I can visualise him curling it into the top corner when he pokes it across the box and CJ tries to back heel it into the net. It goes all over the place and I swear there's and handball and the I swear there's another handball after that but obviously, there's nothing doing because it's us isn't it?

Nelson wins a flick. The ball flies around. Carey has a shot. It's wide. Sigh.


I never, for one moment felt as if we were going to score. That's not true actually. The chance where Bowler cut inside, I briefly felt the optimism of a possible goal but aside from that, I don't know, it just felt strangely inevitably flat.

We tried knocking it. We tried not knocking it. We tried knocking it again. It didn't work.

The midfield looked flimsy and fatigued. The long ball stuff was pointless, the short passing we tried we didn't have any particular pattern of movement. I can't be bothered with naming and shaming or excusing players. We were pretty poor. Look on twitter for who gets the ire (please bring Jimmy Husband back though and put our broken midfielders in one of those mad cryogenic chambers...)

I'm really tired now. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Mick's mad masterclass - the Mighty vs Stoke City

Today is the day. I can feel it in my bones. The optimism rising, the conviction in my stride as I walk to the ground, the certainty in the way I bound up the steps to my seat, comfortable in the knowledge that today will be the day we see wizardry from the men in tangerine. The trouble is, my bones aren't very reliable in this regard as I've felt this exact sense at least 8 times before this year. The crystal ball has been cloudy, the tea leaves have made weird patterns, the oracle at Delphi has uttered even more gibberish than normal. 

So, who the fuck knows? 

Who the fuck knows who Mick will pick? He springs a wildcard and plucks Fiorini from left field but otherwise, the team looks handy. 2 out of 3 of the flair players are on the pitch from the beginning and we look like we've got a nice blend and balance on paper. Paper is only paper though and in practice, on the pitch, the best laid plans have had a habit of going up in smoke this year. 

C'mon Pool! 


We start well. We pretty much always start well before it goes wrong. We have a couple of shots blocked! We win a corner! The ground is absolutely vibrating with the desire to see us take the fight to them, the early attacking created a kind of delirium born of desperation. Come the fuck on Pool! 

It always starts well and then it goes wrong. Stoke away on the left. They've been absolutely terrible so far, passing it out of play and looking half asleep. This time though, they whip it, fizzing and dipping across the box. An anxious intake of breath from all. It's met firmly but the ball screws up and away over the bar. Everyone breathes out. We got away with that. 

Rogers battling and dribbling at the same time. He wrestles with two men whilst shifting the ball from one foot to another. You can practically hear Mick turning round to Josh Bowler and going 'look at that son, we'll have you doing that before the season is out' - the ball runs loose, but for once, it runs kindly. Fiorini, all snappy intent so far plays a whip crack sharp pass that curls into Poveda's path. This man excites. I'd call him electric if that hadn't been taken. He's like a catherine wheel that has flown off its nail and is careering free. I swear when he touches it, sparks come from his boots. He's a scurrying ball of sonic energy, a blue hedgehog spinning and cartwheeling between obstacles at impossible speed. He lazes for a moment, he cuts inside, he picks up pace, he goes to shoot and the ball hits a thigh and loops, completely wrong footing the keeper, into the back of the net. 

The ground seems to tilt out of focus. That was too easy. I feel light headed. I feel elated. We're fucking winning. The noise goes up another notch. Mick McCarthy's Tangerine Army. Du du d-d-d-du-du... POVEDA! 

I couldn't tell you what happened for a while. It's like I've got vertigo. Every week you come and you hope, but something crushes that. I was kind of, for the first time really, thinking, well, if we lose, that's probably it and here we are, winning. Suddenly, everything is even more important. Everything is heightened. I mean, fucking hell, I know we've just gone one up at home to the team in 18th but I'm feeling as if we're beating Barcelona in a one off European game or something like that. That's how bad this season has been. I love football. 

Stoke carry on being a bit shit for a while and then it's like they decide to try and play a bit of football and they're much better for it. A shot is flashed across goal that has Maxwell scrambling and then leaping full stretch to watch it wide. He manages to block one point blank at the near post. He sticks out a leg in the opposite direction to which he's travelling to foil a close range effort. He does more than this though, he's always pretty good at stopping shots, but he also comes and claims a few, plucking crosses out and calming nerves. I might be #teamgrimmy to my very core, but the beardless keeper has done very well. 

It's not like we're clinging on, but it's not like we're commanding the game either. The whistle goes. I still feel a bit odd. We're fucking winning! 


For once, we took advantage of our customary decent 10 minutes at the beginning of the game. Otherwise, it's been pretty much like every other week of late. We've picked up some bookings, we've fought hard, we've looked a little bit lightweight despite that but for once, we've had the bounce of the ball in a scrappy game instead of the opposition. It can't last. 


Fiorini has gone off. He looked really good until late in the half, he tired. Fear not, because we've replaced the skilful midfield tyro who was spreading play nicely, being feisty in the tackle and showing beautiful control in tight spaces with his exact equivalent, the apple of big Mick's eye, CJ 'close control a speciality' Hamilton! C'mon Ceej! 

This half falls quickly into a pattern. Stoke attack, we repel them or they run it out of play and then we boot it long, lose the ball and repeat. Maxwell has had a good game, but he just keeps kicking it back to Stoke. I never thought I'd miss those pointless interludes of play where the keeper kicked it to Keogh and Keogh kicked it to the full back and then the full back kicked it to Keogh and he kicked it to the other full back before finally, either Keogh or the keeper bunged it long, but right now, they seem like a stroke of genius as at least for 30 seconds, we're not being attacked by the other team. 

It's all Stoke, except they're not actually doing that much with it. Nelson is commanding. Connolly is playing like a captain. Jimmy is just being Jimmy. At one point the ball spins out of the mixer and it looks as if we can break on the left - Jimmy trots after it so slowly, you know he's just thinking of the fact that if no one tucks in and he doesn't make it, we're screwed. Fuck the glory, hold the shape. Super Jimmy Husband. 

The screw is tightening though. We're making headers deeper and deeper. We're shadowing runners closer and closer to the goal. A flash of hope suddenly. The ball is belted away. Morgan Rogers, who is surprisingly useful in the air wins the flick. Jerry half controls it and then lets it run. CJ is through, CJ is surging past the defender, CJ is shooting, but he's pulled it too far across the far post and now he's burying his head in the turf. Head up CJ. C'mon POOOL! 

