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View From The Town End: Blackpool

So game 4 of 46 on the horizon and to help bring us up to speed on our opponents Blackpool we spoke to Tangerines blogger Chris Walker who writes for Measured Progress

Clive Brunskill

How would you sum up Blackpool's start to the season?

The best way of describing it is probably to say it's been unrepresentative. Seven points from the opening three games is of course a strong start, but we have been a little fortunate. Performances against Doncaster and Barnsley were not hugely inspiring, but wins were ground out nonetheless. It looked like it would be three out of three against Middlesbrough, but for a stoppage time equaliser for Tony Mowbray's men. Today the manager himself has said the results have "papered over the cracks" which shows he hasn't been entirely happy despite getting points on the board.

It's also unrepresentative in the fact that we're no closer to knowing what our best XI is, and as a result what style of football we'll play. The opening three fixtures have seen Blackpool play quite defensively, as Paul Ince has been adapting his tactics to the players available. He's made no secret of his dissatisfaction with the size of the squad, and having lost around 15 players in the summer the club is still very short on players and doesn't even have a recognised right back in the squad. Injuries, suspensions and players who have not had a full pre-season have forced Ince's had somewhat. It might be October before we really begin to see how the manager wants his side to play, and the results that will come with the chosen style.

It's safe to say things have been on the slide at the club since that heady season in the Premier League, what's going wrong at the club right now?

Where do I start? There have been so many mistakes made since winning promotion that it would require an entire a book to explain it all. Essentially though, the perceived slide stems from a frustration that despite enjoying the Premier League windfall, the modus operandi of the club hasn't changed. That being: spend as little as possible to get by - on the team, on the pitch and on the training ground. Of course, the owners can be accused of rank hypocrisy in this regard having paid majority shareholder Owen Oyston an £11m salary in 2010/11. Questions have also been asked about whether the money has been put to best use by buying back a plot of land for over £6.5m that the club had sold to Oyston for £650,000 only years earlier.

Ian Holloway, no doubt believing his achievements had merited more backing from the board, grew frustrated with the lack of funds at his disposal and after the failure to land DJ Campbell on loan (again!) last September, he was always looking for a way out. He almost went to Blackburn before a Shebby Singh u-turn, but he instead jumped ship for Palace and repeated his play-off success with Blackpool there. Michael Appleton ran out of patience even more quickly and did go to Ewood Park, a decision that even looked ludicrous at the time given Blackburn's ownership issues under the Venkys, but it only showed how eager he was to get out of Bloomfield Road as quickly as he had arrived.

Since then Paul Ince steadied the ship on the playing side, preventing relegation when it began to look like a genuine concern. There may also be some long overdue acknowledgement from the owners too that things need to change, with much-needed investment in the playing surface over the summer to prevent a repeat of last season's farcical state. The club is at a crossroads now - the squad is woefully under-staffed, but the summer's acquisitions to date have largely been positive. Ince needs backing to get the players in he needs before the end of the transfer window and if that happens, the prospect of reversing our downwards momentum is greatly improved.

What are your best memories of Blackpool v Reading?

It would probably have to be the 1-0 home win two seasons ago. In my time following Blackpool, our encounters have more often than not seen us come out on the losing side, so even a narrow win over Reading is to be celebrated. Callum McManaman, on loan from Wigan, scored a good goal that day.

And the worst?

In 2009/10 we lost 2-1 at the Madejski and while a close scoreline we really should have lost by a larger margin. Reading had been on a long run of failing to win at home and despite your dominance it looked like we might nick a point. Unfortunately for us a fairly late Grzegorz Rasiak goal won it for you resulting in a lot of noise from the home fans relieved to finally see a win, including a certain chant suggesting we weren't very good because you were winning a home match.

Who should Reading fans be wary of on Saturday?

The two key players most fans would identify - Tom Ince and Matt Phillips - will both miss the game through injury. That has significantly impacted the way we play, with Paul Ince fielding a very defensive 4-5-1 at the Riverside. It might be similar again, with us aiming to nullify your threats and sneak a goal from a set-piece. Gary MacKenzie and Kirk Broadfoot both pose a danger from corners and that's where we're most likely to score.

Any Reading player that Blackpool fans are worried about?

All of them! I would be genuinely surprised if Reading aren't promoted this season, as the squad is packed with players who can hurt any team at this level. I've long been an admirer of Jem Karacan and Jobi McAnuff, while I thought the signing of Danny Williams was a great bit of business as a player who I've seen a lot of in the Bundesliga. Pavel Pogrebnyak and Adam Le Fondre will be a handful up front too.

Any travel tips for visiting Royals?

Hope for sun! I'm sure many Reading fans will be taking advantage of a long bank holiday weekend and although opposing fans often like to chant about Blackpool being a shithole, it's often those very same people who come here for their holidays. The bright lights of the prom are obviously the main attraction, but any Royals making a weekend of it and fancying something more sedate could do worse than visit leafy Lytham.

Score prediction?

Paul Ince will probably aim to keep it tight, but I can't see us keeping you out completely. I'll go for 1-1 with our goal from a set-piece.

Thanks again to Chris and you can follow him on twitter@onedavebamber

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