Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fulham linked to interest in Matt Ritchie

The latest news from columnist Neil Fissler, at The Football League Paper, suggests that Fulham are ready to make a bid for the right winger in the January window. Ritchie is said to have a current market value of around £4, but AFCB are not exactly hard up for funds these days. Still the hardest part of the season could be just around the corner for Eddie Howe with the January transfer window soon to open. Keeping his squad of dazzling players together is perhaps helped by the fact that the Cherries are a point ahead at the top of the table, and that could be enough to keep key players like Matt Ritchie on the south coast for some time yet.
Matt Ritchie is in demand, but has found
life on the south coast rather to his liking.
While it might be tempting for players at some clubs to be linked with moves come January I don't expect any of the AFCB players to be seeking a move out of this squad which is already creating history and is on the verge of something really special. Eddie Howe has a squad that believe in him and in the direction that the club is going and to attract players away from the Cherries will be hard enough for teams already in the Premier League let alone those in mid-table in the Championship.

Matt Ritchie still has two years left on his contract having signed for three and a half years in January 2013 when he moved from Swindon Town for a bargain £0.5m. Having won the League Two and League One player of the year trophies, Matt has started to impress in the Championship and it is no surprise if he does attract some interest. The value of Matt though has surely gone through the roof since teams have seen what he has been capable of with six goals this season. His link up play with Simon Francis is a shear delight to see and while Fulham might still have money to spend from their Premier League parachute payment it is unlikely that the Cherries would want to cash in on the talent of a man that is already helping them to sweep most sides aside in the Championship.


Fulham might just have to look elsewhere if they want to bolster their squad. On Boxing Day though they will at least get the chance to see the winger in action up close, but Fulham may find that they are undone by the sharp shooting of Ritchie, who has scored four of those goals in his last three games.

I bet Eddie can't stop smiling

To be honest, every AFCB fan had a beaming big smile across their face on Saturday afternoon after either seeing or hearing of yet another outstanding performance by this Cherries team. The disappointment of the League Cup quarter final was swept away in a first half that saw the Cherries dominate a Blackpool side who simply had no answer to a Bournemouth team that was intent on sending out a message to those who might say that AFCB can't stay at the top of the Championship.
AFCB are not in a false position and Eddie Howe has plenty to smile about.
Earlier last week I recall Mike Parry of TalkSport suggesting that it was a temporary rise to the summit for the seasiders, but on the evidence of what we have seen at Bloomfield Road and St Andrews earlier in the season, the Everton fan is out of touch with the class team of the Championship. He may well take note now as many of the other pundits and commentators already have. But before AFCB fans think that the party is well underway, that is not the message from Eddie Howe who is merely focusing on the next game and not popping any Champagne corks. When asked by BBC Solent's Kris Temple if Eddie and the boys would be opening any bottles on the long journey home Eddie Howe gave a simple reply: "Are you sure? Are you sure? You don't know me very well, do you Kris. There'll be no bottles cracked open on the bus tonight. Not approved by me. For me it's all about hard work at this time of the year."

It means that there is lots of hard work still to come this Christmas for the Cherries as they seek perhaps not perfection, but certainly a large haul of wins that will help them extend their gap at the top of the league. The hurdles are coming thick and fast and while avoiding a potential character test away at Blackpool there is an equally massive test coming up on Boxing Day against Fulham, who put four past Sheffield Wednesday this weekend. 

I suggest you pull up a chair and get yourself down to the Goldsands stadium for some Christmas entertainment, because this Cherries side deserves the whole town's support now and not just the regulars. Cheer them on to three more points and give them the support they merit for setting the Championship alight. See you on Boxing Day!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

AS IT HAPPENED: Bottom of the pile Blackpool battered 1-6 by Cherries

Match Description


Blackpool v AFCB
20 December 2014
Attendance: 10,014

Well what would a defeat against Liverpool do to the morale of an AFCB side that had been dominating games before that defeat? The answer was that it would make them even more determined to top the table come Christmas and would stack up an incredible 50 goals after playing 22 league games. The team on the end of this today was Blackpool, who did their best with making the pitch hard to play on, but it did not stop Bournemouth's tide of attacks from rushing in over the sand-sodden pitch to wash away any resistance that Blackpool could muster. AFCB are on the crest of a wave and it's hard to know how teams in the Championship can stop them in this form.