Another save, another block. More headers and more tracking runners. More noise. The crowd is constant. The noise is nonstop. Every time I go to take a breath, another chant starts up. At some point, Connolly manages to stumble his way back and throw himself full length at their attackers feet to head the ball off them from face down on the ground. 

Now the noise of confusion. What is Mick doing? There's Thommo, dreadlocks and all. There's Jordan Gabriel, looking muscular and focused. There's Luke fucking Garbutt? That's 3 full backs Mick. Three. Why are you putting two left backs on? What is going on. Who is coming off? Lyons. Ok, that makes sense for Gabriel. Poveda? Rogers? For two left backs? For fuck's sake Mick. 

I'm still processing this confusion as Stoke are flying down the right. It's whipped in, it's glanced, it takes a deflection and, you've got to say, it's been coming and probably, on balance is deserved but no... Maxwell has made an astonishing save. You can sometimes see a goal coming in a way that means when it happens, it feels almost like slow motion, but that happened in a fraction of a second and was absolutely blinding, Maxwell  reacted with the instantaneous involuntary trigger instinct of spring loaded trap and flicked the ball away and round the post when, for all the world it looked as if he would be, at best, waving it home and tumbling into the goal with the ball. I still can't quite conceive that he saved it. 

The crowd rise as one. The game goes on. I sometimes think it's a bit unfair that keepers rarely get the kind of acclaim that scorers receive. That was every bit as visceral a moment as when Jerry crashes one home but there's no chance for a goalie to milk the applause. 

Micks madness appears to have method behind it. We've gone to 5 at the back with Jimmy inside Thommo and Luke Garbutt is on the left side of midfield. Along the row someone points out that our left flank is CJ, Garbutt and Thompson and that means we must surely self destruct at some point. I'm beyond caring. I just want the game over. We've come too far to lose this. Dougall heads over from a rare Pool foray forward. 

A free kick to Stoke. Fuuuck. It grazes the outside of the post and hits the side netting. For a second I thought it was in, but I realise before the Stoke fans realise that it isn't. There's nothing more satisfying than goading the opposition in a moment like that. Maxwell's reward for his earlier heroics is to crash his head into the post. He's ok. I think he's milking it to take the sting out of the game. I hope he is. He's up. 

More time. More Nelson, more wrestling. More noise. The Great Escape. More Mick McCarthy's Tangerine Army. More half clearances. More half chances to break fluffed by the wrong ball or a slightly heavy version of the right one. Glancing left to the clock. More bookings. Thompson gets booked but the ref brandishes the card with Dougall in between him and Thommo and I think for a moment that Kenny has been dismissed. 

They break on us. We stand off. They run the ball sideways. They've got space. Husband launches himself. It's a clean foul if that makes sense. He's chopped the lad down on purpose, but he's kept his studs down. It's a yellow. It's a good chance for them. It needed doing though, because they'd have had a better one if he hadn't done that. I'm so tense I can barely move. The drum is still pulsing. It's like the heartbeat in my temples. The wall is lined up like a major infrastructure project, Nelson the main weight bearing concrete lintel and everyone else arranged around him. I feel sick. They're going to score. The whistle goes. In my head everything goes silent. Maxwell tweaks his shorts, claps his hands, sets himself. Their lad goes to strike it. I can't watch. 

It's over the top. The celebrations are incredible. People clap as if we've actually done something of merit. Sound starts again. I'm pretty sure that for a moment, everything had gone black and white. Everything is cheered from here on in. The slightest bit of anything worth celebrating is glorious. We fuck about in the corner. We win a few throw ins. We win a corner. We take a short corner. We're seeing this out aren't we?

More great escape. Allez Allez Allez! We're seeing this out! 

Stoke come again though, last seconds surely. How long? How long? A minute and a half says someone behind me who has had the astonishing presence of mind to note the point injury time started. Their last attack. They're overloading us. I can hear that hollow, static, scratchy, cold, white noise sound the other team make when they score. There's a shot. Was there a handball? It's not away. There's another effort that crashes into someone. Again handball maybe? No. Don't think that. A whistle. FUCK NO. Surely not. He's not given a penalty? He can't have!

He hasn't. It's the final whistle. My heart was in my mouth. I nearly vomited it out and let it go slithering down the steps in front of me. All of that and I was too nervous to even celebrate the actual end of the game. It's ok though. It's over.

The 'Pool are singing. The ground is as one. I feel weirdly like crying. I don't cry at football. I've never cried at football, at least not since I was very, very small but I'm oddly emotional now considering we've just beaten a mediocre side who aren't much higher than us. I dunno. I think it's just because this team have had no luck and to be honest, have maybe played better than this (at least in some senses) and lost and that, stupid as it all is, there's still all to play for and that, in this strange charade that is football, is all you want, for their to be a next week that means something. 

Poveda dances like a cheeky kid in school who knows he's got the attention on him. Gabriel does his serious fist clenching thing. Most of them just look absolutely shattered and relieved. Mick watches on. I hope he's going to say something like 'Good lad Pov, don't bloody milk it though, it were a deflection. See what happens though when you don't chip it like a bloody diva. Listen to Uncle Mick and you won't go far wrong' but he just gives him a big bear hug which, frankly, given the meeting of worlds that that is, you can't fail to smile at. 


What else is there to say? Complete and utter fight from them all. A crowd completely behind the team. Was it that different from quite a few other games this season? I suspect if you looked at the numbers and watched it back dispassionately, probably not. Who actually watches football like that though? I'll ask again. Was it that different from quite a few games this season? Fuck, yes. Of course it was!

We fucking WON! 

We're staying up cos we're fucking Blackpool. (Never in doubt) 


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Friday, February 17, 2023

The Mighty vs Stoke City - A shit preview

It's becoming a bit harder to write a rabble rousing piece prior to a game.

Magic Mick is mundane Mick.

There's been little to grab on to that convinces you that we're actually in a false position and everything is going to be ok. We're pinning our hopes on a couple of loan players that don't get picked and hoping they change everything. Even if they do get picked and change things, you know that one (or both) of them will inevitably get a hamstring injury and we'll be back to square one. 

This season is a reflection of the wider year. It's depressing, the solutions mooted by the people in charge don't seem to fit the situation. It's raining outside and everything is grey. 


For fuck's sake. C'mon.

C'mon. What are we doing here? 

For a start, this is football. This shit happens. If it didn't then football would be rubbish. Imagine a world insulated from the possibility of this pain? It would be awful. Last year we finished 16th and skated through the season, more or less on a wave of ecstasy, simply because we weren't going down. That joy that we all experienced, the noise, the colour, the delight is predicated on precisely this. If it was easy it wouldn't feel like an achievement. Think about how good next season will feel having scrapped our way to survival by the skin of our teeth. We'll treasure that achievement. 

