I once sat next to Tony Mowbray at an airport. He reads the Daily Mail. Not much of an anecdote I know, so let’s get to the football.
The Ian Holloway that we know and love – and thus the Blackpool we know and love – is/are back, and the tangerine army go into this weekend’s game with high flying Middlesbrough full of confidence following their hammering of Leeds and win over Millwall.
Hopefully the international break will not have stifled our momentum because Middlesbrough are very tough opposition, lying just outside the automatic promotion places.
A win for ‘Pool would see them close the gap on Mowbray’s side and further strengthen their footing in the top six, but a defeat could see us slip down a congested Championship table.
‘Pool won here more than comfortably last time out; a repeat would see our confidence surge even further…
You can tell the real Ollie’s back; he’s talking about getting promoted all over again:
‘The players need to create the same atmosphere (within the dressing room) as we had when we went up, and that will come down to me handling them correctly, talking to them and dealing with them.
‘I can’t guarantee them a game every week, but I will make sure that if they give me what I want, I will praise them and reward them eventually. They will get their reward by being part of a Premier League team and that is surely what it is all about.’
Boro meanwhile are unbeaten in fifteen at home, and Tony Mowbray wants that run to continue tomorrow afternoon:
‘I think it will be an interesting game and we are looking forward to it
‘We know how they play and I would say to the supporters that at times expect Blackpool to have a lot of the ball because they are an attractive, passing, moving football team.
‘But I would hope as well there will be times when we can create real excitement and opportunities around their goal.’
Ian Evatt turns 30 tomorrow and wants to celebrate his birthday with three points:
‘It is a cliché but taking one game at a time is how you build runs, so trying to get a third win on the bounce is all we are thinking about.
‘Middlesbrough are four points ahead of us, so if we win we will be right on their tails. They are unbeaten at home but that’s got to end some time. We have good memories from when we last went there and won 3-0.’
Finally, Alex Baptiste has pinpointed Ludovic Sylvestre as a key man behind the ‘Pool’s resurgence:
‘Ludo has unbelievable ability.
‘The lads who have been here the last two years know he is definitely the best technical player we have at the club.
‘I rate him higher than David Vaughan in that respect because the way he can keep and manipulate the ball is absolutely frightening.
‘It makes a difference to have someone like that in midfield, and credit to him for keeping his head up and keeping going because he didn’t have the best first 18 months.
‘Ludo has been in and out of the team since he arrived, but he has been our best player in the last two games and he deserves praise for really making his mark.’
Middlesbrough Team News:
Rhys Williams and Nicky Bailey are touch and go for the weekend, as is Seb Hines. Justin Hoyte and Kevin Thomson are set to miss out through injury, however.
Player to watch: Malaury Martin
Spent pretty much his entire time at Bloomfield Road injured… it will be interesting to see what the Frenchmen is made of.
Blackpool Team News:
Elliot Grandin is around a fortnight away from being full match fit, but Gary Taylor-Fletcher is back in contention.
Neal Eardley is struggling with a hamstring injury, so expect birthday boy Ian Evatt to return to the side.
Craig Sutherland has joined Plymouth on loan.
Player to watch: Kevin Phillips
Could return to the starting XI after his winning goal against Millwall.
Match Facts & Stats
Boro have 23 wins against us to our 17 against them.
Last time we came across them was in our promotion season where we recorded 3-0 and 2-0 wins over them.
Middlesbrough last beat us at home in 1986 in the FA Cup; they have not beaten us at home in the league for 38 years.
Boro are going for their third straight win like us, and are enjoying their best start to the season in 14 years.
Boro are unbeaten in 15 at home.
The last time we won three league games on the bounce was April 2010.
Last season we were conceding late goals left, right and centre; now we’re scoring them – six in stoppage time, and eight overall in the last ten minutes.
We’ve committed the fewest fouls in the division – 125.
Birmingham at home next Saturday.