Eddie Howe knew that his team were still top of the league going into this match having heard that Derby Co and Norwich City had drawn 2-2 earlier in the day. The pitch at Bloomfield Road was not conclusive to playing pretty passing football from the description that Kris Temple and John Williams gave on BBC Radio Solent, but AFCB knew what was needed if they were to regain their table topping position over Christmas. Eddie Howe reverted to the starting line up that took on Cardiff City the week before and it was eyes down to see if they could perform as well away from home against the bottom team in the league. Blackpool just made one change with O'Keefe coming in place of Jacob Murphy. 


Jason Tindall confirms the AFCB team news.

Match Description: listening to BBC Radio Solent - Kris Temple and Willo

Blackpool in white and tangerine today, AFCB are in their blue kit. It's windy and blustery. Blackpool get a goal kick. Blackpool denied by Elphick as Chris Eagles came forward. Foley into the box and Elphick and Daniels clear. Blackpool playing 4-1-4-1. Kennedy gets a cross in and AFCB clear with Blackpool offside. AFCB have the wind with them in this first half.

Perkins wins a free kick. Kennedy with a pony tail plays the ball out to Davies, but Blackpool lose possession. Elphick now puts the ball out - five minutes gone. Perkins on the left wing hits his cross wide. Surman now comes forward and Pugh loses the ball to Eagles. Francis clears up. Daniels into Pugh and cannons it in off Foley for a corner. Brett takes the corner. Ritchie has a snap shot but it's cleared.

Wilson to Arter and his cross goes behind. Wilson holds off Clarke. Francis now down the right and Arter takes a tough but O'Hara wins the ball. Pugh and Pitman's shot goes for a goal kick. Surman is hobbling a bit. There's a strange empty atmosphere at Bloomfield Road. Kennedy and Elphick comes forward to Pugh on the left. Nosworthy cushions a header. Daniels into Pugh and Pitman's though has a heavy touch and the ball is gone. McMahon beings the ball away and now Kennedy. Elphick barges into Davies.

Eagles to take the free kick on 12 minutes. Boruc and Cook clear the ball. Foley takes the throw to O'Hara. O'Keefe crosses and Pugh clears. Elphick powers a header forward. Arter on half way. Francis now and Arter over runs it to Lewis in goal. Blackpool's keeper, Lewis, hits the ball against Wilson! Daniels to Pugh and a good cross that Clarke heads away. Ritchie and Francis on the right, he goes back. Pugh 25 yards out, Blackpool clear.

Elphick puts the ball out on 15 minutes. Surman seems okay now. Pugh and Arter. Ritchie is surrounded by three Blackpool players but escapes. Pitman and Ritchie past Perkins and it's gone in! How did that get past the keeper? One of the tamest goals you'll ever see and one of the most delayed reactions you'll ever see," says Kris Temple. It looked like the ball had gone wide but it is 0-1 to the Cherries after 18 minutes.

Elphick is involved in some heading practise and Cook. Daniels is playing very well in these first 20 minutes. "Dodgy keeper," shouts an AFCB fan! Ritchie and Wilson lofts the ball in but Foley has the ball and wins a throw off Pitman. Eagles and Frances wins the tackle. AFCB still passing well despite the poor surface. Pitman is fouled by McMahon, free kick.

Eagles and Davies but Francis finds Ritchie. Nosworthy up to Perkins who has been playing regularly for Blackpool. Blackpool have use 34 players already this season and AFCB only 21. Volleyed forward by Lewis. Elphick and Arter and McMahon wins the ball and Cook up to Wilson against Nosworthy who gets a foot in! Ritchie and Francis and Surman. Daniels and Pugh now on the sand and its a throw off Nosworthy.