Secondly, it doesn't actually matter as much as we might make out. I desperately don't want to go down but lets be honest, there's plenty of things that are worse than being relegated. Go with me here. 

The thing is, I think this is the key to survival. There's two ways a team with less money (and thus, in general a smaller, less gifted pool of players) can survive - one is to try harder and the other is to find some kind of tactical innovation that lets them play in a way that unsettles other teams. I think we've tried the first one - I absolutely don't buy anyone claiming that we've not tried this season. I think the second one is our hope. We need to play fearless football and to use the unconventional players we have to the best of their ability. We've not got the players to play percentage football. We just make too many errors, we can't hold the ball up front, we're literally smaller than other teams. Trying to do so is like treating a dog like a cat and then wondering why it's not responding as we want. 

The fear of losing has permeated our play all season. Being scared of losing football games has ultimately led us to lose football games. The best we've played is against sides where either the expectations have been low or the circumstances of the game have led us to throw caution to the wind. You can see the players come alive when we're trying things, when they're playing as they want to play. 

We've got at least 5 players who I think can hurt the opposition and amazingly all of them are fit. Poveda has technical ability to die for. There was one little moment on Wednesday where he stunned a pass up the line for Yates that was perfection. He took the ball in, he span, he bought a bit of space, he glanced, he shimmied, he anticipated Yates' run and then, with his head down, his lofted an outside of the foot pass to the exact point Yates needed it. It was the only pass he could possibly have played and it felt impossible. That's the point of the lad. Yes, he'll lose the ball, but he'll also do that. 

Yates is an incredible footballer. His effort, his all round game, his awareness of situations. He's a genuinely special talent in that he's got the abilities of a striker but the brain of a footballer and the feet to follow through and make his thoughts into happenings on the pitch. You get the best out of Yates when he plays football with players around him who are giving options, getting into the box and so on. The goal on Wednesday is just one example of this, the goal we scored away at Stoke last year another. There are multiple examples from across his Pool career - he's led the charts in 'goal involvements' (goals + assists) every single season he's been here. 

Bowler - what can you actually say about him that hasn't been said. Even if he has a bad game, he's capable of one moment of magic. He's so direct, so simple in what he tries to do and so reliably (and brilliantly) one dimensional that in a strange way, he becomes vital to the way we can play. He just gets the ball and runs at goal. He's like a weird reverse target man. He just does what Josh Bowler does, time and time again and the opposition cannot ignore him because he's so good at it. Even if he's not influencing the game, he's drawing the opposition to him and making space for others. That the other has been CJ of late... well... 

CJ Hamilton is a better player than Morgan Rogers. See. Look. No one believes that. I've written it down and it seems ridiculous. I can kind of understand why McCarthy looked at CJ's attributes and decided to give him a go. He's fast, he's willing, in full flow he's impressive. I don't understand why, when we've got a literally better version of him, Mick isn't taken by that. Rogers has pace, he's got physical presence, he's got a trick or two and he's direct. CJ, god love him, has his moments, but Rogers just seems to be more decisive, has more faith in his own ability. He needs to play. 

I'm going to also throw in Sonny Carey and I don't care what you think of that. He's been played out of position repeatedly, he's put in a shift in trying circumstances. He's been partnered with a player even less experienced than himself and he's fighting. His numbers aren't bad at all - he has more shots per game than any other midfielder (bar Bowler), his passing is as accurate as anyone else in the squad, he outranks all the above players for key passes per game, he's one of only two players this season to play a successful through ball. I think he's pretty good at football. The first time pass for Yates in the box on Wednesday was remarkably clever, the curling ball that set Hamilton away to do nothing in the corner was high class. He scored, he hit the post, he ghosted into the box for another decent chance. He's extremely good at drifting and then timing a run into the box or picking up the pieces outside of it. He almost scored against Rotherham, which, in the context of that game is practically a hat trick for fuck's sake. As much as anyone, I think Carey is a victim of this season but someone to his credit, whose game has grown. He should never be our 'battling midfielder' - he should be linking play up with others making space for him to do so. Carey with confidence is a tremendous footballer, impudent and intelligent, capable of knitting things together, aware and technically able. We should appreciate the lad a little more, build him up. Get behind him. He deserves it. 

We're at a point now where there's nothing to lose. If we can't give Stoke a game, then really, what's the point? They're the archetype of what we're battling against to establish ourselves at a level we should be at. They're shit. They have been for ages. We can beat them. We don't need to fear them. 

In the time it took me to write this piece, the clouds outside my window have lifted and the sky is now blue. 

We go again. We back them. We back them 100% We give everything. Everything. 

We're fucking Blackpool and we're not going down. 


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Sunday, February 12, 2023

Rock bottom and how we got there: 12 months of transfers reviewed

January 2022 and we're doing pretty well. I don't feel as if we're going to get relegated and I'm looking forward to seeing our new signing Cameron Brannagan replacing Ryan Wintle as the lynchpin in midfield and getting some of our injured players back. We've got a pragmatic and popular coach who has done well and the club is moving forward overall.  

Anyone remember laughing at that Oxford fan on twitter posting about ponds? Bastard was right. 

February 2023 and we've had 2 managerial changes, we're bottom of the league. We never did see Brannagan or frankly, replace Ryan Wintle with anyone half convincing. The man who managed us the year before walked out on us in a weird midnight flit. We're managed by a man I don't think anyone could possibly have predicted would ever be our manager who replaced another man whose appointment appeared to be an internet prank until you checked the dates carefully and realised that it was real. 

I'm not intending to discuss either of those managers in any depth. I don't think anyone can be sure how Mick will actually do. You can guess, but you don't know. I retain a degree of sympathy for Michael Appleton but equally, it's impossible to make the case that he 'did well' in any meaningful way. 

For my main course, I will cook a big mess out of random stuff in the fridge that doesn't really go together and lacks body and bite. Yum yum. 

What I want to do is look at the structures behind them. The strategy that drives the club forward (it seems apt to note that we've also got a reverse gear given on pitch happenings at the moment) 

Lets go back to January 2022. The body warmer is on and Mike Garrity is bellowing. We're playing well. Fans are giddy types and we're hoping for a play off push by the end of the window. That's fanciful nonsense but there's a sense that we've got something we can build upon and no reason why we can't at some style to the functional championship we've shown ourselves to be. 

