Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Welcome back?

He's suntanned. He's got a twinkle in his eye. He's got an 'umm' to say and he's going to say it. He's contrite. Ever so contrite. He's sorry Critch. He's regretful Critch. He's wistful Critch. He's romantic Critch. He's Critch on his knees begging for forgiveness. He's yeah but no, it wasn't actually my fault when you really think about it Critch. 

Thoughtful 'umms'. High pitched 'umms'. Sad umms. Determined 'umms.' 'Umms' that say what words can't. 

He can't wait to get back on the grass, back in the dressing room, back to getting this place rocking Critch. He's the greatest hits of Critch vol2. Classic Critch. 

Remember the good times? Remember the wins? Remember Wembley... Please. Everyone. Wembley. When it was wonderful. When we used to look at each other and there was nothing but love in the air and sweet joy in our hearts. One mistake babe. I made one mistake. Are we really going to throw everything we had away, for one mistake? I can't go back in time but if I could babe, I'd do it Critch. 

He loves us. He loves alignment. It's all about things being aligned. He loves Simon Sadler. More about alignment. He loves the lads. He loves the groundsman. Him and Flynny are aligned. Simon and him are aligned. Simon and Flynny are aligned. Everyone loves each other. It's a perfectly aligned isosceles triangle of alignment and love. Throw in the gang in the office and it's a love square. Hey, add in the guys down at Squires Gate and the gym and it's a love Hexagon. It's any shape you want. Love and alignment. Maybe it's a wheel. Maybe it's a spinning wheel of love with an impish, twinkly eyed polo shirted fella with a look of contrition and a steely resolve to put things right as its hub.

He's back and it's all about the culture and not about me at all Critch. 

I like to imagine his first job was to go into the room where the training bibs are kept and refold them all to be neater. I like to think of him opening the cupboard where those little plastic disc things they use for warm ups are and ensure they were all in equal piles organised in colours and the piles then arranged according to their place on the colour spectrum. 

He's obviously already texted Charlie Kirk. That goes without saying. He's definitely binned Mick's classic driving music tapes from the ghetto blaster in the dressing room though he did give them a quick blast and nodded his head along to Marrilion. As he listened, he got a bin bag and collected all the empty bottles of lifting supplements that Appleton crushed with his fist and launched towards the bin. He's in the zone now. He mouthed the words to 'Your the Voice' by John Farnham as he tidied... 

He's rubbed off TC's diagram of a goal with a stickman labeled 'Jerry' and an arrow pointing towards it. He paused for a moment. Sighed. Then rubbed out Yates' name. Things to do... 

He looked around. He took a deep breath. For a moment, everything felt heavy. He's gone the long way round to get back to right where he was. Has he made a terrible mistake? He could be living a life of limited pressure, sitting behind his desk in some academy somewhere, sifting through the profiles of young kids and deciding who is going to close down their man and follow instructions and who isn't. He could live without all this. The taunts that will follow defeat. The scrutiny. The questions. The long drives home. 

He's pensive and reflective Critch. 

He opens the window. He opens the blinds. Sunlight streams in. The dust motes twinkle in the shafts of summer sun. It's incredible how light travels through all that vacuum and darkness and yet, ends its journey here and now, in this very room. The fresh, sea air floods the space. He breathes it in. He hears the cry of a seagull, wheeling its way around the stadium on the air currents that swirl around the stands. 

He thinks of what it was like. His eyes soften. His breathing is shallower. He's home. He's got a job to do. He allows himself a small smile. 

He reaches for his phone. 

'Janine. I think I've done the right thing. Put me a bottle of Kaliber in the fridge. I'm going to let my hair down tonight

He picks up his laptop. He goes to the mirror. He checks his collar is properly even. He puts a few strands of hair in place. He takes a another deep breath. 

He's ready. 

He reaches for his phone again. 

"Actually, Janine. The Kaliber can wait. I've got stuff to do tonight.... I know love, I know... But... Tactical masterclasses don't plan themselves..." 