Elphick launches the ball in but Lewis claims the ball. Clarke and Wilson beats him. Daniels back to Surman keeping the ball alive and Pugh has a shot. A hash of a save but Lewis keeps it out ahead of Pitman. Pretty unconvincing from Lewis.

The Cherries have a throw with 27 minutes gone. AFCB knocking it around well. Foley now though but Arter and Cook clear up. Pugh now on the edge of the box but the one-two with Pitman went wrong. Too heavy a touch from Pitman.

Davies from Eagles hits a bouncing bomb of a shot but Boruc has it covered. McMahon back to Lewis. Long to Elphick and Ritchie to Wilson. Arter a chest down to Wilson beats one man and goes down. Wilson lost his balance as the ref puts his hands down. Daniels chests it down. Arter fires the ball at Francis too heavy! Ritchie tries to get AFCB to lift the tempo.

"The opposite of Wolves' hostile environment here," says Kris Temple. Arter through to Wilson but the keeper comes out and Elphick wins a free kick. AFCB trying to make races for Wilson and it is almost coming off for the Cherries. Some 12 minutes to half time. A few Ola's from the Cherry fans. Wilson and Ritchie back to Wilson. Wilson is on the deck and a free kick is given to AFCB.

The ball is five yards out of the penalty area. Cook and Elphick come forward. The ball comes off Wilson and it's a goal kick. Blackpool have a free kick but put it wide. The Cherries are playing the ball around with seven minutes to half time. Daniels and Arter attacking right to left. Pugh now as the Tangerines can't get the ball. Ritchie's shot goes off a defender and out for a corner. Arter to Pugh against Perkins but Nosworthy clears. A Steve Cook long throw. Blackpool clear. Cook to Wilson and Pitman makes a handball, diving forward with his arm and is booked for unsporting conduct! Blackpool fans chant "Cheat!"

Arter nicks the ball from McMahon, Daniels and Arter back to Cook. Pitman heads on for Wilson and Ritchie to Arter now Surman and Pugh hits the defenders hand, nothing the defender could do no penalty. Daniels hooks the ball back in and Wilson pouches the ball into the net!! 0-2. Daniels chased a lost cause and Wilson had a tap in. "Pugh and Daniels are a team within a team," says Willo.

O'Hara to Eagles. Foley now and Elphick back pedals and Blackpool have their first corner. everyone ran away from the ball. Davies lofted it back in to Clarke and Boruc saves with his legs, but the flag goes up for offside anyway. Just one minute of extra time added. Wilson against Nosworthy who puts the ball out. Wilson against Foley and it's half time 0-2.

AFCB had 69 per cent possession in the first half and eight shots with four shots on target. Blackpool mustered three shots, two of which were on target.

Second Half
Eagles and O'Keefe have come off for Blackpool and Delfouneso and Murphy have replaced them. Cook back pedals and puts out the ball for a corner with Davies in close attendance. The whistle goes for an AFCB free kick. Ritchie up to Wilson and Ritchie at right back to Daniels and Pugh, Daniels' cross and Clarke clears. Surman to Pugh and Lewis come out in front of Wilson.

Murphy against Daniels and Murphy wins a throw. Cook heads away. O'Hara to Kennedy. Pitman handballs it and a free kick is given to Blackpool. Elphick heads it away Perkins back in and Clarke has a go, but the flag goes up as Boruc has the ball kicked out of his hands.

Murphy up to O'Hara and Davies cuts in field and hits a wide shot. Delfounso is quick and beats Francis but Surman clears. Kennedy now across goal and Francis hacks it clear. Arter finds Wilson, but Kennedy has the ball and Davies is offside. Elphick has the ball long to Nosworthy and Arter wins the ball. Foley gives the ball away. Ritchie and Pugh. Francis coming across. Elphick's first touch and McMahon wins the ball.