We sign the following: 

Owen Dale: (loan move made permanent) He initially looked like the greatest player in the world. He then didn't look like very good at all apart from playing well at Barnsley. He is now on loan in League 1. It didn't work out. He doesn't play very much for us, then goes and is quite good elsewhere.  

Jake Beesley (permanent): The big lad from Rochdale seems a lovely sort, but he's scored twice against Birmingham and done very little else other than be injured. He's too old to be a 'hot prospect' and now he's got a perfect shot at playing in a team that needs a big lad, he's once again on the treatment table.  It hasn't, thus far worked out. He hasn't played very much.

Charlie Kirk: (loan) He does ok-ish sometimes and he plays semi-regularly but doesn't really excite anyone too much. It doesn't work out and he ends up at Charlton in the end. 

We clearly decided to stick instead of twist in that January window. That's ok. We weren't going up in a month of Sundays and January is really bad in terms of value. Trust the process etc. 

Roll on summer 22 I'm on holiday as Critchley does his silent mime vanishing act. Ben Mansford is hurriedly shoved on to Tangerine TV to insist everything is ok and that we've got schroedinger's transfer budget - we both have no money but it's ok because we have plenty of money if we need it. I'm in a Northumbria pub as my better half shakes her head and says 'does the football take over everything? We're on bloody holiday...' and I say something along the lines of 'yeah, sorry, he does look flustered though... who do you think we'll get in?' (She doesn't care.)  

The board announce Michael Appleton. It's a bold move... 

We're definitely going to sign some quality. There's a lad at Sheffield Wednesday, a lad at Rotherham. A striker from Pompey and of course, Cameron Brannagan. 

We all know what happens next. It turns out a pond wins against the 1953 FA Cup winners. We don't bring in anyone that we expected to. 

If we get Gaz to do summat daft Simon, everyone will overlook the other stuff. 
Ben, I'm not sure that's how it works. 
Trust me Simon. I'm a professional... 

Instead, we sign: 

Dom Thompson (permanent) - who tries hard and is very likeable but makes a hat full of mistakes (it's quite a big hat too). It turns out Jimmy 'League One clogger' Husband is actually not bad after all. Who knew? (Me. I did. I fucking told you all) 

Callum Wright (permanent)- This one is really weird. He's seemingly another attacking midfielder in a squad is now overflowing with attacking midfielders. He plays ok once and then looks terrified of football, football kits, football boots, footballs and footballers and is sold to Plymouth where he immediately scores some goals and presumably faces up to his fears. 

Callum Wright on the bench. Actual footage from his time with us.  

Charlie Patino (loan) -
He comes with a YouTube compilation and a great fanfare so he must be good. Right? He's even *actually played* in an *actual Arsenal game*. Is he a success? He scores against Preston and has a banging chant. He tries very, very hard. He has some poor games. He does ok. 

Lewis Fiorini (loan) - He looks a bit like he should be in the film of 'A Clockwork Orange' - he plays really well for 45 minutes against a QPR team in form in a really good display and then gets injured, never to be seen again. Presumably running with the droogs at the Korova Milk Bar

Lads, it's fine, I've told them I've done my hamstring. Now lets get wrecked and go on a marauding spree. 

Theo Corbeaneu (loan)-
One of the weirdest players I've ever seen. He runs at oblique shifting angles. He scores some goals. He gets dressed down on the pitch by his teammates quite regularly because he doesn't seem to understand the difference between 'a kickabout where you can take the piss running about in circles' and 'actual football where it matters what you do.' He gets sent back to Wolves. 

I know it's wrong, but I sort of miss Theo. 

Rhys Williams (loan)-
He's big and gangling. He looks at first like a kid who plays a different sport being asked to join in because the football team is short of numbers. He gets a bit better as time goes on. He goes back in January apparently to bolster their numbers, a fact which makes me laugh out loud when my Liverpool mate tells me this. 

Ian Poveda (loan)- He's not actually called Ian because he's a mad Columbian combination of the musician Prince and a pimp who also happens to have the skills of Maradona and the timekeeping and general work ethic of a stoner at Woodstock festival. He's both brilliant and seemingly unpickable. The latter point somewhat defeats the point of the loan. We love him, but we're denied him. He's like some long distance affair, brief passionate liaisons that feel like an illicit thrill, before he vanishes into the night evading the authorities always on his tail... Poveda! 

I actually made this. What is my life? I'm fucking 43 years old. Have word with yourself for encouraging this sort of thing. 

Summer turns to autumn and we play quite well in some games, even brilliantly in short flashes but terribly for long spells in others. We supplement the squad with free agent signings: 

Grant Ward (free agent) - This is a climb down for everyone. Michael Appleton has publicly stated he doesn't want Grant Ward to play in his midfield. He likely wants Grant Ward to play right back even less. Guess what happens? Ward is a player we owe a debt to so it's sad that his final games are two horrible right back displays where it looks like a) he isn't a right back and b) he hasn't played football for 14 months. The fact both of which things are true, doesn't stop people declaring him 'shite' which he isn't and is unfair. 

Liam Bridcutt (free agent) This one is a punt. It's like buying a fancy car in the paper that's much cheaper than it should be. You know the head gasket is probably blown or it's a cut and shut, but you just can't resist. Bridcutt might as well be at one of those market stalls where they sell broken biscuits and stuff that's past its sell by date. We sign him anyway. He has a couple of good games and then gets injured. He reminds us of Kevin Stewart in a good way. He also reminds us of Kevin Stewart in a bad way. 

October comes and goes and our form goes from inconsistent to what can very fairly described as awful. January 23 cannot come quick enough and replacements are needed. 

The first half of the window is all about serving Appleton's (now somewhat unpopular to say the least) idea of a fluent 433 and so, we sign... 

Josh Bowler (loan) - this one took a lot of scouting and effort. Seen as he'd played for us until September and could legally only play for us, you have to hand it to the scouting team for scouring the globe and coming up with this one. He weirdly has a spell as a central midfielder for no reason anyone on earth can fathom, before scoring on his home return from right wing. 

Morgan Rogers  (loan)- Like Bridcutt, this has 'Mike getting the gang back together' all over it. He looks pretty good. Like a souped up CJ Hamilton with sponges on his feet to cushion that classic CJ first touch. He doesn't start though, which leaves a distinct impression that he's not yet fit. 

