The transfer window slammed shut at 6pm last Tuesday..or so Sky Sports News would have you believe, anyway. The reality was that with deals still being finalised in the final frantic minutes, it wasn’t until two days later that the Seasiders announced their last transfer deal.
Blackpool have now signed 12 players since Wembley, so I’ll quickly run through them individually to see if it gives the squad enough strength and depth to see the club compete in the top flight.
Richard Kingson – free agent
A signing borne of necessity more than anything else. With Rachubka sidelined with a lengthy injury, Holloway could not rely on Mark Halstead to provide back-up to Matt Gilks. Halstead is one for the future, and being thrown in at this point would surely harm his development. Kingson is often cited as an example of the stereotypical poor African goalkeeper, and his failure to impress at Wigan indicates that he will struggle to displace Gilks from the team. Many players have been written off before joining Blackpool though, so who’s to say Kingson cannot prove people wrong too?
Dekel Keinan – free agent
Keinan eventually joined the Seasiders before the Arsenal game after a drawn out work permit situation. He has experience in the Champions League with Maccabi Haifa and features regularly for Israel. We’ve not seen much of him yet, but he should be a solid enough squad player.
Craig Cathcart – undisclosed from Manchester United
Never started for United’s first team, but has already impressed and looks set to be one of Holloway’s first choice centre-halves. His move to Bloomfield Road looks justified already following Cathcart’s debut for Northern Ireland on Friday. A sound investment and a 3 year contract could see him be a cornerstone of the ‘Pool defence for years to come.
David Carney – undisclosed from FC Twente
An Australian international, Carney has had a number of clubs in recent years, but will be hoping to settle on the seaside. With no other cover at left back, it is likely Carney will provide competition for Stephen Crainey, although Carney has previously been utilised on the wing. Carney may offer more pace at left back, an area which some sides and this very blog have highlighted as a potential weakness.
Chris Basham – undisclosed from Bolton Wanderers
Another young player on a 3 year contract, Basham gives much-needed depth to the middle of the pitch. Hasn’t had much of an opportunity yet, but looks a busy player and will no doubt play a bigger role as the season goes on.
Ludovic Sylvestre – undisclosed from Mlada Boleslav
Ludo appears to be a very neat and tidy player who rarely gives the ball away. Holloway has repeated his mantra of trying to keep the ball and Sylvestre fits that mould perfectly. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sylvestre become a first-team regular.
Malaury Martin – free agent
Released by AS Monaco at the end of last season, Martin is something of an unknown. He had a failed trial in the MLS, yet earned himself a one year deal following a successful month-long trial at Bloomfield Road. He has until now been injured and the club seem silent over just when he may return to full fitness.
Elliot Grandin – undisclosed from CSKA Sofia
Grandin is perhaps the most exciting of the new boys. Once a hot prospect at Marseille, Grandin has pace in abundance and has looked at home in the Premier League. Quite how he will be used by Holloway is unclear at this time. At the DW Stadium and against Wigan he appeared to have a free role, and was noticeably less effective when pushed further forward at Arsenal (although the entire team understandably had an off day after going down to 10 men). Regardless of where he’s played, Grandin may have the quality to unlock top flight defences that we didn’t have last season.
Matt Phillips – rising to £700,000 from Wycombe Wanderers
Representing England in the U19 European Championships in the summer, Phillips is certainly a talented youngster. It is unlikely Holloway will call upon Phillips on a regular basis and his signing is likely to form part of a more of a long-term plan. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Phillips loaned out to a Championship club if ‘Pool’s other forwards steer clear of injuries. An exciting prospect, though.
Luke Varney – season long loan from Derby County
It raised a few eyebrows when Blackpool turned to the Championship to loan a player out of favour at Pride Park. Varney showed what he can do on the pitch however, to instantly answer any potential critics with a sparkling performance against Fulham on his debut, as discussed in more detail in the last blog post.
Marlon Harewood – free agent
The release of Ben Burgess, whatever your view of him, resulted in an absence of a big target man. Harewood, while not quite matching up to Burgess in terms of size, is undoubtedly an improvement in every other department. He adds Premier League experience to a squad with very little and has a respectable goalscoring record at this level. One small worry surrounds his fitness, but if he stays fit Harewood will be a key part of ‘Pool’s survival bid.
DJ Campbell – undisclosed from Leicester City
Last, but by no means least, is DJ. The transfer saga that rumbled on all summer was finally resolved with minutes of the transfer window to spare, although one gets the feeling his switch was inevitable. The Seasiders have perhaps overpaid at a rumoured £1.2m, but Campbell is a key signing sure to lift the spirits of both the fans and players, who hold him dear. DJ played a vital role in getting Blackpool into the big league, and his permanent signing is a welcome one.
Despite enduring a frustrating summer, Ian Holloway has to be satisfied with his acquisitions. On a relative shoestring budget, the squad looks to have a lot more quality than it did, with many of the signings being players who are young with bags of potential.
Is the squad strong enough to survive? I can’t wait to find out.