Wilson now curves his shot and wins a corner with an hour gone. Blackpool clear. Wilson one-on-one against Clarke into the penalty area, Pitman goes over and it's play on Arter into the box, tees up Surman, now Ritchie right side and on to his left foot and Ritchie tries to curl one and makes it 0-3! "That was pure class from Matt Ritchie," says Kris Temple. "Top left corner, bends it round Joe Lewis."

Some 14 minutes gone of the second half and AFCB are 0-3 up. Darren O'Dea comes on for Nosworthy. A chance again down the other side of the pitch. Rugby tackle by O'Dea and he has a yellow card after just coming on. Chest off by Wilson to find Pugh. Arter turns away from his man and Pitman back to Surman, Francis. Murphy wins the ball. Delfouneso shoots and that's not a bad effort but Boruc is up to it.

Perkins with Elphick chasing him back and Francis and cook bring the ball away. Blackpool make a low cross but Cook makes a low sliding clearance. Bournemouth are not satisfied with three goals here. In it comes and Pitman defends. Cross comes in and Ritchie blocks for a throw. Blackpool loft the ball back in. Cook sees it out. O'Hara and a push on Ritchie, no play on and O'Hara into the box is parried by Boruc and Delfouneso puts it in 1-3. The Cherries claimed a fee kick in the build up but it's back to 1-3. Ritchie should may be have just got rid of that says Kris Temple.

Now it's Wilson at the other end and he's through and brought down. A penalty. Darren O'Dea pushes over Wilson and it's a penalty. An immediate chance for AFCB to restore the three goal difference. Pitman has the ball. It was a clear penalty given by the assistant linesman. Pitman now with a long run up and it's a fantastic penalty, but it's an encroachment and he'll have to take it again. Same side same result, Pitman scores to make it 1-4. It takes a lot of nerve to do that, bottom right hand corner.

There's a yellow card for Steve Davies there for some back chat to the referee. Pitman has a double clenched fist salute to the AFCB supporters. Just 23 minutes to play now. Blackpool clear. Ritchie has the ball who is still on a hat-trick. Substitution, Yann Kermorgant comes on for Pitman on 70 minutes. Kermorgant flicks the ball on to Wilson. Arter on the edge of the box to Kermorgant but Wilson is offside.

This is going to be 12 league games undefeated for the Cherries. Arter to Ritchie and keeps the ball in. Up to Francis in the area pulls it back and over the crossbar! Kermorgant had his final shot tipped over by the keeper. "We used to call this pretty football." says Willo."But it's devastating football. It's pulverising Blackpool."

Blackpool clear and Ritchie has a right footed cross. In go the heads. It comes to the back post and Marc Pugh makes it five! 18 minutes left. It's good that the left hand side of the team have scored a goal, says Willo. "As they have deserved it." It was a low angled header. The keeper was not the best today.

Wilson is coming off and on comes Dan Gosling with Kermorgant playing up front own his own. This season AFCB have scored 49 goals in the league. Elphick makes a clearance. The ball comes across the top of the box and over to the far side with MacMahon. A firm challenge comes in from Gosling. Pugh to Gosling down the side and Arter is in he shoots and it's 1-6. it's Harry Arter yet again!

Still 14 minutes plus added time to go. "We are AFC Bournemouth, we score when we want rings out!" The Blackpool fans are leaving. "We want seven is the chant." A volley from Blackpool goes out of the stands - a terrible shot from MacMahon. "This is Christmas come early," says Kris Temple.

Here is another change Adam Smith comes on for Marc Pugh, 78 minutes gone. Davies puts a good cross across the area. Delfouneso almost sneaked between two defenders again. Arter is almost playing like a centre forward now. It's an excellent performance today.

Smith to Arter and Ritchie up to Surman and Gosling, sideways to Kermorgant, Daniels trying to get on on the act, overlap with smith and tries to pull a cross back, but there were almost too many blue shirts there in the end. Ritchie on a hat-trick is denied by a flying save! A corner then.

The last 10 minutes. Surman to Ritchie and Kermorgant goes round the keeper and oh no he has missed an open goal. Off balance, the goal was gaping and it should have been seven! He's hit it over the top with his weaker left foot. A foul on Steve Cook. gosling loses the ball. Daniels back to Smith but Blackpool clear.

