Time In Charge: 5 and a half years
Highest League Finish: 15th In Championship (19/20)
Honours: League 1 Champions (18/19)
Predicted finish: 5th
FM17 Save: Here
PES20 Team: Here
I dare say that likely noone who reads this story will remember the time that I dabbled in making Football Manager Youtube videos. They weren’t great. As I feel like I’ve said a lot recently, I’m more a writer than a talker, but I had a lot of fun making them. The channel that me and my mate Tom created videos on was called Wasted Talent and we named ourselves after wonderkids who’d never cut the mustard in real life. He was Freddy Adu and as a long, long, long suffering Everton fan, I was Franny Jeffers.
TLDR: We went from League 2 to the Championship in 3 seasons, got stuck for 2 seasons due largely to financial limitations, then looked set to challenge for promotion.
My first youtube save followed 2 seasons in charge of Sheffield FC on a custom database, but that went tits up when the game glitched out and wouldn’t start Season 3. So I started anew and took over a Blackpool team languishing in League 2. I had fond memories of them getting into the Premier League with what felt to me like a team of unknowns. Nevertheless, they attacked these massive, massive teams, like a cornered mouse would attack a cat, before having to famously go home and wash their own kits. It took guts and courage and a swashbuckling spirit. Things that they now seemed to sadly lack. I wanted to bring those qualities back. I wanted to take them all the way back up by playing the swashbuckling attacking football that had inspired me.
It started out decently. We edged past Colchester in extra time to win the League 2 play off final and then reached the League 1 play off Semis the next season, only to be dumped out by Peterborough. The third season was where we really hit our stride, calmly sweeping League 1 aside and running out Champions, but that’s when we hit the wall. Run by the infamous Oyston family, the club was haemorrhaging cash and just could not compete financially with a league full of Premier League parachute payments. 2 seasons of Championship mid table mediocrity followed, before we finally were in a position to challenge for promotion to the Premier League, sitting in 2nd place in December, just 1 point behind Leeds. And then… Erm… I discovered writing and started a journeyman save instead. Oh well. No regrets.
No 1 – John Ruddy – Goalkeeper
Ruddy’s a fairly new signing in my Blackpool side, having joined at the end of his contract with Norwich to replace my retiring (And considerably weaker) goalkeeper Lee Camp. Up until I stopped playing this save though, Ruddy was a real breath of fresh air. He’d conceded less than a goal per game and was no doubt one of the reasons that we were looking towards the Premier League rather than the Championship. At 35 he’s obviously getting on, but he’s still a really solid shot stopper.
No 22 – Kieron Freeman – Right Back
I don’t want this to come across too negatively but Freeman was extremely average during my 2 and a half years with him. An average rating hovering around 6.8 every season is fine and nothing to be sniffed at, plus he had the added bonus of being equally proficient on the left and right of defence. Solid enough player. I’m just now realising that I’m going to be writing the words “Solid” and “Fine” quite a lot today.
No 6 – Danny Wilson – Centre Back
Danny Wilson’s a real FM stalwart for me, as I’m sure he is for a lot of you that have been playing the series since the early 2010’s or before. For a certain level of club in recent editions though, he can be a very easily attainable star player and that’s a really valuable trait. I signed him on a free from Rangers before we absolutely trounced League 1 and I’m sure he and his consistently good form are one of the main factors for our progress since. I also signed him for GKS Katowice in Franjo: A Journeyman Story during a season that shook me to my very core and I never want to speak of again. Wilson’s ever-dependable and… Erm… Solid. In the absence of my captain, Tom Aldred, who I just couldn’t find a place for in my squad weirdly enough, vice-captain Wilson is Blackpool’s skipper.
No 4 – Ash Kigbu – Centre Back
Another free signing. As I mentioned before, Blackpool’s finances are absolute arse on a stick, so this is going to be a theme. Kigbu was a great capture though and has been at the club since the Summer of 2017. A Manchester City academy graduate, he’s been at the heart of my defence for 4 seasons now and has recently switched his allegiance to Nigeria and made his deserved international debut.