Tommy Trybull (permanent) - Who? Oh, ok, he played for Norwich and Blackburn. I'll pretend I knew that. His YouTube compilation is pleasingly brutal, full of him clattering in with well timed and full blooded challenges. He looks just the man to replace Kevin and Liam in being our midfield enforcer. He shows up, looks quite crisp and neat, makes a few tackles and then limps off. For the love of god.

Simon, the game didn't say anything about 'injuredness' How were we to know? 

Charlie Goode (loan) -
I swear he's a cash in hand hod carrier my auntie once went out with that my mum used to tut about. Mind you, if he is, that would make him about 60 so it's probably not the case. He's big, he's bearded, he looks like he's been bought solely so that Mick has someone who can knock Gaz out if required. Guess what happens next? Yep. He gets injured. 

Curtis Nelson (permanent)- Mick's mate from Cardiff. He looks a bit rough in one game, kind of ok in the other and you'll never ever guess what happens next. Yes, he misses his third start with an injury. It turns out you guessed right. 

Andy Lyons (permanent) - I saved him till last as he's actually proved (so far) to be really good. He looks feisty and clever, scores a lovely goal and we finally have two actual right backs at the club (Simon Sadler telling us we did anyway, didn't make it true) and both of them are decent. 

Now it's now and the window is shut and we've got the squad we've got. I promised not to analyse managers but it's inevitable that a bit of discussion of their styles and how the players fit that is needed. 

Michael Appleton wanted to play a more possession based style than Neil Critchley, whose success was built on a solid back 6 and quick breaks. Losing Fiorini was a blow, but the fact we never snared a dominant midfielder to shield the defence and let the likes of Patino and Carey have a more free role was an absolute disaster. Bridcutt briefly looked like he could be that man, but the odds of him staying fit were such that it was like assuming you'd won the lottery when you saw you'd got the first number right. The loans were, for varying reasons, mostly a disaster. We ended up with a disjointed, leaderless squad and crucially, lacked width up front which meant we had to rely on Gary 'battered snowplough stuck in first gear' Madine up front on his own with Yates and Lavery masquerading as wide men. 

January came and Trybull, Bowler and Rogers seemed to address those key weaknesses. The board seemed to have dug in and finally backed the manager except it turned out that they hadn't. Mike went and Mick arrived. The squad now looked just about ready to do what Appleton wanted it to do - with Poveda on fire and enough technical ability to imagine Yates dancing about onto through balls and playing one twos. Next second he was gone. I'm not trying to argue he should have stayed, I'm just setting the scene for what comes next and the sheer table cloth pulling surprise of it all.  

Big Mick likes big lads. He takes one look at Ian chipping the keeper at Southampton, Josh not touching the ball at Boro and Patino doing those little shimmies where he looks really good, but could have just passed it first time and thinks 'where the hell am I?' and reaches for his contacts book. 'Get me anyone over 6ft 2 - TC, make us a brew and tell us a joke, bloody hell, it's like bloody land of the midgets here, what's them lads in that Chocolate factory book? Oompa Oompas? Is that what they'called. Never mind. I tell what, them novelists, they think of all sorts don't they. Them anyway. I've got a bloody squad of them. Tell you what TC, we should have had a look first before leaping into this. Bring us a digestive will you?' 

We can clearly see that providing the two managers we've had with the right players has been a challenge. My theory (based on nothing in particular) would be that Critchley actually knitted a lot of the vaunted 'backroom process' together. He was nothing if not diligent. I have it on good authority* that he watched games almost constantly when not 'on the grass' or admiring his fabreze scented polo shirt collection in his neatly arranged wardrobes in his neatly arranged house with his neatly tidy car neatly parked on his drive surrounded by the neat lawn on a neat cul-de-sac in the neat little estate where he and Jannine live. 

*i.e. someone said it to me once. 

When we look at the 18 players we've signed, we can analyse it in a number of ways: 

5 players (Kirk, Dale, Bridcutt, Rogers and Nelson) were likely a product of the manager knowing them from previous jobs. 
2 players (Ward and Bowler) were known to the club already. 

That means 11 of them are the product of some kind of scouting process. 

2 of them come from somewhere outside of the English league (Lyons and Trybull) 
The remaining players come from either the reserves or u23s of a Premier League side aside from Beesley who came from Rochdale. 

It's hard to look at the names above and see anyone who has really impacted our season in the way we hoped new players would. Lyons looks like he could be a success. Patino has shouldered a heavy load and done it with admirable effort, but he's not really been the difference maker we dreamt of. Bowler is Bowler and we had him already. Rogers looks handy. Nelson, it's impossible to judge. Trybull, we can only hope isn't Bridcutt mark 2. 

The key problem for me this season hasn't actually been our manager or players. It's that we're now (if we count Critchley) 3 managers on from last January and our key players are still the same ones as they were in August 22 (or even in the League 1 promotion season) - We're still reliant on Husband, Dougall, Thorniley, Yates, Madine, Ekpiteta, Maxwell, aided by Bowler, Connolly, Lavery, Carey and so on. Again, I'm not arguing any manager this year has been a football genius - I'm just suggesting that they've not really been helped by the circumstances. 

These players above have a lot going for them, but they're now playing their third different style of football in less than 10 months. Some of these players we felt might struggle with the step up from the league below when it came and yet, here they still are and how much they've run and fought in that time since. They've really not been well served by the choice of many of their new teammates or the 90 degree switches in footballing philosophy

It's madness to suggest we should be paying out the same fees and wages as the clubs in this league who are at the top, but I don't think it's madness to suggest we really could and should have made the money we have work a bit harder. What I find curious is that we've seemingly completely abandoned scouring the lower leagues for talent. Only Beesley came to us via this route whereas Ekpiteta, Anderson, Yates (sort of) and Carey all came from lowly clubs or reputations built in the lower leagues. Where are the 25 year olds hungry to prove they're good enough? We also seemed to completely miss the boat with signing anyone released over summer - the year before, we picked up a slew of talent this way (Grimshaw, Connoly, Bowler for example) and whilst Wright and Thompson did come from the Premier League, both were still in contract with their parent clubs. No one came in with the sting of rejection motivating them to show the error of the decision to release them... 

It was almost as if Critchley legged it with the plan in his back pocket. I might post the picture of Ben with 'turmoil' written on him again... 

