Neil McDonald confidently focused the pressure off his Blackpool squad and onto the teams around them with relegation rivals Fleetwood Town and Oldham Athletic having, and still having, games in hand on Pool. So when both sides earned positive results, it pushed Pool back into the League One relegation zone.
Throughout the season, McDonald’s attitude has been almost to avoid the problem. After every defeat came the same clichés about being “unlucky” and not getting “the rub of the green”. But time and time again, McDonald has refused to accept the simple truth that his team simply have not been good enough all season.
This can be traced back to the summer recruitment process; signing a lot of young players is good, but having your entire squad made up of them in a competitive league was always going to put too much pressure on young shoulders.
His arrogance and belief that everything will be fine means that Pool now have four games remaining to stay in League One, and when I look at the fixture list, I struggle to see how the side will get anything more than three points from a possible 12.
Their first match is a tricky trip to play-off chasing Rochdale, then arguably the biggest game of the season away at Fleetwood.
While writing that last sentence, I honestly had to stop, rub my eyes, and take a second to actually process it. I have huge respect for Fleetwood and the great job chairman Andy Pilley has done in building the club, but the fact that they are now battling it out to stay in the same division as Blackpool, a club who were playing Premier League football five years ago, should not be happening.
Then, the following Saturday, Lancashire rivals and League One’s in-form team, Wigan Athletic, come to Bloomfield Road, followed by a final trip to mid-table Peterborough United.
To me, it seems Pool’s most realistic chance of wins come against Fleetwood and Peterborough. With the latter having nothing to play for, Pool can hope that Graham Westley’s team will take their foot off the gas.
But the fact that matters have been allowed to come down to these four games is not surprising. As I have stated in previous blogs throughout the season, Pool have been consistently inconsistent; winning three games in a row then going seven games without a victory.
Last weekend’s home defeat to Colchester was described by McDonald as the “worst performance of the season” and one which saw them slide back into the relegation zone. Losing to a side sitting second-bottom, and who were an incredible TEN points behind Pool prior to kick-off, hardly fills me with confidence going into these last four games.
Yet still, McDonald had the audacity to call the performance a “blip”. How can a side who have been fighting at the bottom end of the table all year keep having so many unfortunate blips? The fans are not mugs, and can see through these comments.
‘Backing the boys’ is no longer an option; it’s win or bust for Blackpool.