Back to the keeper Lewis who clears. Perkins crosses but it passes everyone. Smith tracks back with Daniels. The passing is mesmerising, Ritchie tries to play Arter through the centre, but Arter trips. Ricthie now and Daniels is fouled. Ritchie to Smith whose shot is blacked.

Arter wins a free kick. This is five metres outside of the box. Arter has had a kick in the nose. Three minutes left. A chance for Kermorgant. It clips the wall and will be a corner. Francis shoots wide.

Heavy ball back to Gosling and Cook. Gosling tries to get round a defender. It's out for a Blackpool throw. "Visiting places beginning with B is proving a happy Satrurday afternoon experience," says Kris Temple. Ritchie into the area tries a curler but it's straight at Lewis. Three minutes to be added on.

The ball has ended up in the Cherries net but the flag is up. Boruc up to Kermorgant and Francis. Can the Cherries get a seventh with a minute left. Francis back to Surman and Elphick. "Six, cant be greedy," says Willo Kermorgant to Ritchie and O'Dea clears. Arter to Gosling and Ritchie at the edge of the box with Arter and the referee blows his whistle. Six one winners at Bloomfield Road. A terrific response from the Liverpool defeat. Five goalscorers for the Cherries.

Willo says "It's the way they have done it. They have passed Blackpool to death."

Summary
Incredulous is the only adjective I can think of to describe the explosive, open attacking play that the Cherries are now making their signature for performances away from home. The players were queuing up in this match to have a shot on goal by the end of this game. even Tommy Elphick, the only outfield AFCB player who has not yet scored fancied his luck of getting one today. All I will say is well done to the Blackpool fans who saw the game out and applauded the Cherries off the pitch. I give 10 out of 10 to those tangerine fans who braved up for that. As for AFCB, take a bow. We move on to the Fulham match on Boxing Day - more work to be done.

AFCB
Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Pugh (Smith78), Pitman (Kermorgant 70), Wilson (Gosling)

AFCB SubsCamp, Gosling, Smith, Kermorgant, Fraser, O'Kane, Cargill

Blackpool
Lewis, Foley, Nosworthy (O'Dea 60), Clarke, Kennedy, McMahon, O'Keefe (Murphy 46), Eagles (Delfouneso 46), O'Hara, Perkins, Davies

Blackpool Subs
Orlandi, Delfouneso, Miller, Parish, Murphy, Waddington, O'Dea

Cherries on Top

Sponsored Article

I am pleased to be able to say that we have a guest column today on Cherry Chimes. To share some wisdom over the festive season and before the January transfer window, freelance journalist Matthew Harris has kindly prepared this article to give an update to Championship supporters that might be surprised at AFC Bournemouth's rise to see what might be in store for our beloved south coast club in the season. It's over to you Matthew.

There’s not many amongst even the most hopeful of Bournemouth fans that could honestly say that they are where they expected to be at this point of the season. Having topped the league in December and made a quarter final appearance in the League Cup is surely cause for some to wonder, when they will wake up from this amazing dream?

Well Deserved
But as true as it is that the final table never lies, Bournemouth are not in what could be called a ‘false position’ and their position in the Championship betting market is fully deserved. The Cherries set the tone with an opening day thrashing of Huddersfield away and have not looked back since. At various points in the five months of the season naysayers have predicted the wheels to fall off but they are still going strong – never more so than the 8-0 demolition of Birmingham in October. But can Bournemouth keep this phenomenal form going? And can they achieve the unthinkable and get promoted to the promised land of the...

Premier League?
Although Bournemouth’s rise from the financial depths has been well documented there are obviously much bigger clubs – with much bigger budgets – that could make their presence felt in the second half of the season. And even with the recent news that three of the big boys of the division – Blackburn, Leeds and Forest – have been handed transfer embargoes for the rest of the season for breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, the Championship is hardly a level playing field when it comes to wealth.

