Everybody’s second team, Blackpool went down after their valiant fight to stay in the Premiership in their first season at the top flight. Ian Holloway and co. can look back on the season with their heads held high, but may look back at some results where they were leading game, but finished with out the points. Where as Birmingham City have gone from Carling Cup winners to a Championship team within a few months.
Blackpool’s Brave Battle
Blackpool’s attacking, never say never, don’t look back style won the hearts of many, and undoubtedly made their own fans hearts race and kept them on the edge of their seats, but with that 100 commitment to attack, they were always likely to leak goals, and leak goals they did. The last game of the season against Manchester United proved to be one of the most poignant examples of this were they managed to get a 2-1 lead, but then end up losing 4-2. Many games in their season were like this, and they gave the Premiership multiple classic exciting end to end matches. Half way through the season it looked as if Blackpool were safe sitting well above the relegation zone, but after a terrible run of loses they found themselves precariously near the danger zone, and as that poor form started to get better, it seemed to be too late as they dropped into the bottom three. But for a team that everyone had written off before a ball had been kicked back in June, with the preconception of them being the whipping boys of the league, the 6-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal on the second days of the season didn’t help, but they came out and showed everyone what they had to offer with some memorable wins against Liverpool twice, Tottenham, and the thrilling 4-3 win against Bolton.
With the January transfer window being used to bring in players, Blackpool had to fight tooth and nail to keep on player, Charlie Adam, at the club, with Liverpool interested in signing him and then the last ditch attempt by Harry Redknapp and Daniel Levy to do a deal for him with minutes to go until the transfer window shut. With all of the transfer speculation surrounding Adam, it seemed to have an affect on him and the team as that seems to be when their slump began.
With all that being said Ian Holloway has done a great job at Blackpool, who in truth are not a premiership team, but if they had managed to stay up they could have started to build themselves into one, but now with the likes of Charlie Adam and Ian Holloway no doubt going to be well sort after, the hard job for Blackpool will be to re-create what has happened here, and miracles don’t always come back around so quickly.
Birmingham City’s Decline
Birmingham City have gone from Carling Cup winners to a relegated Premiership team in a free fall all have watched happened and have all been left wondering just how that has happened. Like West Ham, Birmingham have had players playing in great form but still unable to win enough games. Foster did so well he earned an England call up where as Roger Johnson had been in superb form and it was talked about Johnson being called up to the Squad but that never happened. Scott Dann, Liam Ridgewell and Craig Gardner have all been in good form this season for Birmingham, with Gardner being Birmingham’s top goal scorer with 8. But they weren’t enough to keep the side up, and next season, it will be interesting to see who will stay and who will go, as no doubt some Premiership teams, as well as newly promoted clubs will be interested in them. That was Birmingham’s main problems all season, scoring goals, with McLeish doing what he could during the January transfer window to try and resolve that with Obafemi Martins coming in, but he only managed 2 goals and that was one in the FA Cup and the other was the winner in the Carling Cup which he described as “The easiest goal I have ever scored in my career”. Martins finished the season recovery from surgery after being diagnosed with a stress fracture of the left tibia. Zigic was Birmingham’s highest scoring striker with 5 goals and then with 4 is veteran midfielder Lee Bowyer. McLeish had hoped at the beginning of the season that the signings of Zigic, Hleb and Jean Beausejour. Zigic has scored some goals but with Birmingham spending £6 million on him, that works out being £1.2 million a goal, which is not a good return on an investment. Hleb on loan has been a flop, with what people can remember of him while at Arsenal, his performances were nowhere near that, but Beausejour put in a shift and helped Birmingham when they were winning. The January signings of Martins didn’t work out as planned but as spoken about earlier he did score the winner against Arsenal to win the Carling Cup, and David Bentley didn’t exactly work out either.
Out of the bottom 6 that were involved in “survival Sunday” Birmingham City had the best defensive record only conceding 58. Blackburn conceded 59 while conceded Wigan 61, Wolves 66, West Ham 70 and Blackpool conceding the most in the Premiership with 78. But where as Blackpool conceded the most they also scored the most out of the bottom six clubs scoring 55, Birmingham’s problems lay with not scoring enough goals only scoring 37, the least in the Premiership. So maybe if Ian Holloway and Alex McLeish worked together at a club they could have a really strong team on their hands.
Out of the three team that’s have been relegated, it is hard to say who has the best chance of coming straight back up. Blackpool are a team that most will hope can, but with players such as Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell more than likely to go, and with their being a question mark over whether Ian Holloway will be offered a job and a more secure job, the chances of Blackpool coming back up look highly unlikely.
Birmingham will have to keep Alex McLeish and he will need to keep his best players if they want to go straight back up, as if he can keep the core of his team which comprises of Foster, Carr, Johnson, Ridgewell, Dann, Larsson and Gardner then with a few good strikers I don’t see why they couldn’t. But how likely is it that no Premiership team are going to come in for some if not all those players, so Birmingham will face the same problem as West Ham.
West Ham are going to lose their star players such as Parker, Upson, Green, Ba and maybe also Noble and Hitzlsperger. But unlike Birmingham they don’t have a good manager to keep a hold off, instead they need to be looking around for one, and in my opinion a manager that can motivate players and already has the experience of winning promotion and dealing with a poorly run club would be Chris Hughton. But West Hams biggest problem which also is Birmingham’s is the owners of the respective clubs. Both teams would far better with better people in charge, Next Season is going to be another interesting one in the Championship that’s or sure!