He's got all that stuff out of the way now and got a job to do Critch. 


Saturday, May 13, 2023

The case for Stephen Dobbie.

I don't own a football club. I haven't got enough money. Actually, thinking about it, I probably could scrape together enough cash to form an u14s side and register them in a league, but I'd have to ask for donations from the parents towards the kit and footballs etc. 

This isn't a prelude to me asking if you want to join my Patreon page or owt so I can afford to set up a club in my image. It's me trying to explain that I'm not entirely conversant with the dilemma facing Simon Sandler (sic) and his board. Actually... I mean just Simon Sandler (sic) 

Anyway, whilst I'm not entirely conversant with his situation, I can use my imagination. I'd probably find running an U14s football club a *bit stressful* because other people who aren't me would have their ideas about how it should be run. 

In fact, I'd probably actively avoid the situation for fear that the football dads called me a "fucking muppet" or "a cunt of a retard" or "a cunting shit for brains blogging nonce dickhead who couldn't run a football team to save his fucking life" 

What I would worry about is that I'd bow to the pressure of the group and eventually end up doing what they want just to appease them. I'd pick the players and tactics that the group felt best. 

I'd start to second guess myself. I'd start to fight internally with my own mind. 

This is what responsibility can do. I'm feeling a bit panicky now and I'm only thinking about an imaginary scenario that hasn't actually and isn't going to happen. I am never going to run any football club. 

The thing about football fans is that opinions change quicker than the wind. What's right one week is moronic the next. 

When we sacked Mick I was utterly convinced that we needed to search far and wide. Now I'm convinced that we've already got a perfect answer in the building. I am a vacuous moron with changing views. I am the mob. 

So, in essence... this is my long winded attempt to explain what we should do without the weight of any responsibility for the actual decision. 

The case for Stephen Dobbie

1) At the outset of his reign Mr Sandler (sic) set out a vision of good football with young players and incremental progress. 

Stephen Dobbie plays good football with young players and both the first team under his brief stewardship and the youth teams under his control have made progress. 

2) The actual style of football is secondary to the case. A good manager has to be able to communicate a plan that the players both understand and is within their capabilities to deliver. That has to be achieved through a blend of coaching, practice, motivation and well times decisions. In the six first team games we've seen, there have been very few (if any) examples of players who didnt appear to understand their job or believe they could do it. 

Sure, there were some errors or poor decisions on the pitch but at no point did we look like we didn't have a plan. In every game we've had relatively long spells of control or attack and most impressively, we've been able to reassert ourselves in a match after a period of pressure - something we've almost never done this season. 

Whatever style he played, Dobbie achieved the basics of putting on performances fans could back because he'd clearly prepared the team well. That's the bottom line.

3) Not everyone wants Dobbie. Most people do though. He's the reverse of Michael Appleton in that respect. I have sympathy around the Appleton mess. I can see the logic. I, to an extent, applaud the bravery of going against the grain and taking a risk. Risks are required. It clearly backfired. Risks wouldn't be risks if there wasn't a risk a risk would backfire. Football is nothing without the prospect of failing. This week's idiocy is last week's stroke of genius. 

Anyway... We're at a different point now. Things are unsettled. Ben Mansford has swapped the ire of the West Stand for the peace and tranquility of proximity to the West Bank. Brett Gerrity has moved back to the stands. The lad with a weird job title like 'Chief Strategic officer of Football Synergy' has been dispatched. The club will make no further comment etc. 

I've already written all that the other week. The point, for me, is that Dobbie buys time. 

On the whole, there was patience with Critchley. Granted, we'll never know what the vibe would have been with fans present but by and large there was an acknowledgement that the board were undertaking a project and the project had some value to it and we'd need to stick with it for a bit and see where it went. Mostly. 

We need a similar scale of project. We need another rebuild and Dobbie starts from a position of popularity. He's the corner piece of a jigsaw. 