The players we've signed who haven't worked aren't necessarily bad players. Some of them are probably very good players, but we've never looked like we're making a jigsaw, more that we're laying crazy paving out of bits of stuff we can find. We've had some dreadful luck with injuries with both extant and new squad members, but there has come points when the strategy of 'kids + older players who are cheap and we must cross our fingers and toes that their bodies will hold up' has left the kids high and dry which in turn, means those kids lose confidence and things get worse still. In a similar vein, we rightly bemoaned the loss of Keogh, but the attempt to play football with no defensive midfield I would argue left our defenders with a kind of football shell shock, so unused were they to being the first and last line of defence and that declining confidence manifested itself in panic, red cards and gaffes. In turn, the players we'd perhaps hoped to flip for money to fund new players have declined in value as simply put, people don't want to shell out multi-millions for players who were good six or twelve months ago but aren't any more... 

Oh, so grim. 

The good news is this. The only way is up. (technically, it's not but just run with it for the sake of hope for fucks sake!) - McCarthy might not be your cup of Yorkshire tea, but he will give clear messages. We might not look very good right now, but the effort is there and the players are gamely trying to carry out what he's asking them to do. A plan is always better than no plan and a plan that people buy into is more important than a plan that looks good, but people can't follow. Mick's plan isn't subtle and perhaps that's what a team low on confidence needs. We can only hope.

It's the hope that kills you. 

We've also revamped the recruitment team. It's quite difficult to work out if they've had much impact or not as yet, but Coventry (where they came from) have been a side who play lovely football on a small budget for quite some time and have had some remarkably good players in recent years. If Mick is all about staying up, I suspect the signings we've made are all about the immediate context and not future planning. The duel swoop for a known quality in this area would suggest the club are well aware of what I'll kindly describe as the 'deficits in our recruitment over a period of time.' Others may use their own descriptions.  

It's to be hoped that summer (when we've secured our status in the league obviously) is about giving us a coherent identity and that there's a list of literally hundreds of targets being monitored right now. The squad has been desperate for evolution and summer, (regardless of the division we're in) will bring a revolution akin to that of Sadler's first season and that needs more than Mansford's mates and some lads the manager knows to be successful. We've blown the opportunity to evolve and therefore this is where we are. 

We're not going down though. Cos we're better than that. 



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Saturday, February 11, 2023

Grey day: the Mighty vs Rotherham United.

Right lads. It can't be as bad as Tuesday. Lets be at this. Herald the new dawn of tangerine wizardry. C'mon you POOOOOOOL. Bowler! On the wing! Jerry! Down the middle! Lyons! Marauding from full back! CJ! er... Ok. Let's keep things in perspective. It's more balanced anyway.

This will be much better.

I'm sure of it.  


I don't know what to write.

The first half was like trying to ride a bike on sand. It was like wading through a lake choked by weeds. It was a car, stuck in the mud, revving, wheels spinning, juddering but going nowhere, never breaking free of the sludge. It wasn't what it was, it was more that it wasn't. Nothing happened.

Some things must have happened. 

One of their players looked like a rubbish Dimitar Berbetov impersonator. 

Chris Maxwell made a good save. Tom Trybull becomes the latest in a long line of 'players we signed in the hope they'd not be injured again even though they have a history of being injured who are now injured probably because they've got a history of being injured

We scored an offside goal that no one seems that bothered about so was probably offside. 

Apart from Josh Bowler surprisingly taking a throw in I really don't know if I can think of anything else. My head is numb with the futility of it all. What the fuck was that? It was like watching two shit armies launching misfiring outdated weapons that might explode behind their own lines as easily as land in enemy territory. It was nuclear winter football. 

36 minutes. Applause. Really, this is all that matters. You don't know what game will be your last. You don't know who will not be there tomorrow, next week. Nothing is forever. Before the game, silence. Tragedy of a scale we can't even process. Weighed against that, the fact we're now down to the bones of the squad again doesn't really seem that important. We bury our own. Life is always precarious. Those silent heavy days where existence is cloaked in anguish. Where you feel so much that everything seems out of focus. Grief is like snow. It deadens everything around you. Sometimes we need to be amongst people. Sometimes we need to cry. Sometimes it's fucking hard work just to walk in a straight line.

Be kind. The price of human decency doesn't rise with inflation. Never let the bastards win. 


I don't really have anything to say. My lad says 'dad, they should paint the goalposts at half time' and I look at him confusedly. "Would be more fun watching them dry than watching this match" 

"That's quite good. I'll use that in the blog" I tell him.

He demands 10% of the profits or a flat fee of £10.32. I decide just to use it regardless. I'll await the lawsuit. You don't not pay me for me to give the money you don't give me away. 


Carey has a bit of a spell where he looks half decent. A great ball. A spin. A back heel. Some feisty wide play where he just will not give up. Another good ball whipped in from wide. We have a shot! A shot! Everyone!!! A shot! Look! We kicked the ball at the goal! The keeper saves it easily but it was a nonetheless a shot. They can't take that from us. The playoff push starts here. 

Josh Bowler takes another throw. Why is the talented mercurial winger throwing the ball to the fullback so the fullback can try and dribble round the opposition? I've not yet got my UEFA pro-licence and I don't have a tactics board but I think we've got that the wrong way round. Just saying. 

Whilst we're on questions, why does Maxwell take so long to kick the ball out when we're so little that allowing the other team to get set and kicking it somewhere just short of the halfway line is bound to bring pressure on to us? Why don't we take quick goal kicks and throw ins and set pieces quicker as the one thing that's likely to break down this dour wall of South Yorkshire grime and gritstone is being fast, nippy and skillful and we've (hard as it is to discern) actually got players who actually fit that description. 

A long ball over the top. CJ gets round his man. CJ looks a bit like a horse running wild that doesn't know what to do now it's off the race track. He kind of runs round the ball and aims a tentative leg at it. It heads in the opposite direction to the goal. Oh CJ. CJ. CJ. CJ CJ. 

I sigh. Everyone sighs. CJ sighs. Poor ol CJ. 

Fuck. No. Jerry is down. I'm going home. I'm actually just leaving now and not coming back. Jerry hobbles on. It appears he's ok. I thought it was a muscle strain but it seems to just be a knock. I don't think he's quite right to be honest but we've got no strikers on the bench so unless we fancy play the 'false 9 Mickball' style which involves knocking it long to absolutely no one, Jerry must carry on. 

Morgan Rogers comes on. He is quite good. Rotherham have a spell of looking as if they might score but they're also a bit shite so they don't. They're far less arsed than we are about scoring because they've got more points than us and are away from home, but they look as if they might get a goal despite not particularly being bothered about it. I think they hit the post from another free kick that looks suspiciously like it goes through a gap in the wall. 