It is questionable whether Bournemouth need to change their plans radically to keep up the pace in the division however. There had been rumours that they would fail the new FFP but the club have spent a comparatively meagre £11million assembling their table topping side. And assistant manager Jason Tindall has recently declared that Bournemouth would not be splashing out in January – or any other transfer window for that matter.
Dan Gosling is an experienced Premier League who can help the Cherries make the step up.
Squad
Callum Wilson has been a revelation since his move from Coventry City in the summer, scoring eleven goals in all appearances. Add to that the Premier league experience of Andrew Surman and Dan Gosling, signed from Norwich and Newcastle respectively, and there seems little manager Eddie Howe needs to do to bolster the squad to continue the good form into the New Year.
It was a key signing to bring Andrew Surman back to the Goldsands Stadium.
An obvious confidence boost would be to secure the permanent signing of Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc though. A keeper with such formidable top level experience could become invaluable for the Championship run in.
Artur Boruc is possibly the only transfer target for the Cherries in January.
Possible Additions?
Bournemouth’s defence has played a major role in the side’s success but it has been further up the pitch that the team have excelled. The Cherries are the top scorers in the league and those goals have been shared throughout the squad. Wilson is the top goal scorer with 12 goals so far (before the Blackpool match). As for additions, Burnley’s Danny Ings has been heavily linked with a return to the club he left a few years ago, but even with Burnley finding life tough in the top division it is unlikely that Ings would drop a level at this stage of the season – and the cut in wages that that would surely involve.

Another player linked with the club is DJ Campbell who, after being released by QPR, has been plying his trade at non league Maidenhead United. His experience of playing at a higher level – and goal scoring ability – could be beneficial to the club as the season draws to a close.

If anything Eddie Howe may find that it is Bournemouth that will be fending off transfer requests for some of their stars. Steve Cook has been linked with Leicester, Palace and West Brom and other players such as Marc Pugh and the aforementioned Wilson will surely be attracting Premier League clubs desperately looking for a boost to their own squads in January.


Friday, 19 December 2014

The Cherries' sights set on building a gap at the top

It is not easy to come off a Cup defeat and to go straight back into top v bottom clash away from home. No one at AFCB will think lightly though of a Blackpool side that are desperate for points for another reason than the Cherries desire to get three points. The unbeaten run in the Championship goes on and there is nothing wrong with the bread and butter matches to be played over this holiday period which could see AFCB forge a gap at the top of the table.
Can they Cherries stay on top and build a lead on the other other teams?
The teams in and around the top six are all looking up at the Cherries now and hoping that our team slips up over the next few games and yet AFCB have a good run of fixtures against teams that are not so well placed in the league in the next month or so. The disappointment of a cup exit can be replaced by the prospect of a run in the FA Cup and the momentum that the club has built up in the league cannot be wasted now. 

It is likely that the Liverpool match will have taken a bit out of the players emotionally, but fixing their sights on enlarging the distance between the first and following places in the Championship is something that AFCB fans could only have dreamed about at the start of the season. This is reality though and the league is looking splendid and Eddie Howe will want the club to still be top of the league come Christmas Day and into the New Year. That ambition starts with a tricky tie away up at Blackpool and it is key for Callum Wilson and Yann Kermorgant to get back in the scoring zone to put pressure on the teams below.

With Derby at home to Norwich and Middlesbrough having to face Ipswich it this weekend it is not just the result at Blackpool that would help the gap at the top emerge. For Bournemouth it is  a case of trying to get back to clean sheets and slotting away the chances and an away win should set the team up very nicely for the visit of Fulham on Boxing Day. 

Bottom play top but are Blackpool improving?

