THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Doing good things with a small squad

icon blackpoolaway31 August ~ Last season was one of the most turbulent in Blackpool's recent history – and with four trips to Wembley and a relegation all in the last decade, that's saying something. We had four different managers in 2012-13, assistant manager Steve Thompson being put in charge twice as both Ian Holloway and Michael Appleton left in quick succession. So when Paul Ince took the job in February, Blackpool fans were right to react cautiously. Since his managerial career began at Macclesfield in October 2006, Ince has been in charge of five different clubs.

That included two spells at MK Dons, but he has not lasted longer than a year anywhere. Yet at Blackpool he has seemingly rediscovered the managerial talent that led the then-Premier League Blackburn to take him from MK Dons in 2008.

Having comfortably avoided the drop last season, the Seasiders are now joint top of the Championship table despite a difficult summer in which 16 players left Bloomfield Road. Blackpool have also had to begin the season without Tom Ince and Matt Phillips, the latter having now secured a move to QPR.

With an extremely thin squad to choose from, Ince has resorted to playing two defensive midfielders on the wings in Neal Bishop and Chris Basham, while placing youth-team players on the bench. But Blackpool are undefeated, with three wins and a draw so far – Watford, also unbeaten, are today's visitors.

The football isn't always great and it's hard not to remember the days of swashbuckling attack under Holloway. But we finally have a more sustainable system, built from the back on a solid defence. In fact, it has led to Ince now holding the record for the most points-per-game of any manager in Blackpool's history.

So far Paul Ince's managerial career has been defined by his four months at Blackburn, where he won only three games out of 17. His reputation has taken a long time to rebuild but while the fans are at the most only cautiously optimistic, Ince deserves the credit he is beginning to get. Nathan Fogg

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