Blackpool: Can The Inces Stop The Oyston Madness?

A League win and a League Cup loss shows the thinness of Blackpool's squad but if they can keep golden boy Tom Ince and add strength in depth, a much stronger year ahead is possible.
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A League win and a League Cup loss shows the thinness of Blackpool's squad but if they can keep golden boy Tom Ince and add strength in depth, a much stronger year ahead is possible.

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A new season brings new madness for Blackpool, a club that likes to do things the hard way.

A mini flurry of last minute signings have given the manager, Paul Ince- whose late appointment last season saved the club from relegation- some breathing space. Add to this the fact that his son Tom turned down a transfer to Cardiff City and you have the barest of bare bone squads with 13 senior players to start the season; but armed with names like Ince Junior and the recently arrived Chopra and Steven Davies, who are quite capable of doing the business on the pitch and you have that strangest of feelings- slight hope.

There have been endless message boards full of rumblings of dissatisfaction with the way that the club chair, Karl Oyston, runs affairs and certainly the Premiership parachute money doesn't seem to have gone back into the club in any big measure. But at least the pitch is now a shade of green again, after the strange almost medieval turnip patch of last year which was barely legal, scrappily unplayable and a standing joke; not to mention of great interest to fans of obscure worms that got the blame for creating the most bizarre playing surface in modern football.

It's been almost a year since Ian Holloway broke everyone's hearts and buggered off to some town called Crystal Palace to manage their football side, taking his curious water-colour paintings with him. The larger than life character, who seemed so perfect at Blackpool, proved hard to replace- especially with a Scrooge like chairman holding the purse strings, terrifying most applicants away and most of the season seemed to be spent in a grimly determined slide away from a promotion chasing club to a brush with relegation with a clutch of managers dancing around on the decks of a sinking ship. With one, Michael Appleton, being so desperate with the situation that he even left to go to Blackburn Rovers to work for the poultry farmers before they culled him.

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Blackpool's slide down the table was the most pointless (in more ways than one) crash and burn anyone can remember and it was a relief when the Tangerine's anus horribilis came to an end, with the club being saved by the appointment of Paul Ince who had been at the club all season looking out for his son: the calmly level headed Tom, who at many points of the season seemed to be the only sane person at the club.

A new season brings new hope though and even with a severely depleted squad, the brace of last minute canny signings means that there is a faint air of optimism around Blackpool despite the bookies seemingly determined to dump them out of the Championship.

Of course it will take time for the mini squad to gel and there are more new signings promised. God knows how many and how cheap but it's all about who blinks first - Paul Ince or Oyston- the fact that that the manager is not nicknamed the guvnor for nothing gives fans hope as he attempts to prize open one of the steeliest vaults in football. One hidden away in a boardroom lined by the timbers from an ancient ship wreck on Blackpool beach, giving it the air of an Arthur Daley saving money by using driftwood or of a pirate's lair were the doubloons and ill-gotten gain are squirreled away.

Fortunately the season has started with a tidy 3-1 away to newly promoted Doncaster Rovers which is a fine start, especially in a game that seemed to heading for a draw until the Pool remembered that they were actually a good, if very thin side.

An early season away trip to a newly promoted club with a lot to prove and still enjoying the warm glow of promotion is never an easy number and it's a great start to the season.

God knows where it will go from here; mid-table Championship is what the club is capable of at a minimum but without proper investment it could be that most cliched of cliches, somehow apt in the context of the the UK's number one holiday resort: a real roller-coaster ride...