I could dress this match preview up in flamboyant hyperbole, but I don’t need to. The media have done it for me, and anyone who has any understanding of football and/or the Seasiders knows how important tomorrow’s match is anyway.
What I will say is that tomorrow afternoon could make or break our beloved football club: win, and things may never be the same again, but lose, and we may never scale such heights again.
In saying that though, there’s no pressure on us – the pressure is all on Cardiff. No one expected us to go within ninety minutes of the Premier League, and we can only hope that the heroes in white and tangerine once again force people across the world to eat their words.
Ian Holloway admits that Blackpool may never get a better opportunity to reach the Premier League than tomorrow afternoon:
‘This is it. It’s crunch time. We could do something absolutely marvellous, something that no one expected – this is our time to step forward and show what we’re made of.
‘I don’t think we’ll ever have a better chance. We might not ever get it again, to do something that hasn’t been done for 40 years.
‘We will certainly try our best. We’ll go to Wembley and play attacking football whatever. That’s why I think it could potentially be one of the best ever games in the Championship play-off.
‘If it ends 5-4 I don’t care as long as we’ve got the five.
‘That’s how we’re approaching it and I know (Cardiff boss) Dave Jones will be the same because his team don’t know any different either.’
Blackpool Team News:
Ian Holloway is expected to name the same eleven that battered Forest, although Stephen Dobbie is pushing for a start after his performance from the bench at the City Ground.
Hameur Bouazza is an outside bet to make the subs’ bench.
Player to watch: Charlie Adam
I was inclined to go for the cliched answer of ‘all of them’, but I’ve gone for Charlie.
The player himself admits that he’s been holding back during the past few games for fear of picking up a booking which would have ruled him out of tomorrow’s game.
However, the shackles are off now and you can guarentee that he’ll be giving it his all tomorrow. Provided that he doesn’t always go for the Hollywood pass, Charlie has the ability to run tomorrow’s game on a big Wembley pitch.
Cardiff Team News:
Peter Whittingham is expected to feature despite an injury concern earlier in the week.
Anthony Gerrard is expected to return to the side at the heart of the defence.
Player to watch: Chris Burke
A tough choice, but Burke gets the nod.
He’s scored and created numerous goals this season and the Bluebirds will be looking for the winger to ping the ball to Jay Bothroyd, and give the target man the opportunity to bring the likes of Michael Chopra, Ross McCormack, Peter Whittingham and Joe Ledley into play.
A mention to Cardiff’s keeper David Marshall as well, who is one of the best in the division and will prove difficult to beat.
Match Facts & Stats
There’s only one fact/stat that you really need to know: the winners will be promoted to the Premier League.
Andre Marriner will be the man in the middle tomorrow, and hopefully he’ll perform as well as Mark Clattenburg did at the City Ground last week.
Hopefully the game won’t be settled by a contentious decision either.
Marriner has officiated thirty six games this season, showing one hundred and fifteen yellows and ten reds.
His last Blackpool game was the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in January last year.
I have refused to predict the results over our last few games on here, and will be refusing again for this one – if it ain’t broke, why fix it?!
In saying that, if we play at our best, I think we’ll win. Fingers crossed we do.
Our next game (minus pre-season friendlies) will either be a Premier League match or another Championship match.
I know which one I’d prefer…