Go on Josh. Go on Josh, Go on Josh. He pulls it across. Rogers slides... Oh, it's agonisingly close. Rogers gets some treatment because of course he does. If you sign for Blackpool, subsection 5 of FA rule 3 states 'you must get injured within 4 games of your debut' - Rogers is ok. How didn't we score that? 

Tom Eaves comes on. I bet Mick wishes he played for us. So do I to be honest. Why does everyone else have players? 

Time is ticking. This game has corroded my soul. It's been horrible. I'm so on edge and yet also weirdly resigned to it. I want Poveda on but I also feel as if there's no point bringing Poveda on because he's even less Mickball than the players who are already on and we're resolutely Mickball. I reckon Poveda will only beat 3 players, lift it over the keeper, leap over him, spin round and go to back heel the ball (that's already going in) into the goal only to hit the post. This would send Mick into such a rage that he'll kick the goals over and use the posts to smash everything he can see in a blind furious frustration that footballers can't just see how the game is a matter of simple percentages. On balance, to be fair, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, that would be entertainment. TC would probably have to do the press conference. 

'That was shite.'
'Fuck's sake, who is that to?' 
'C'mon, fucking c'mon' 
'These are awful' 
'We're as bad' 
'We're fucking worse' 

People are leaving. The ball is in the air. Again. It's dropping. Jerry is running onto it. It's so close, the keeper, the sniper with a sore leg, the keeper will get it, no Jerry has got it, he's shooting, it's saved. Carey shoots, Bowler gets in the way, the ball screws about, I feel like I want to be sick. Bowler shoots, Carey gets in the way. FOR FUCKS SAKE POOL. JUST FUCKING SCORE. GIVE US SOME FUCKING JOY! PLEASE! 

I feel like I want to cry.  Nothing has happened but it feels like my body and mind has been through a mangle. I actually watch the last three minutes on my knees, leaning on the empty seat in front of me. It's kind of meditative seeing the game from this odd standpoint. From outside of my own body, my consciousness observes Rotherham hitting the bar.

I breathe deeply and exhale. There's some general scrambling. Grey skies and lurid LED boards. A squall of seagulls. Thousands of faces facing the same way. Some etched with years of pain, some freshly hurting but still hoping. Some snarling, some sad. Some just looking wryly on in grim acceptance of whatever comes.

I love it here.

Even when it's this bad.  


We're not done. We're fucking Blackpool for fucks sake. We'll fuck up what we should win and win what we should fuck up. There's no energy in me for a dissection. The defenders were good, especially Jud who was actually really properly good. The players tried. It didn't work. It was probably typified by Carey not quite being quick enough to break away but chasing down the lad who tackled him and diving in to stop him clearing it. A huge effort that actually just yielded a throw to them. That was really the story of it all.

This manager has got a set of players that are probably as far away from the set of players he wants to try the things he thinks we need to do as he could imagine. After Trybull went off, that was just about the least 'Mickball' set of players you could imagine. At least we've got a load of big lads on the treatment table and suspended so that's all good. What a transfer strategy. What a triumph this year has been. Lets just leave all that for now. I can't face it. 

We're fucking Blackpool and we're not going down. 

We'll have to try again until it clicks. It's that simple. We ain't done. Never. 


(For Lee, who I didn't know apart from as some words shared and seen on the internet, but whose passing is perspective, tragedy and sadness. We're all tangerine. Forever and whatever. It's a strange life. It's a strange love we all share - but it's all we have and it's real in a world where sometimes it's hard to feel anything about anything) 

RIP Lee x) 

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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Ugly game - beautiful ending: the Mighty vs Huddersfield Town

It's a big match. A scrap. A battle. A titanic relegation dogfight. Cliche abounds but I'm too tense to be all arty and pretentious about this one. It's an elephantine occasion. There we are. Some shite. 

We need to turn up. We need to turn up. We need to turn up. I'm sick of reflecting on what went wrong and suggesting tweaks to t-t-t-tactics like I'm some kind of cunt who gets paid to state the obvious for the Athletic. Maybe we could try and score more than them? Can I have my fee now? 

I don't care what the manager does. I don't care what shape we play. I don't care about game fucking management or compressing the thirds or whether we invert the space between the pockets of half lines.

I just want fight, intent, passion and I don't care how we score or how dirty we have to be or how lucky we have to get, I just want us to win. It's a cold night. Two teams who've been playing like shite. Let's just be less shite than them. For once.

Come on you POOOOOOOOL

See you all on the other side...


I. Don't. Understand. The. Line. Up. What is it? Who is playing where? There's loads of jumping about as the ball bounces round. We've come up with a tactic of lobbing it Ollie Turton and hoping CJ running at him scares him. Surprisingly it does a few times. Ollie Turton just moves a bit and that's that outlet closed off. More jumping about. This isn't the finest game I've ever seen but Pool look keen. Gary is doing that running like a maniac for ten minutes thing he does before he has to have sit down. I always feel that whilst it warms the heart, it's not really a long term answer to the question 'who can provide pressing from the front.' That said, if you had a competition to look like a sprinting fridge, Gaz in full flight would be tough to beat.   

Maxwell has stretched full length and turned the ball round the post. I think it took a deflection. It was a very good save. Suddenly we're going the other way, The ball into Madine, he plays an angle defying, weighted ball to CJ who cuts it back, Yates cocks the trigger and fires, the ball ricochets off a defender into Carey who is charging forward, it more hits him than he hits it and it squirms inches wide. How did we not score? Will we get any luck? Ever? Carey is tangled up in the net. The ball is gone. The moment is over. Fuck's sake. Breathe out. 

C'mon Pool. Oh, what now. WHAT NOW? I'm literally thinking 'the Goode is ok when the ball is in the air, but he makes me worry when he has to chase someone' when I realise, it's not that he's quite as slow as he looked then, but that he's pulled up injured. Terrific. Let's add someone else to the collection of 'footballers no one else wants because they're made of porcelain that we've somehow been persuaded to swap some cash for by a spiv in a dark alley who promises we can take them back if there's a problem but has disappeared into the smog of the night taking our cash with him.' 

Sometimes people talk about playground football. Often it's wankers being all macho about how much they can deride people who are about a million times better at football than they ever were or will be. You hear people going 'oh, look at the full back, playground stuff' when a winger skins a player with a brilliant bit of skill, or someone doesn't close down because they're stuck between two men and thus between a rock and a hard place. I really don't want to be like that. But... 

