After bringing in no less than ten players over the summer, Blackpool have good strength in numbers, with many similarly skilled players. However these players are out of their depth in the Premier League and with a tough season ahead your team selection will be vital.
Blackpool have three goalkeepers in the first team, all of pretty similar ability. Matthew Gilks has found himself as the Number 1 so far in the Premiership campaign with Paul Rachubka injured in real life. Richard Kingson was also brought in on a free transfer after playing for Ghana at the World Cup. As all the keepers are pretty similar it could be a good idea to rotate them due to form. With a tough season ahead where the ‘Pool will undoubtedly ship a fair few goals in, these three keepers should all see decent playing time
Key Man: Richard Kingson
Prospect: Mark Halstead
There are three natural right backs at Blackpool this season. Firstly is Neal Eardley, at the age of 21 He is a good all round player with good attributes at defending, attacking and fitness. He is only young but has already played 137 games, also captaining Oldham at just 20 years old. Eardley then is certainly one to watch, but can be a little inconsistent; that’s where Alex Baptiste comes in. Baps can play naturally at RB or CB but is probably more suited to the latter. Reportedly bought for just 5k, he can be easily sold to Stoke for around £2m and with 6 other very capable defenders this may be a good option. Lastly is Danny Coid, he has been at Blackpool his entire career but is very injury prone and is probably not even good enough for backup. He will only see game time if there is a massive injury crisis.
One of the strongest positions with no less than 5 players competing for the starting XI. Ian Evattis the longest serving central defender, joining ‘The Seasiders’ in their promotion to the Championship in 2006-07. ‘Evo’ is a big no nonsense type standing at 6”3 and 14st, however he isn’t a totally restricted defender and has good decisions and composure attributes and would be a good choice as a defensive leader. Your assistant manager Steve Thompson reports Dekel Keinan to be the best central defender at the club, but his attributes suggest otherwise. Keinan signed for Blackpool in the summer from Israeli side Maccabi Haifa and is pretty similar to Evatt with good attributes in the key defending stats (14/15 in tackling/marking/heading). Next is perhaps one of the more promising youngsters at Blackpool –Craig Cathcart. He was brought in from Manchester United just days before the season kicked off. At 21 he is the best tackler in the squad and has the all-round ability to be my partnership choice with Evatt. Lastly is Rob Edwards, he starts off in the reserves and will probably stay there for the rest of the season. He is handy backup but with 4 other really good centre backs (including Baptiste) you may look to loan him out and see what happens when his contract runs out at the end of the season.
There is only one natural left back at the club, Stephen Crainey. He has been much improved in this year’s FM and rightly so as he continues to put in consistent performances even at the highest level. With high tackling, composure and bravery he is a very useful defender. He also has decent crossing and physical attributes so isn’t half bad at going forward but if you’re looking for more of a wing back you’ll have to bring somebody else in.
Key Defender: Ian Evatt
Prospect: Craig Cathcart/Neal Eardley
I’ve decided only to include a CM section and to put all the wingers into a ST bit, as most are natural in both. If you are staying true to Blackpool’s 4-3-3 formation you. Firstly is Charlie Adam, surely the clubs ‘star man’. His 18 goals were so vital in the clubs promotion. Not only does he have goal scoring ability but he is the most creative player in the team with the ability to pass the pall anywhere he wants. He will definitely be one of the first names on the team sheet and at just 24 has a great career ahead; I will talk more about his best position/role in the recommended tactic section as there is more than one way of getting the most out of him. Also in the centre is Keith Southern, Blackpool’s longest serving player. At 30 he is one of more experienced and will be a good choice for the Captaincy. He is more suited to a defensive midfielder role with good tackling ability. However he is good all round and plays a more advanced role IRL so a box to box role arriving late in the box could see a healthy goal return. Next is David Vaughan, one of the Pool’s most underestimated players, however this year’s FM see his passing and flair skill rise to 16 and dribbling ability could see him be played in his accomplished position of left midfield - if you’re playing 4-4-2. If you’re playing 4-3-3 though playing him as an advanced playmaker is a good shout. In my opinion those three are perhaps the strongest midfielders, closely followed by Ludovic Sylvestre. With passing 17 and technique 16 he is well suited as a playmaker and could be seen as a similar type player to Charlie Adam. For some reason FM says the Frenchman can’t speak English, so it may take him a while to settle in to the area and get used to the way you play. Another player brought in from France this year is Malaury Martin. He was on trail