Wednesday 29 March 2017

Blackpool

They will be every neutral's choice to stay up, the club that will be most missed from the Premier League after a season as giddying as any ride on the Pleasure Beach.

Sod's Law means Blackpool are the least likely of the five to survive. The 4-3 victory over Bolton at Bloomfield Road, exactly replicating the score of the Matthews final on Cup final day, was a reminder of what they have brought to a very swell party.

However, it is the three that Ian Holloway's side conceded, rather than the four they scored, that will thicken the cloud cover over the Fylde coast -- not to mention the identity of their opponents.

Yes, they have momentum but it is the kind of momentum a go-kart possesses as it speeds downhill towards a juggernaut. Not since December 2009 have Manchester United failed to score in a league game at Old Trafford and Holloway's fine away record is also something of a distant memory; their 1-1 draw at Tottenham on May 7 was Blackpool's first away point of 2011.

Holloway has set much store by the fact that Manchester United will be deep into their preparations for the European Cup final on May 28 and will field something of a reserve side. This is certainly true, but it was also true in 2009 when a Manchester United "reserve" team went to Hull and won comfortably 1-0. However, two years before they also fielded a weakened side against West Ham and, to Sheffield United's cost and fury, lost. That is the hope Holloway and his side must cling to.

Their survival options are the same as Wigan's but the degree of difficulty is much higher. Blackpool's last spell in the top flight ended in 1971 against Manchester United, but they would take the 1-1 draw of 40 years ago.

Score in reverse fixture: Lost 3-2

Last victory v United: 1-0, Sept 1963

Form: LDDDW

Away form: LLDLD

Top scorer: DJ Campbell 13

Odds to go down: 1/3

Irish Independent

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