I have to admit I didn’t see it coming. After four games, Blackpool are second in the Championship, only missing out on top spot due to goal difference.
Four games into a 46-match season, nothing should be taken for granted. And yet as Paul Ince’s side prepare to face Watford this afternoon, there's a point worth making; if Blackpool beat the Hornets, it would be impossible not to take them seriously.
Ince has enjoyed quite the renaissance since arriving at Bloomfield Road in February. But after a 15th-place finish last season, few would have thought the Seasiders would be sitting in the automatic promotion places as August made way for September.
When he first took the job, Ince was focused on Championship safety, with bigger aspirations reserved for another day.
'Once we get to 50, 52 points and get that safety net then we can start looking upwards', he said.
Well upwards they certainly looked…and duly went…and victory this afternoon would give them the very real opportunity of finishing the weekend as league leaders – given that Nottingham Forest have a tricky away game at Wigan.
That said, Blackpool’s match is not exactly a cakewalk, and Gianfranco Zola’s Watford come into the game on an undefeated streak of their own.
In short, something is likely to give this afternoon, and should it go in favour of Ince and his team, they could be on the verge of a truly great run.
Wins against Doncaster, Barnsley and Reading, along with a draw away to Middlesbrough, have given them a platform on which to build. And success this afternoon would give them the motivation to overcome both Bournemouth and Millwall in the coming weeks.
A squad wrecked with injuries but full of confidence could be about to set the early pace. And while nothing is won this early, it's testament to Ince’s motivation and his side’s determination that we're talking about Blackpool in such a way.
Tipped for little more than mediocrity, the Seasiders are writing an early-season fairy tale, and I for one hope it continues this afternoon.
Will Blackpool continue their fine form this afternoon? And what does the season as a whole have in store for them?
image: © joncandy