If we are serious about making our club a place where young players thrive and we blood them early, then we need to have a positive atmosphere. We need to have a manager who supporters trust. We need to have a culture whereby a mistake, a misjudgment, a naivety isn't punished with toxic rage. They will be part of the growth. They are integral to that vision. 

It isn't Dobbie or bust but any other choice will either be come with either suspicion and need to prove themselves or bring more disruption and turnover of staff and players after a season where we could have just written 'turmoil' across the club crest and called it done. To torture the metaphor, anyone else is potentially the corner piece of a different jigsaw we don't yet possess. Dobbie lets us start today. 

4) It's proof of a belief in what we've done to date. In a season where the structure has come under fire, it shows there is, to some extent, a structure. 

It's tempting when relegated to look at all the bad things. There have been bad things. There have also been good things. Stephen Dobbie is one of them. 

If we're a club focussed on youth and progression then what possibly could speak of it more than the fact we trust our staff to step up? 

Dobbie would be a manifest example of taking your opportunity when it arrives and doing so fearlessly. That's the precise ethos we need for the young players we want our future to be built on to work within. 

If a 19 year old can drop into the first team (and we have to, if we want to do the thing we originally intended to do) them why can't a manager of 40 years life experience do so too? 

If Arteta can start at Arsenal and Pep at Barca (and so on) why can't Dobbie start with us? If he's good enough to have been entrusted with age groups (our clubs future) them why on earth can't he be responsible for our present? 

Why would Liverpool's youth coach be good enough to manage our senior players but our own (with his own rich and varied playing career in addition to his credentials as a coach) not? Surely it can't simply come down to Critch having an FA BTEC in coaching? 

5) It would enable the club to switch off twitter for a bit cos most of the mob (hi @Blackpoolfc 👋) would be appeased and if it turned to shit, the club could have megabants like "last fucking time we listen to you lot!" 

6) His beard. It's so good it deserves mentioning again. 

It's not up to me of course. I don't imagine it is, nor do I imagine that everything is as simple as I make it out to be. Without a debate then a football crowd are just 'consumers' and the game is just a 'product' 

We argue. We love. We hope. 

If it's not Dobbie, so be it. I like some of the other names rumoured. I just sense that Dobbie is a story that needs to play out. The brief flash of style that has been the last six games has captured my heart. I want more. 


Sunday, May 7, 2023

What next?

This season has been such a desperate disapointment that I've no desire to review it. We had no midfield, the things we did made very little sense. We recruited badly. The board more or less all left.. Some guy from Coventry apparently gave the team out in the pub. Allegedly. He came. He went. He didn't conquer. The sad eyed gravedigger never found the magic combination and Mick's attempts to motivate Ian Poveda with a mixture of tough love and Werther's Originals was an abject failure. 

Good times were sparse. Everyone got sent off or injured. Jerry scored goals. Jud defended well. Patino had a banging chant. Josh Bowler was the best footballer I'd seen for years, then a flickering faded ghostly half forgotten concussed and confused memory of himself. We beat PNE. We lost to PNE. There's not a lot more to it really. 

So... what now? (Apart from Norwich away?) 

We're heading down with loads of questions. Who, what, when? They apply to the team. They apply to the coaching staff. They apply to the board and the structure that manages the club. It's either a recipe for chaos or big red button marked 'factory reset.' 

Which it is, I don't know. As yet, Simon Sadler has not contacted me and said 'MCLF - as the the third best Blackpool FC based blog on the internet, I want to thank you for your unstinting commitment to quality content like AI generated pictures of Gary Madine in various unlikely circumstances and your seeming never ending ability to mention long standing resentment over the release of Sullay Kaikai with an exclusive, no holds barred, Piers Morgan style interview with me'  

The King of England.

I can only guess based on the shite on the internet that everyone else guesses about. 

Who will be the next manager? I don't know. I hope it's Stephen Dobbie because I like the way we've played, I like his fearless tactical approach, I think he's communicated well to players and probably the most consistent period of performances has come under his tenure - which is no small feat when you think about how listless and uninspired some of the performances have been this year. 