No 3 – James Husband – Left Back
I signed Husband in the Summer of 2019, before our first season back in the Championship. He’s been a good if slightly underwhelming signing. Brought in from Burnley for a relatively massive £105k fee, his attributes suggested that he’d be one of our star players for years to come, but he’s not hit those heights. He is having a good season though with an average rating of 7.11.
No 10 – Michael Cain – Box to Box Mid
Cain might be the most consistent player we have. He was on loan at Blackpool before I joined and I made sure to sign him when his Leicester contract expired at the end of the first season on account of his good form, which has continued ever since. He’s a decent goalscorer too, notching 28 goals in 6 seasons as we’ve climbed through the pyramid.
No 16 – Jay Fulton – Sitting Mid
Fulton’s another new signing. He let his Rotherham contract run down in the Summer as he fancied getting out of League 1 and so far he’s been a fine player for us. He’s a defensively sound midfielder who’s happy to sit and allow our other more adventurous midfielders to roam forwards.
No 8 – Brad Potts – Ball Winning Mid
Potts and Cain have been running my midfield from day 1. They’re both quite similar players who like to get up and down the pitch, pressing relentlessly and adding some bite into the middle of the park. Like Cain, Potts has been very consistent, with an average rating just above or below 7 every single season. Also like Cain, Potts was here before I was and also like Cain, he’s chipped in with his fair share of goals, scoring 24 in 6 seasons.
No 17 – Kieran Dowell – Attacking Mid
Dowell has been a real difference maker so far in his Blackpool career. I signed him in Summer 2020 after he ran his contract down at Everton, as even once the Toffees dropped into the Championship he still only managed 3 appearances in 2 years. For us though he’s been stellar, setting up 12 goals and scoring twice in his debut season and getting involved in 9 more goals so far this campaign. He really added some creativity and culture to midfield that we’d needed for a good number of years.
No 18 – Danny Philliskirk – Supporting Striker
Philliskirk is another that predates me at Bloomfield Road and has been a regular in my starting lineup for all 6 years, scoring 61 goals and setting up 38 more in 226 appearances. It’s not an outstanding goals per game record, but he’s always been more of a workhorse than an out and out goalscorer. His form has always been consistently fine and he’s adapted to each of the leagues we’ve played in. I like Danny, he’s a good egg.
No 9 – Aiden O’Brien – Striker
Aiden joined in a gargantuan £400k deal in the Summer of 2019. I was taking a bit of a punt as I’d released the ageing and ineffective duo of Joe Garner and Adam Le Fondre on frees and options were thin off the ground. Aiden had just smashed in 12 goals in 20 League 2 games and I hoped he’d be able to manage the step up. The result? He’s been alright. 19 goals in 60 games. Sometimes he steps up and grabs an important goal, sometimes he makes me tear my hair out for weeks on end.
We’ve got a good mix of youth and experience throughout the rest of the squad. You’ve got the likes of Hodson, Higham, Owain “The Impact” Jones and Kyle Dempsey who’ve all been with us for a while and are dependable… Ish… Then you’ve got Charlie “Chadam” Adam and Younes Belhanda, who are the seasoned veterans with questionable physical attributes but unquestionable ability, but then you’ve also got the likes of Dylan Flynn, George Hirst and Stuart Wardle: The young lads with potential. My ones to look out for would be Chadam, Belhanda, Hirst and Wardle. Jones is an impact sub too, so might do well off the bench.
Our tactic in a word is “Bodies”. In defence, our back 4 is joined by our central midfield trio, while the strikers press the opposition defence. In attack, our front 3 is joined by the 2 wing backs and our 2 outer central midfielders, with Dowell the playmaker helping to tie it all together. And we go on the front foot playing swashbuckling football, because of course.