FERGIE’S PLAYING FOR THE DUGOUT
HE MIGHT have stopped short of confirming the ‘R’ word, but Barry Ferguson would be a happy man if he never kicks a ball in anger again.
His working title is currently interim player-manager but Ferguson is doing all he can to take away the ‘player’ part and concentrate full-time on masterminding an upturn in fortunes at Blackpool.
The current incumbent for the Seasiders was left a contented man after watching his side claim a draw at play-off chasing Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
And while it was often mundane, it was Blackpool who carved out the better chances, even if their winless run now stretches to 15 matches.
The 36-year-old Ferguson firmly believes that win is around the corner, describing consecutive draws at promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest and Ipswich as “four points dropped”.
After claiming three draws in his opening five games, Ferguson confirmed: “If I get the job, I really don’t think I will be playing.
“People have done both jobs (player-manager) but I don’t think I can do it. I made the decision not to play and stay on the sidelines, and the squad is becoming strong enough to cope.
“I am putting a new system in place and I want my team to be attack-minded. The commitment and effort has been there from the start but in the games against Forest and Ipswich, we have also shown quality and belief.”
Save for the opening ten minutes, it was the Seasiders who looked most likely to claim all three points with new signing Faris Haroun embroiled in a personal battle with Town keeper Scott Loach.
It was the stopper who came out on top with three smart saves – having only been told he was playing two hours before the match when Dean Gerken woke up with a stiff neck.
Before Loach’s starring role, in keeping with a match where defences dominated, Ipswich could have been two up after just ten minutes.
Top scorer David McGoldrick, who worryingly left the field at full-time clutching his knee, went agonisingly close with a header after striker partner Daryl Murphy had tested Matt Gilks from a tight angle.
Then it became the Haroun v Loach show with the midfielder denied by a smart down save when through on goal, Luke Chambers just beating Andy Keogh to the rebound.
Loach then got the better of Haroun prior to half-time and again near the end with little in the way of goalmouth action in between.
Ferguson had sympathy for Haroun, who signed on a free transfer last month following his release from divisional rivals Middlesbrough.
The Blackpool manager said: “Faris has only played three games all season so he is lacking a cutting edge and sharpness – but he knows that himself.”
Town boss Mick McCarthy cut a frustrated figure in his post-match summing-up with injury concerns over McGoldrick and midfielder Luke Hyam adding to his woes.
He said: “We started really well, had the best chances but didn’t take them. The game then developed into a scrap but the conditions were not great.
“We could have won it, but we could have lost it. We probably shaded it, but we didn’t play well enough to win the game.
“I knew Barnsley (last week) and Blackpool would be just as tough as Reading and QPR.
“They are fighting for their lives and Blackpool have been on a bad run. But they are fighting for Barry Ferguson and they are no mugs.”
GREEN’S DAY: Ipswich’s Paul Green narrowly avoids a fierce tackle from Blackpool’s Gary MacKenzie
HUNTING DOWN: Ipswich’s Stephen Hunt puts in a tackle