So it's bottom v top as AFCB travel up to another seaside town that is looking to catch the tails of the teams above them and fight for their Championship status. Such games are always difficult for top sides as the pressure to get a result is high when you are playing a team that has not been in great form. But in the last few games Blackpool have started to show that they can put in performances to earn them points in this division and under Lee Clark they have new ideas and new momentum to help them start picking up points.
Blackpool have had just two home wins so far this season.
Since Clark has arrived at Blackpool before their Ipswich home match, he has managed to help them to pick up seven points from seven games, including one win at home against Birmingham. That may not be top of the league form but compared to having picked up six points from the first 14 games it is a vast improvement. It may also surprise some that Blackpool have scored in six of their last seven games. So the signs are that some kind of a united front is being built at Bloomfield Road and they will need to show some fight now if they are to turnaround their season.
Pugh has not lost a game when he has started for AFCB.
What Blackpool really need is a striker in form. They don't really have that at the moment with Steve Davies leading the way on three goals. But Clark has moved to try and plug the gaps at the other end of the pitch first with Kevin Foley, Nyron Noseworthy, Tom Kennedy and Darren O'Dea among those adding competition at the back. But Clark has signed 10 players in all! Of those it is Jamie O'Hara that captures my immediate attention as he has shown what quality he has over the years at much higher levels, along with Chris Eagles who also adds skill to their midfield. The change in personnel has even seen Ismail Miller move to the bench. 

As you can see Blackpool sound like more of a half descent side now. They are staying in games and getting draws but perhaps just lack a bit of fire power to get them a few more wins than they are currently managing. The visit of AFCB will be a match that they can go into knowing they are not getting well beaten by sides anymore and the fact that the league leaders are coming to town is something that should inspire them. 

Blackpool Home Form
WLLDW

AFCB Away Form
WWWDW

Cherry Chimes talks to fellow seasiders Measured Progress

Rival Lines
Match Preview

Blackpool v AFCB
Blogger Interview: Measured Progress




Cherry chimes talks to Chris Walker author of Measured Progress (an independent Blackpool fans' podcast and blogger) about Blackpool FC ahead of the match against AFCB. I am not sure that Measured Progress is what many Tangerine fans will have made of this season but the season still has some way to go yet and these seasiders will want to see some improvement to keep their team in the Championship. If Lee Clark has his way then they may yet have a rollercoaster of a season.

CC: Was the lack of preparations in getting a squad together quickly over the summer the main reason why Blackpool sit at the bottom of the league or can you name some other ones?

MP: The state of chaos in which we entered the new season is obviously the main reason for our current predicament. There was a large exodus of players at the end of the previous campaign and seemingly little urgency in replacing them. It took until June just to get José Riga appointed and it seems he and chairman Karl Oyston were divided on transfer policy from the off - quite what was agreed during the interview process is anyone's guess. When the players did finally begin to trickle through the door, the quality of them left a lot to be desired and Riga claims the majority were selected by the chairman rather than him. Regardless, a lot of poor and unfit players could never be thrown together into a winning team overnight and it's no surprise at all that we're propping up the rest of the Championship.

CC: Since Lee Clark has come in Blackpool the team has started to pick up points, and you finally got that clean sheet and a win against Birmingham, so is the mood changing among the fans and do you rate Lee Clark as a manager?

MP: Lee Clark wasn't exactly given a warm welcome bearing in mind his failure at Birmingham and the affection many had for Riga, but his results so far have shown a slight upturn in the club's fortunes. Then again, it's not exactly comparing apples with apples. Clark has had the benefit of a squad closer to the fitness levels required and has been able to acquire extra quality with the likes of Jacob Murphy, Chris Eagles and Jamie O'Hara. Even with the improvement though, the gap to safety is still a big one and for all the draws we've had recently, only winning matches will drag us out of this mess.

CC: As Lee Clark has already brought a lot of players in on loan are you hopeful of escaping from the relegation places with the squad you have rather than spending in January ?

MP: One of the big problems that Clark faces is that a good chunk of the current starting XI aren't even contracted beyond the middle of January, be it due to expiry of their loans or the short-term deals they signed on. That's not to say that they're all worth keeping however, and Clark would be wise to hang onto the better ones and supplement those with stronger options. There's no way this current group has what it takes to avoid relegation so we will need to dip into the transfer market yet again - crazy really when we've already used well over 30 players this season.

