Another enormously frustrating game. Perhaps I should just start copying and pasting that from week to week. The scenario was familiar enough…
Within the first two minutes we were a goal down (admittedly to a fantastic strike from Varney) and chasing the game. Early substitutions made a difference, but we conceded another and despite sustained pressure, couldn’t level the score. Plenty of parallels to Bolton last week, although I’d argue that we played better overall yesterday.
Over more than one game, results very rarely come down to luck. We have nine points from fourteen games and have lost the last four. We have played well, with the exception of some fits of hoof-and-hope against Bolton, in all of those four games but, self-evidently, we haven’t played well enough. Blackpool scored a wonder goal and defended splendidly yesterday. Our keeper made a rare but bad error, which cost us a goal, and our forwards lacked incisiveness in finishing and positioning. There were times when a player took on a shot and should have passed and vice versa. We were not good enough when it really mattered.
We weren’t far off, however, and the not-good-enough has come down to single decisions – chances not taken, tackles not made: Foley letting Varney in for the first, Hahnemann flapping for the second, Ebanks-Blake not being sharp enough to run onto a spilled shot from the keeper. Reverse those, which the current squad are capable of doing, get some belief back, and we’re good enough to stay in this League. Whether we will is a different question which, in a remarkably similar way to last season, relies on McCarthy finding and sticking with his best team.
Today was a classic of this not happening and plenty of questions will be asked about McCarthy after this result. However much Blackpool have surprised everyone this season, they only had one home win prior to this, and these are the games we’ll need to pick up points from. Leaving out Milijas was strange, but then he had played in Bulgaria on Wednesday, but as he came on to good effect after 30 minutes, perhaps he should have started. Conversely, he’s been too keen to integrate Hunt, who could make a difference to the team in time, but is not up to pace.
The whole game was frustrating, but the margins between success and failure have been extremely narrow. McCarthy should stay and be given the chance to tip the balance and turn things around. But this does have to happen very soon.