Blackpool v Blackburn Rovers, 3pm
15 December ~ At the end of a week marking two years since Sam Allardyce was sacked, Blackburn Rovers take on a resurgent Blackpool at Bloomfield Road today. The situation Rovers find themselves in – 13th in the Championship, one win in eight games, a new manager under pressure – underlines the madness of the last two years of the Venky's ownership of the club. Allardyce was reportedly sacked because of the style of play Blackburn deployed but he has been replaced by false starts and failed attempts at passing football.
The latest is being conducted by the popular but so far hapless new manager Henning Berg. No style of play is good if you are losing consistently, just ask Arsenal fans.
The one certainty about the make-up of Berg's best team is that it contains Jordan Rhodes. His 11 league goals this season have been in spite of a system that does not suit him. Left isolated up front with a lumbering midfield failing to support him, Rhodes has shown his quality in scoring consistently in trying circumstances. If Blackburn are to get close to the play-offs they need to find a strike partner and wingers who can provide the sort of service that Rhodes enjoyed at Huddersfield.
If Blackburn are reliant on Rhodes for goals then the same thing is certainly true for Blackpool and Tom Ince. The 20-year-old has scored 13 league goals already this season, nine more than the next Blackpool player. Whether Ince can continue this form at a higher level remains to be seen but Liverpool's use of him as a makeweight in the Charlie Adam transfer package in 2011 may go down as one of the worst in the history of the Premier League.
Blackpool have not lost in seven league games, improving dramatically since Ian Holloway departed for Crystal Palace. These seven games have, though, included five score draws proving that Holloway's legacy may take more time to depart than the man himself. With no fresh injury worries Blackpool can name an unchanged side from the team that took a draw from Crystal Palace last weekend.
If Blackpool are a settled side, in good form, Blackburn are anything but. Their global advisor, Shebby Singh, always good value for a quote, has defended the Venky's ownership this week. Asked at a fans forum why the owners do not attend games, he replied that the Venky's were "very much hands on, although physically they are not here". Whether or not that is anatomically possible remains to be seen. What is for certain is that Blackburn are devoid of any real identity, with falling attendances and dissent among the remaining fans. Blackpool should take full advantage today. Tom Greene