Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Relegation Fodder (Blackpool and Wolves)

The last shall be first and the first shall be last in this Premier League Preview!

This season there are more than three clubs who fall into this category. That means some of them, despite their lack of talent, will remain in the top flight for another season. I think everybody knows where this list starts, so let's head to the northwest for a weekend of drunken deba
uchery and cheap stag do's.

For those who don't know, Blackpool is a shore-town with a decent sized amusement park, rather uninspiring beach, and a rather large quantity of casinos (the cheap, penny slots type) and bars. It also has a small football stadium, which holds about 14,000 people and only has stands on three sides. In order to reach minimum requirements for a Premier League stadium, Blackpool are installing a temporary stand on the fourth side. In fact, they had to swap home games with Wigan because the construction will not be finished before the season starts.

Ian Holloway is a good manager, always quick with a funny quote, and willing to play attacking football. Unfortunately, he just doesn't have the horses. There is no goal-scoring threat, shaky goal-keeping, and their best defender from last season was on loan from Everton and will not be returning. Even the manager himself has admitted they could be relegated by Christmas.

There will be a draw against a big team, maybe even a home win against a top 4 side, an inspiring performance away from home in London or Manchester, and a lot of fun afternoons that the supporters should make sure they enjoy, because this is a one season adventure. Blackpool is going down, and they may set a record for fewest points in doing so.

Wolverhampton Wanderers, affectionately called "Wolves" by their supporters, managed to stay up last season despite only earning 38 points and conceding 24 more goals than they scored. They signed two players from Hull City, who were relegated, and they will not be bringing Michael Mancienne back from Chelsea on another loan deal.

The defense is passable, anchored by goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, big defender Christophe Berra, and hard-tackling midfielder Karl Henry. Kevin Doyle will provide some goals, although not enough to carry a club. The midfield is poor though. New signing Stephen Hunt could possibly provide a spark, but he is injured and won't feature until October.

I think Wolves will struggle to match last season's point total, and they may be relegated by March. Several of the clubs that struggled in the Premier League last season were in transition. I think several of them will bounce back this season and push on towards mid-table. A few who were able to survive, such as Wolves, will be moving in the other direction, as they are not able to compete, financially or otherwise.

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