Blackpool’s third relegation in six seasons – slipping into League Two five years after almost surviving in the Premier League – was sealed on Sunday after a desperate capitulation and a 5-1 defeat but it was merely confirmation of something that has been known for some time.
Blackpool are now barely a football team, more a living example of just how far a club can sink when incompetence and apathy are the dominant forces.
Karl Oyston, the chairman, was not at London Road to see his side’s latest demotion but his father, Owen, was, flanked by minders. Towards the end of the game one Blackpool fan took a banner reading “Love Blackpool, hate Oyston” as close to the directors’ box as stewards would allow him. In the circumstances, you have to admire his restraint.
Even if Blackpool had won here they would still have been doomed: a 4-0 defeat against Wigan Athletic the previous weekend (who came down from the Championship last season with Blackpool, but are now celebrating immediate promotion) meant they were relying on Fleetwood losing at home to Crewe to have any hope. After word came through at half-time that Fleetwood were 2-0 up Blackpool surrendered shamefully.
“Everyone told us [about Fleetwood] and the second-half performance was a result of that,” Neil McDonald, the manager, said. “That just shows mentally we’re very, very fragile.” McDonald will meet the chairman on Monday to determine his future but the noncommittal answers to questions about whether he would walk away suggested little likelihood of him continuing.
Blackpool actually started the game reasonably well and at least looked as if they might go down with a modicum of fight. They took the lead in the 18th minute, as Jacob Blyth headed home a Luke Higham cross, and they held on to the lead until the break. However, then came the news of their fate being decided elsewhere and after half-time they conceded five goals, three of them to the Peterborough substitute Jon Taylor.
Marcus Maddison equalised from the penalty spot just after the break, then with around 15 minutes remaining Taylor scored his first, barely breaking stride after coming off the bench. Shaquile Coulthirst added another before Taylor scored two more in rapid succession: a 12-minute hat-trick is nothing to be sniffed at but at that stage he may as well have been running round tangerine training cones.
“They’ve embarrassed themselves with their second-half performance; they’ve embarrassed me and the football club,” McDonald said, going on to agree with his predecessor Lee Clark’s assertion that Blackpool was an “impossible job”.
“I don’t think the club has been shown in a good light by anybody – and I mean anybody,” he said. “Everybody’s to blame, especially me and the players.”
Sadly the Oystons appear not to be going anywhere, meaning the possibility of whoever is in charge next season overseeing yet another demotion is very real. “You’re going down,” sang a group of unsympathetic home fans and indeed they were. Last season they were relegated from the Championship by 20 points. This season they dropped by four. In Blackpool’s world that almost counts as progress.
Man of the match Jon Taylor (Peterborough United)
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