The ball goes way up in the air from a sliced clearance. There's a big scramble. We all look a bit nervous. Huddersfield win the ball. They score. It's literally like a fucking playground goal. It's like watching year 8 football - when the players have graduated to a big pitch but haven't grown enough to fill it and they're a bit scared of the ball and the bigger lads win. I hate this season so much. 

Nowt happens for ages. It's muted again. I can't remember us having a shot. Suddenly we wake up in injury time and have a go. It's a great 4 minutes that involves some half chances and a bit of fight and... oh for fucks sake. For fucks sake. This is becoming blackly hilarious. Now Gary goals goal machine Madine has got himself sent off for absolutely no fucking reason at all other than being a big mardy arsed petulant get more interested in the scrap with his defender than the bigger picture. I could just go home. Can we just sack this season off? Fucking hell Gary. Not even I can turn this sow's ear into a silk purse. You've let me down, you've let your mam's Pink Floyd vest down. You've let Jimmy Husband and pistachio nuts down but worst of all Gary, worst of.... You know the rest... Go and sit on the sunbed and think about what you've done. McCarthy and TC don't even acknowledge him as he trudges off. The frosty atmosphere is palpable from half a pitch's length away. 


Lack of discipline, comical defending, failure to make chances, fan favourites left out... Appleton Ou.. Hang on. It's not meant to be like this any more. 

C'mon. Moping will do us no good. 


Rogers is on. Sonny 'possibly the worlds least lucky player' Carey is off. We do ok. We hold our own for 15 minutes. We look marginally more likely than them to break out of the turgid mess that is passing for a game of football. Dougall has a shot that we could describe as 'not bad,' corkscrewing up and over, but drawing an oooooh. The North Stand is magnificent. Jerry is outstanding. He just runs and runs and runs. He's Gaz and he's Jerry in one body. He's running for his own flicks. He's doing the pressing of two players. Maybe Gaz got sent off on purpose just to show the manager that Jerry needs to play up the middle because he's the best all round player we've got? 

An hour gone. C'mon Mick... We're losing it. They're making chances. Maxwell saves a near post effort that clearly hurts his hands. They skim one across goal. They run at us and we look alarmed. At one point I hear some ask 'why was Connolly running away then?' It's a fair question. The man next to me declares this 'the worst game of football I think I've ever seen' - it's probably not that, but it's certainly made the nominations list. 

Finally... He's electric. He's definitely not a central midfielder, he's possibly a little bit heavier and made of slightly more kebabs than when he left. Ladies and gentleman, here is the man who can't head, can't tackle, doesn't track back and yet, is the best player in the fucking world somehow, it's Josh Bowler!!! On the right wing! Where he belongs! 

There's a bit of hope simply at the sight of him. Fun fact - Michael Appleton won more points in the Championship without Bowler in the team than Neil Critchley. I'm not sure that's actually true, but it's close enough to have ring of truth and that's all fake news needs. I'd look it up but it's 11.46, you don't pay me owt and I'm up at 6.30 to go to work. So fucking look it up yourself you lazy get. The point is, for all the bellyaching about this and that, we've missed this lad so much and anyone who says otherwise can't actually have bothered to pay any attention. 
He runs, he stabs it to Jerry, it's too hard. We all sit down. He gets vaguely near the ball. We all stand up. He shies away from the tackle. We all sit down. Just give it to him. It's easier said than done. The ball is ping ponging about. The game is so unsatisfying it resembles what I imagine watching people trying to play football on the deck of a ship in a storm must look like. Mostly it consists of misplaced passes and wrestling with occasional hoofs out of play. Bowler looks lost. 

He's got it at last. A lazy turn, a pass, a glide on to the return ball, a cut back, a deflection and then out of nowhere Andy Lyons gallops onto it and smashes a curling, fizzing, beautiful effort into a gorgeously taut net. It's a fucking great moment. Yes, Yes, Yes!!!! YESSSSSSSS!!!! For once. For once this year, we've turned it around and now, lets go and fucking do it. Lets take the game to them. They're going to be petrified. That advantage is ours. C'MON POOL!!!

Remember last week when that Boro lad clipped that beautiful finish just inside the near post and you thought 'well, that won't happen again any time soon?' 

That fucking happened.

I've actually decided I'm going to watch Morecambe instead. It's cheaper, closer to my house and it won't hurt like this cos I don't give a fuck about Morecambe. To be honest, I'd rather watch that year 8 school team from earlier. Fuck off football. Fuck off Pool. Fuck off the referee who has been awful, stalking around like stick insect, his pale face, pale hair and pale blue shirt giving him the look of some fucking Nazi who started an electropop band with a shit dress code. Dickhead sends off Gaz for throwing a hand and just ignores two equally violent assaults on Husband, about three handballs, one hilarious point where one of our lads got literally lifted up and dumped on the ground and numerous other things I'm too angry to continue writing about... 

How are we supposed to get anything when we're playing the referees week on week? Its a fucking conspira.... FUCKING HELL!!!! BOWLER!!!! YES YES YES YES YES! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Rogers got away, Jerry had a go, it was tired effort, having run about 23 miles, but it broke for Josh who absolutely slammed it home. 

I actually love football more than anything. Unreal. Whatever happens. That's the moment we live for. That. Right there. A bit of joy. 

We love you Blackpool. We do. 


Maybe the tactics weren't great. (The tactics weren't great) Maybe the same old problems were evident (the same old problems were evident.) Maybe I don't love Gaz any more. (Let's not be too hasty)

The main thing was, as much as it was the same record with a different cover for a lot of the game, actually, the very last bit of the album sounded beautiful. We did come back, we did find a way and whilst a point is not a lot, it's something. 

Nelson did ok I thought, though his clearance for the first goal was a bit dicey. Trybull seemed like a player we should have had in summer. Lyons is fantastic. Rogers, I thought was good. He splits opinion. He's like CJ with skills. He's direct. He loses the ball. I think he was clearly more positive than not. Mick must surely now see what Bowler is. Surely. Surely. Surely! 

We definitely have some players. We need to use them. It was not, by anyone's definition a vintage performance. A lot of it was distinctly poor - but there was total effort and that double come back must surely give the players a sense of some sort of achievement. It's been a long time since they've felt that and that's what we've got to take into the Rotherham game. There's no point moping and looking at the table. It's no good whining at Mick. He's been here 5 minutes and he's what we've got now, like it or not. We need the same backing every single minute of the rest of the season. It's pointless to do anything else. 

Fight and play a bit of football.
Get the wide players into it.
Let them loose.
Take a risk,
Have a shot.
It might just go in. 


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