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Hayley Wheeler - Battling Blackpool deserve to avoid relegation

Published: 13 Apr 2011 - 12:02:51

We are now deep into the business end of the season and the battle for a Champions League spot is almost as tight as the fight for survival at the bottom of the table.

With only seven games remaining, I wouldn't want to hedge my bets either way. This nail-biting excitement is what makes us love the game, and this league. Now more than ever, the league is open for a number of twists and turns before the end of the season, evidently, with only seven points separating the relegation places and 9th in the table.

Before the season got underway, one of the teams that seemed a sure bet to face relegation was Blackpool. I had no idea what to expect from the Tangerines in their debut appearance in England's top tier but The Seasiders have endeared themselves to football fans up and down the country with their captivating football and their charismatic and volatile manager.

Never before have fans been in such anticipation for a pre-match press conference, as they are with Ian Holloway. Rarely have press conferences got so many hits on YouTube as they have when featuring the Blackpool boss. The man is a living, breathing, emotional yoyo.

One minute he is berating the FA, the Premier League, referees, players and managers, the next he is reducing a room full of professional journalists into stitches of laughter. One thing is for sure, much like his team, he never fails to entertain.

Their frivolous spirit is infectious and I look forward to seeing what they will produce on a weekly basis. Their gung-ho attitude has not necessarily been the most efficient, but quite frankly, who cares? They have been a breath of fresh air in a league where so much money is thrown around and the pressure on the players and managers detracts from any level of enjoyment either can draw from the game.

But Blackpool have managed to retain the essence of the game, which should ultimately be pleasure for all involved. As perpetual underdogs, they fear no one, yet teams fear them. They have surpassed all expectations thus far, working with the tightest of budgets, proving that money can buy you players, but it certainly can't buy you passion.

You never quite know what to expect from Blackpool, but you can rest assured you're always in for a goal-fest, as highlighted in their first two games in the premier league - a 4-0 victory over relegation rivals Wigan, followed by a 6-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Sadly, their romance with the top half of the table was short lived, due to their attacking style of play which leaves them dangerously exposed to being caught on the break, which was demonstrated at Bloomfield Road this weekend when they took on Arsenal. True to form they went out all guns blazing leaving themselves vulnerable to the counter-attack, and the Gunners took full advantage of their frailty.

Obviously, a major factor in Blackpool's survival hopes has been their ability to hang on to Scottish midfielder Charlie Adam. He has been courted by Liverpool and Tottenham but the club's chairman, Karl Oyston, quite rightly refused to sell him. He will no doubt be finding pastures new at the end of the season but for now he is vital ammunition in The Pool's survival battle.

I hope for football's sake that The Tangerines will be in the Premier League next season and entertaining us all with their flamboyant approach to the beautiful game.DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Hayley Wheeler
Despite being born and bred in the country, Hayley is a football-mad Tottenham Hotspur fan. Away from the beautiful game she has been eventing her own horses for over 20 years, having previously been a human and equine sports therapist. She has now turned her hand to sport journalism and hopes to one day be gracing your television screen broadcasting the game she loves. Follow Hayley on Twitter @Hayleywsport

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