Blackpool manager and chairman in dispute
13 September ~ Last weekend the murmurs coming out of Bloomfield Road seemed to strongly suggest that José Riga would be leaving Blackpool after only five league games in charge, to be replaced by Owen Coyle. For one reason or another, the Coyle deal fell through and attention then turned to Burton Albion's Gary Rowett, who met with chairman Karl Oyston on Tuesday before deciding against a move to the seaside. Since then, silence has descended. Despite being so publicly undermined, Riga has continued to take training this week and no communication has been forthcoming from the club.
From being on the verge of the sack, it's now entirely conceivable that Riga will be in the dugout to face Wolverhampton Wanderers today. As much as the chairman wants rid of his manager, he seems reluctant to cut ties until he has a replacement lined up. The all-important question, though, is why does Oyston want to ditch his manager so soon?
Riga has been at loggerheads with Oyston since he was appointed as manager at the start of June. Disagreement over the transfer policy led to a strange stand-off between the pair which resulted in a disastrous pre-season littered with trialists and cancelled friendlies. Only 13 senior players were available for the opening game of the season and although new faces have slowly arrived to take the squad size up towards a respectable number, Riga is on record as stating only one of the 17 signings were of his choosing.
Citing a lack of quality in the squad after the defeat at Millwall two weeks ago, it is believed Riga wanted four key players on deadline day to strengthen the core of his team. The transfer window closed without any business being concluded and since that time, chairman and manager have reportedly not spoken. It's a fundamentally broken relationship, which can't have been helped by a war of words between Oyston and Riga's assistant Bart de Roover, who left the club last week after failing to agree a contract and complaining of an unprofessional working environment.
Incredibly, "unprofessionalism" is something that Oyston has had the gall to accuse his manager of when Riga spent some time in his native country during the international break, but that claim reeks of hypocrisy from a chairman who has presided over such a spectacular fall from grace for the Seasiders in the past three years. Riga has the fans' backing, but with Wolves riding high in the Championship, it's difficult to see Blackpool's rag-tag bunch getting off the mark. Chris Walker