at first and signed just days before the first game of the season, so it would seem he was brought in for backup and his attributes would further suggest this. He is only 21 and is decent at passing and creativity, but will not be pushing for a regular place any time soon; loaning him out would be a good idea. The last first team CM is Chris Basham, reportedly bought for £1.2m from Bolton this year. ‘Bashy’ is a great prospect at just 21 and with stats like tackling 15 and determination 17 he will be pushing Keith Southern for that defensive/box to box midfielder role. If he does not get into your starting XI he will be very useful backup and will more than likely play some role in your survival campaign, whether it is at CM or CB. There is also Stephen Husband a 19 year old who has sat in the reserves since his transfer from Livingston back in January. He has some OK attributes such as his passing but isn’t a great prospect by anybody’s standards
Key Man: Charlie Adam
One of the more versatile forwards is Elliot Grandin; he is more than capable of playing at every position from midfield to up front and is natural at AMR. At just 22 Grandin has already played for teams such as CSKA Sofia and Marseille and was brought in this year to ply his trade in the Premiership. He has the attacking ability and skill to be a key player who will suit most tactics of your choice. If you’re looking for a bit more strength on the wings however, Gary Taylor-Fletcher is your man; again he can be played AMR/RM/ST and even CM if needed. GTF puts his name in the record books as Blackpool’s first ever Premier League goal scorer and though he rarely plays upfront by himself the last two FM games have seen this to be his best position. He will add something a little different if you’re playing 433 and there is a good chance he will be your biggest goal scoring threat for a winger. There are also a couple of youngsters for backup, with Matt Phillips probably the most promising after being bought on deadline day from Wycombe. He is primarily an AMR but can play on the left and has good dribbling and finishing attributes for a 19 year old. There are two or three championship clubs interested in loan deals straight away, but only as cover, so you may want to keep him in your reserves and to keep an eye on him - maybe giving him game time in cups. The other youngster is Ishmel Demontagnac-, he is pretty similar to Phillips but, at 22, is three years his senior, the ‘Demon’ is known for his attitude problems but was once was seen to have real potential back when he was at Walsall. For me though he should be offloaded if any interest is shown - if not the reserves are there for a reason! There is also David Carney, brought in for backup he can play as an attacking winger or as a full back. He has pretty average attacking attributes and even worse defensively so he won’t be playing too many games this season. Lastly is Luke Varney, on loan from Derby. He has good enough attacking attributes for cover and can play anywhere up front. On my save file he is a bit of a super sub and is a definite goal threat.
Key Man: Elliot Grandin
Prospect: Matt Phillips
Whatever your formation Marlon Harewood is a good shout for your Centre Forward. Marlon was brought in on a free transfer and has years of Premier League experience. At 30 years of age, Harewood has good physical attributes, not only 16 at strength but 16 at pace as well, so he could be more than just a target man. However his heading/finishing ability isn’t great, so a supporting deep lying forward may be your role choice. Next is perhaps the best finisher at the club, DJ Campbell. DJ has already had two loan spells at Blackpool, scoring 20 goals in 38 games. He is fast and has good dribbling and flair so an out and out advance forward may be a suited position, but he could also be utilised as an inside forward on the left wing. Next is Brett Ormerod, a legend in any Blackpool fans eyes. This is his second spell at the club and he has proved to be a goal scorer in every division he has played in for the ‘pool’. This season he will surely become the first person to score in every football league in England for Blackpool. At 33 he is coming to the end of his career, but his work rate and determination standing at 18 and a good natural fitness will see him looking for a first team place every week. Another striker is Billy Clarke, if it weren’t for his injury putting him out for the next 11-13 months he would likely be pushing for a first team role. For 22 he is talented enough and at just 5 foot 7 would suit an advanced forward or a poacher role with his natural finishing ability. His contract runs out at the end of the season and it will be your choice whether to give him an extension without seeing him play any league football this year. Lastly is Jason Euell, at 33 years old he may only have a couple of year left but he has decent enough stats for you to consider playing him. Whilst not of the same ability of some of the other strikers he could still provide useful and I would suggest giving him a try when necessary and then deciding whether to extend his contract which finishes at the end of the year. There is some transfer and loan interest from the Championship so this is another option.
Key Man: DJ Campbell
Prospect: Billy Clarke