It could, of course, be Pete Wild, Richie Wellens or anyone else. I'm ok with that but I do think that if A.N. Other Manager gets the job and isn't immediately successful there's a distinct possibility that we'll be tempted to shout 'this chap isn't quite what we're after Mr Sadler. Do give that nice Mr Dobbie a chance my good fellow' in the direction of the directors box. 

Dobbie has given us an intoxicating glimpse of death or glory football with motivated young players playing with some joy and desire - once you've opened that box, it's hard to close the lid again. 

The appointment of a manager is the easy bit though. As long as it's someone competent who isn't wedded to belting the ball forward aimlessly, Neil McDonald, Lee Clarke or some kind of fan baiting villain from our local rivals then, I think we're good. 

I know the club read this as they nicked the Gary Madine in the sea meme from me. I am absolutely not challenging you to appoint the elasticator. 

The biggest job is going to be giving the manager the tools for the job. We've gone down this year because we've not had a balanced squad from the outset. We knew this. On paper, it's fine saying 'if player x or y can get fit' but in practice, it leaves you short. So many times we've had players out of position or simply the wrong balance of attributes in the key parts of the pitch. Super Gaz leading the press like a tired bull chasing rabbits till it falls over. The flimsy midfield made of tissue paper being ripped to bits and then disintegrating in the rain. Kids in the centre of defence looking a bit like they've gone to play on the motorway but are now frightened of the big trucks and noise. 

We have difficult choices to make on the future of some of our players. Is it fair to judge all of them on the basis of a season where the team they played in was so often a bit dysfunctional?  Can we judge Shayne Lavery's future fairly by his cameos on the wing? Can we really say if Sonny Carey is an intelligent and skillful technical player with a big future or not because he's been midfield ratting most of the season. Is Marvin the panic stricken error prone red card waiting to happen or the calm, poised player from the season before? Do we go all out to keep Yates (unlikely as that may be) or do we put our faith in others and take the cash? 

These are tough decisions. What we think we have will dictate what we need to go and get. With the fabric of the club looking a little more threadbare than it did even a few months ago, who is going to make that happen? Are we all over the global market, searching high and low for that elusive energetic, physical midfielder who combines presence and quality? Are we already talking to the best of the released players from here, there and everywhere about how they can restart their career with Blackpool? What vision are we selling them? Who is doing that selling? 

I don't know. The point is, we're kind of back where we were in 2020. Kind of. Lots of things have improved. We've got a nice portakabin (sorry, modular building) and blippy tickets and the ground has been tarted up and lots of plans to build things at some point somewhen which we'll take at face value... but in footballing terms, we've got a squad of players, some of whom have been knocking around for a while whose futures are on the line and definitely the need to go and get quite a few new ones.

We did that well in 2020. but the people who did that are all gone. We don't have (unless Dobbie has known he's getting the job since day one of his tenure) the luxury of the months of Covid inactivity for Critchley and committee to plan precisely what they want...

Again. No!

I think the overwhelming point is - there's a real need to get on with it. The previous summer was marked by failed transfers that dragged on and uncertainty. Football is a capricious mistress. No one can possibly guarantee success and every club can get it wrong. We have to risk a decision though. We have to commit to what we're doing because there's so much to be done. We haven't got time for cautious and careful deliberation. 

We need a manager and a coaching staff. We need a squad. We need to replace some of the key players and voices in the existing unit. We need to bond those new players together and the manager to instil his ideas into them. We may very well require some of the decision makers and administrators to make the above happen.  

Where does the vision come from? Does the sporting director serve the managers vision or vice versa. As we have neither, which one comes first. Who fits around who? If there's no board in place, how do you do the recruitment in the first place? 

Why doesn't wor Simon just buy big Gaz a pint and the two of them work it out together? 

Sometimes modern football seems very complicated to me. I'm all for just giving it to Dobbie and hoping for the best. 

If nothing else, he's got a great beard. 


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Yet another bad owner. Where do they breed them?

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