After a strong start to the season Blackpool have plummeted down the table, resulting in the dismissal of Paul Ince and the departure of his son Tom. Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting at Bloomfield Road, John Kane from the Measured Progress blog tells us what to expect from the home side…

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What are your expectations for 2013-14?

At the start of the season it was to stay in the league. That’s not really changed, however, my expectations are less focused on league position now and based around the hope that the club might demonstrate that there is a way forward. Right now, the club is floundering badly; last February Karl Oyston described the club as ‘rudderless’ and a year on that’s not changed. The chairman doesn’t exactly inspire and cultivate positivity, so my expectation is to see that change for the better. As for the football, to stay in the Championship would be nice.

What was the fans’ general opinion of Paul Ince?

Paul Ince is now not a very popular man. Go back to the beginning of the season when we got off to a flying start, many fans certainly appreciated him, although the run was built on sand. We had a thin squad not helped by a summer recruitment drive that lacked drive and coherency. Added to that the team had little about them, no signatures, no patterns of play. The players always looked under coached. Everything was based on stopping the opposition rather than playing to the strengths, which pretty much underlined the fact that Ince had little or no belief in himself or his players.

After his five-match stadium ban there was a very public show of support for the manager (Paul Ince masks for charity, cringe), many whom felt had been wronged by the FA. However, once the team got stuck in a rut and it was clear he didn’t have solutions the fans turned against him and it got a little ugly towards the end.

It’s safe to say that Ince wants to be a manager, but he proved at Blackpool that he doesn’t really have a grasp of what that actually means. He had his own talented son at his disposal and failed to set the side up to get the best out of him, making Tom go stale. Ince just spouted rhetoric about battling for each ball and having character. Battling is what we’ve done alright, collecting nine red cards already and, in fact since getting three in a game against Yeovil a while back, the club has gone in to freefall.

At the moment club captain Barry Ferguson is in charge, albeit, not officially named as manager or even caretaker manager. So technically we don’t have a manager. It’s not clear why there hasn’t been a formal announcement by the club yet (The game against Forest will be Ferguson’s fourth game in ‘charge’). It’s still too early to judge Ferguson, this week will have been his first full and proper week coaching the players, so the team that plays at the weekend might be a surprise to all Blackpool fans. If he’s given the job permanently then it will be interesting to see how Ferguson does, he’s been preparing for this moment for some time now. He certainly has impressed most of the fans with his interviews, but he’s also confirmed that he won’t be a player manager and that is possibly where the biggest problem lies. In Ferguson becoming a manager we’ve lost a high quality player that we really don’t seem to have been able to replace.

Have there been many changes since last season?

Many, players who were the lifeblood of the team such as Stephen Crainey, Ian Evatt, Alex Baptiste and Gary Taylor-Fletcher have gone and not really been replaced ‘like for like’. We are now a shadow of the team that excelled in previous Championship seasons and made it in to the Premier League. We made seven signings in the transfer window, so it needs to be seen how they are integrated over the next month or two. Allied to that Barry Ferguson is very new to management and still finding his feet, so it will take time for his team to emerge.

What can we expect tactically?

As stated above, it’s not entirely clear. A hardworking, physical team will be the platform no doubt, but it’s really too early to tell how we will approach this game.

Who are the key players to watch out for?

This one is really tough, for one reason or another we’re going to be without our best three players from this season (Barry Ferguson, Tom Ince and Ricardo Fuller). Faris Haroun, signed from Middlesbrough, might be one to watch out for as an attacking force. Also upfront Steven Davies is starting to show signs of catching fire under Barry Ferguson’s tutelage so he might be a handful for defender if his confidence is still high. Oh, and Stephen Dobbie is back.

What’s going to happen on Saturday?

Anything goes really, but it’s hard to see Blackpool being able to stop Forest. I’d like to see us score and put some good passages of play together, but I’d expect Forest to run out winners by a two-goal margin.

Follow John on Twitter:
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And the Measured Progress blog is well worth a read.

Image: Terry Robinson (CC-BY-SA-2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

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