CC: I have to throw this one in - I do apologise (well not really). Are you bringing any tennis balls later in the season at the reverse fixture at Dean Court?

MP: No, I think the tennis balls were a one off thing, but I would imagine protests of one form or another will continue, especially if relegation starts to look even more inevitable than it already does. The best protests are the ones that capture the imagination and don't put anyone in danger so the tennis balls were effective for gaining media coverage of our plight. There's clearly a lot wrong with our club and it's telling that fans have been driven to such lengths while the owners are enjoying the benefits of the Premier League money at the club's expense.

CC: The fans seem to take to Jose Riga even if Chairman Karl Oyston was keen to move him on, but do you think Riga was was really one of the better managers you have had in recent years?

MP: Riga remains something of an enigma all told. What a lot of fans admired him for was his openness in speaking out against the problems he encountered. Previous managers, and indeed the existing one, have been accused of being an Oyston stooge at some point or another, but Riga was determined to stand up for himself. It was a conflict that was only going to end in one result though, and his departure was only surprising in that it didn't happen sooner. As for the football under him, he had both arms tied behind his back so it's virtual impossible to accurately rate his ability from what he did at Bloomfield Road.

CC: Home crowds have still been around 12,000 so which players in your team can really make a difference now that those fans are hoping to see do well?

MP: Well, the crowds may be announced as being around 12,000, but any regular inside Bloomfield Road would cast strong doubt on those figures, with the stands looking emptier and emptier with each passing week. As for the key players, the aforementioned Eagles, Murphy and O'Hara have the best technique in the squad, while Steven Davies knows where the net is if a good opportunity comes his way.

CC: Is it heart-breaking to see Tom Ince on loan at Nottingham Forest rather than come and help Blackpool out?

MP: Tom Ince is an unusual case. For so long, he was a very exciting player and almost equally importantly came across as a genuinely nice lad. However, that all changed once his father got the job and tried to build the team around "my Thomas". Ince's performances suffered and he began to sulk and let his ego get out of control. There's not much affection for Ince Jnr any more due to his tantrums and many 'Pool fans will be pleased to see him failing. One thing's for sure, until he corrects his attitude, he will never be the player he once promised to be.

CC: Lee Clark says he'll take a rollercoaster ride on 'The Big One' if Blackpool stay up. So will you go an give him some support on the day and do you fancy doing a similar challenge?

MP: At this point survival still looks fairly remote, so one suspects any over the top challenge could be selected as the chances of having to carry out the forfeit are highly unlikely. I'll be staying away from the Big One though - I never really was one with a head for heights!

CC: I don't think Blackpool have won away yet, (unless you beat Charlton before the AFCB game) but you have won a couple at home so what is your prediction when the Tangerines take on the Cherries at Bloomfield - are we in for a shock?

MP: Despite the fact we're unbeaten in four, you couldn't really say we've played particularly well in any of those games, with scrappy battling being the order of the day. It'll be similar on Saturday and aided by our rapidly disintegrating pitch. I'd predict an ugly game and a 0-0 to continue our unbeaten run seems feasible.

CC: Many thanks to Chris Walker for putting those Blackpool FC answers together for us. The match against Blackpool may be top against bottom, but I expect a typical Championship match with both teams fired up to really entertain and go for the win. I can't see the points being shared in a draw it will be a win either way I am sure and much will depend on how AFCB react to after their mid-week game and how much they want to stay at the top of the Championship. Desire is everything in these games and it promises to be a cracking match for those who make the trip up north. Perhaps some of you can also test out the Big One just so that you can let Lee Clark know if he is in for an easy ride later in May. 

Make sure you hop over to Measured Progress where you can do some further spying on the opposition and learn more about how Blackpool have been doing in recent weeks.

All Departments has been busy reviewing the Capital One Quarter Final between AFCB v Liverpool. You can listen by visiting the All Departments' website or by scrolling down on the Cherry Chimes site to the All Departments' sound bar where you can also listen back.