The Opposition View - Blackpool
1. The Blackpool ship seems to have been sailing smoother in recent weeks. Describe what sort of period you were going through in July and August.
It was nothing short of a disgrace. We got a decent manager on board in Jose Riga (who I believe is still the right man for the job) and left him with eight players to coach all pre-season. We had to cancel a number of warm-up matches and a tour to Spain. We were a complete laughing stock. The usual promises made by the owners were again not kept. I wish I could say that that it has got better recently, we do have a squad (of sorts) but the manager is not backed in the transfer market and one win in thirteen only means one thing - League One next season.
2. Are you with the masses in that Karl Oyston is the sole reason behind the horrible mess that was caused?
Without doubt. His stubbornness is only outweighed by his sheer contempt for the fans. Whether it be through his sons on social media or in the press, his goading of the people who pay to watch the team is astonishing.
His approach has turned the club into a shell of its former self. He will not pay agents and refuses to sign anyone until the last possible moment - something which he is on record as saying he does 'because it saves wages`. This leaves us with bottom of the barrel free transfers who are unfit and ill-prepared for the season. The fact there is little to no investment in the team is compounded by the fact that the Oystons have taken more than £23 million out of the club since our Premier League tenure - all of which has gone into other businesses run by the family.
3. Under the circumstances, how good a job has Jose Riga done in his short tenure in charge?
Obviously the results have been poor but what else can Riga do? His hands are tied. During some matches this season we have played some great football and have not always got the results we deserve, other times we have been truly awful. The fans still back Riga due to his public stance against Karl Oyston and the fact that he has been treated disgracefully (Oyston trying to appoint Gary Rowett while Riga was still in charge). Throughout, Riga has remained a dignified figure and it is very difficult not to like the guy.
4. What are your realistic expectations for the season now and do you expect to achieve them?
At the moment we are going to be relegated, no doubt. We need some quality on the pitch and on the subs bench. Occasionally, especially in matches against promotion candidates we have played really well and that gives me hope that we can drag ourselves off the bottom of the table, but until there is change at the top we are in terminal decline.
5. Which Blackpool player(s) do you expect to have a big season?
As you would expect our goalkeeper Joe Lewis has been a busy boy this season - he has turned in some terrific performances (despite results), as has former WBA man Ishmael Miller, who on his day is capable of tearing any Championship defence apart. He is a striker I have always rated very highly but injuries have blighted his career so far. Quite frankly I was surprised we were able to sign him. Other than that I guess our 'big` signing was Jose Miguel Cubero, who played for Costa Rica in the World Cup, although he has barely figured due to a work permit fiasco and injury - he will miss out again on Saturday.
6. If you could take any Reading player, who would it be and why?
I know he`s not technically your player, but I would take Glenn Murray in a heartbeat, a proven goal scorer and someone who can profit from the havoc that Miller causes. One of our problems this season has been missing chances at key moments and Murray`s finishing would be a great help. Jamie Mackie wouldn`t go a miss either, he is decent with the ball at his feet and can provide a little magic at times - something we are sorely missing.
7. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see from Riga on Saturday?
It`s a difficult one as we have had a few injuries of late. Both our first choice full-backs are unavailable so Reading will get some joy on the flanks. For the most part this season we have played with Miller as the solo frontman and a five-man midfield (with the wide players having licence to get forward). We will probably line-up with Lewis, Daniels, Rentmeister, Clarke, Dielna, E. Oriol, Perkins, Lundstram, Orlandi, Delfouneso and Miller.
8. What is your prediction for the game?
Despite our results we have occasionally played some decent football. I see that Reading are in an awful slump at the moment and have shipped nine goals in their last three games. That said, with both sides short on confidence goals will be at a premium, I think it will be cagey and nervous affair. The eternal optimist in me thinks we might nick it with a last minute goal, but I can see it being 0-0.