Blackpool cancels preseason tour of Spain with just eight players on roster


Championship side Blackpool has cancelled its preseason tour of Spain to, as its official website put it, “concentrate on player recruitment.”

That might be a good idea.

Soccer requires 11 players on the pitch. This may sound trivial, until you see that Blackpool currently has just eight players on the senior team under contract.

A closer look reveals three defenders, a midfielder, and four strikers on the Blackpool payroll, and not a single goalkeeper.

Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston told the official website:

“The manager has taken the decision – and I agree with the decision – to cancel the pre-season tour so that our time is better served to try and get some of the player deals that we’ve been trying to get over the line for some time across the line. Our time will be far better spent preparing here than going over to Spain.”

To say the club is in a period of transition would be an understatement. After losing manager Ian Holloway in 2012 following a near-promotion season, Blackpool has seen Paul Ince, Barry Ferguson, and now Jose Riga (pictured) take charge.

They finished 20th in the Championship last season, narrowly avoiding relegation to League 1 by two points.  Glenn Bowley, chairman of the official supporter’s group, told the BBC a few days ago, “it’s complete and utter shambles.”

However, Oyston doesn’t see it that way. “There is no panic,” he told BBC Sport. “In fact, I see it as a benefit rather than a downside. It allows the manager to bring in his own team, as opposed to a manager picking up a squad that is already overloaded and he doesn’t think is good enough.”

Sure, whatever you say Karl.

Blackpool was meant to take on Spanish clubs Granada and Cartegana in friendlies during their now-cancelled tour.

Instead, it appears Oyston’s son Sam is shooting pigeons inside the ground (the tweet was later deleted) – a great use of time with such a fine state of club affairs on their hands.

The Tangerines have until August 9th – less than a month – to put together a squad, as they open their league season against Nottingham Forest on that date.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.