Three weeks to go to a date at Molineux and changes expected before Adams finalises his class of 2015Sun 20 Jul 14 by Gary Gowers
The shenanigans on the Golden Mile have offered a salutary reminder of just how badly, and quickly, things can go wrong when a football club is mis-managed at the very top.
Blackpool’s playing squad currently consists of eight professionals and in yesterday’s friendly with Penrith their starting line-up was reported thus:
Team: Trialist, Waddington, Trialist, Perkins, McMahon, Dunne, Zenjov, Trialist, Trialist, Grant, Trialist.
How would we be feeling if Neil Adams’ first friendly line-up of the summer included five trialists? As things stand they don’t have a goalkeeper on the books.
The root of their current malaise – aside from reportedly having an owner who appears more intent on taking money out of the club than putting it in – is that last season’s squad was largely a hybrid of loanees and players on the final year of their contract. What is known in the latest Oxford English dictionary as a ‘Roeder’.
And it never ends well.
Yet, even in our darkest days, we were at least safe(ish) in the knowledge that our club was being governed by folk who genuinely cared about it. Some of the decision-making appeared illogical but still the intention was honourable. As it is to this day.
Which brings us on to Team Adams, who currently are preparing the squad for their third pre-season friendly at the St Vincent training camp in Italy – against a Serie D team called S.C. Vallée d’Aoste. Bizarrely, at the eleventh hour the scheduled opposition – Novara – appear unable to fulfil the fixture.
Their problem – other than a chaotic schedule – is rather different to that of Blackpool manager Jose Riga. Currently they have a squad of around 30 players from which to fashion a team that will mount a Championship challenge. And that’s too many.
We understand from Adams himself that another central-defender is on the shopping list. In order to accommodate any news faces, and thin out a squad that is in danger of taking on QPR proportions, there will be some departures in the next few weeks.
In conversation with the EDP, Adams confirmed as much but is wary of losing players late in the window: “What we don’t want to do is get to the end of the window and see players potentially go and leave the squad in a weaker position and we are not able to replace them.”
I would suggest that as a club with ‘no need to sell’, that particular scenario is one over which they have – or at least should have – complete control.
After last weekend’s fairly gentle run-out at Dereham, things looked to have been stepped up a gear at Braintree with those Canary fans present being treated to the oddity of an avalanche of goals.
Again the purpose of the exercise was fitness and experimentation but, as mentioned in my last column, the need to rediscover that winning feeling remains an important one. With Braintree now a Conference Premier outfit I suspect Adams was quietly pleased with a job well done.
That Kyle Lafferty and Ricky van Wolfswinkel have since picked up injuries in training (an indication of the intensity of training perhaps?) is disappointing, although the former’s only appears to be a niggle.
Ricky, on the other hand, could be out for up to two weeks. At a time when he’s clearly eager to put right some of the wrongs of 2013/14, that is something he and we could well do without.
Equally, for those willing him to stay, it could just be that the injury takes him out of the shop window for a while, ensuring he remains a City player on Tuesday, 2 September.
The Dutchman though is clearly a man on a mission and whatever the private thoughts of Adams, by scoring goals he could force his way into the manager’s thoughts.
RvW’s biggest problem however is one that is out of his hands.
While we were told all players’ contracts include a commensurate pay decrease upon relegation, he’ll still be one of the big earners. Those in power may simply decide that a number ‘20′ who spends some of the time on the bench isn’t good value for money.
For what it’s worth, I’m with the majority who hope he stays and scores – regularly.
While Ricky’s absence in Italy is due to his injured knee, there were no such excuses for Messrs Bassong, Becchio and Bunn. All three missed the trip and look to be surplus to requirements, Bunn looking likely to be usurped for the ‘deputy keeper’ role by the returning Declan Rudd.
All of which assumes John Ruddy will remain in situ. While the Arsenal thing refuses to go away, the red tops are currently linking Arsene Wenger to a different keeper on an almost daily basis. There appears a long way to go before the Big Man packs his bags for the Emirates. Let’s hope it stays that way.
In terms of the Andrew Surman story, things are ticking along nicely and if the good folk of Carlton Colville spotted a lunatic during cartwheels at around 8:10 on Tuesday evening that was probably me. If Surman’s opener at Braintree – courtesy of an apt assist by one Wes Hoolahan – gave Adams another nudge in the right direction… good.
As things stand it appears the diamond is to be part of the Adams’ armoury – whether it be a plan A, B, C or D – and who better to perform that role on the left tip.
So, the waiting game continues. 21 days and counting.
Anyone else just a little bit excited?