Give Gary credit for re­viv­ing Black­pool

THEY WILL BE SO HARD TO BEAT

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - Steve Evans

WHEN I look for the po­ten­tial win­ner of the League Two play-offs, I ask my­self: Who caused us most prob­lems? Who re­ally gave us a game?

And the team I al­ways come back to is Black­pool. The way Gary Bowyer’s got them or­gan­ised, the style of foot­ball they play. They’re a big, phys­i­cal side who will be dif­fi­cult for any­one to beat.

When Gary was at Black­burn, peo­ple didn’t re­alise what a good job he was do­ing. Now they’ve been rel­e­gated to League One, it’s clear what he achieved.

He worked won­ders in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances and, to an ex­tent, he’s done it again. We went up to Bloom­field Road in Jan­uary and won 1-0.

Look­ing around that day, I think it’s fair to say the Black­pool sup­port­ers had de­serted it. That’s tough for any man­ager.

But I’ve got a feel­ing they’ll come back for this and I re­ally hope they do. There aren’t many bet­ter sights in foot­ball than see­ing that ground full of orange and white in the sun­shine.

I know fans have their rea­sons for stay­ing away but Gary de­serves it and, in a com­pe­ti­tion that will be de­cided by the finest of mar­gins, that sup­port could be what gets them over the line.

Like I say, though, these play­offs are so tight. There are no favourites, no un­der­dogs. The re­al­ity is that any of them can win it. If Ol­lie Watkins plays well, Ex­eter are dan­ger­ous.

Dan­ger­ous

If Danny Hyl­ton’s on fire, it means Lu­ton play well. The Hat­ters will also be backed by a tremen­dous sup­port. Ul­ti­mately, it will be about who rises to the oc­ca­sion – on and off the pitch.

What’s in­trigu­ing about the Cham­pi­onship play-offs is the clash of styles. You’ve got Sh­effield Wed­nes­day’s coun­ter­at­tack­ing, Hud­der­s­field’s press­ing, Ful­ham’s all-out at­tack and Read­ing’s pos­ses­sion-based foot­ball. It just shows you there are a mil­lion ways to be suc­cess­ful.

So which style will win a place in the Pre­mier League? When I sit back and think it through, I can­not see past Sh­effield Wed­nes­day.

They have qual­ity play­ers like Fer­nando Forestieri, ar­guably the strong­est squad in the divi­sion and will be backed with an in­cred­i­ble sup­port.

Like my old club Leeds United, they know how to create an in­tim­i­dat­ing wall of noise.

Form

Ful­ham are in form and will be a threat. Hud­der­s­field Town have been bril­liant all sea­son un­der a top chair­man in Dean Hoyle. No­body de­serves pro­mo­tion more than him. If Wed­nes­day are to be vic­to­ri­ous they will need to earn it.

In League One, we know the fi­nal­ists – Brad­ford City and Mill­wall, who lost out to Barns­ley in last’s year’s fi­nal.

This is one game I am re­ally strug­gling to call. Both have good man­agers and tough, tal­ented play­ers.

At a push, I am go­ing with the Ban­tams. I just have a feel­ing that they may bet­ter suited to play­ing at Wem­b­ley.

But I wish both Stu­art McCall and Neil Har­ris all the very best. They are two good men and who­ever goes up it will be richly de­served.

Ac­tion Im­ages

A GOOD SHOUT: Black­pool boss Gary BowyerPICTURE:

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