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Blackpool v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet League One

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Fan Focus: Blackpool fan Tom has praised the impact of Sunderland loanee Elliot Embleton!

Sunderland travel to Blackpool as two of League One’s playoff sides meet. Ahead of the match, we spoke to Blackpool fan and host of The Third Tier Podcast, Tom Mayne, to discuss their brilliant run of form, how both Elliot Embleton and Ethan Robson are performing, as well as what Sunderland fans can expect from the match.

Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: Blackpool currently sit fifth in League One and are on a marvellous run of form, are fans starting to develop a belief that you can achieve promotion via the playoffs?

TM: I’m in a frame of mind where we’re taking each game as it comes, as much as it's a cliche, the run Blackpool are on is astonishing considering our start.

I like many Blackpool fans believe we should do it based on the quality we have in our squad and the run we’re on, it isn’t guaranteed but whilst it’s in our hands we should believe, we’ve drawn a lot of games at home and that’s a slight worry.

If we make the playoffs, then who knows? We are a successful team in the playoffs, but they’re a lottery.

MC: Manager Neil Critchley joined the club from Liverpool under-23s last season, what changes has he made which has caused such a lift in form?

TM: This is a difficult one. I personally believe since we introduced Colin Calderwood to the management team it has made all the difference.

He has worked hard with Neil Critchley and has given Blackpool the ability to be smart in League One and not show the vulnerability we had in the early stages, after such a poor start.

Critchley’s hard work and research into each opponent has certainly bared its fruits also, Chris Maxwell (Blackpool’s captain) has stated that he’s never worked with a manager like it, he researches every single opponent extensively and prepares differently for every single opponent, which I found very interesting.

New signings have been key, players like Kenny Dougall, Daniel Ballard, Daniel Gretarsson, and of course Jerry Yates have all proven key to our teams core and have made the difference in many games.

MC: Blackpool striker Jerry Yates has scored 18 League One goals this season since joining from Rotherham, what makes him so clinical?

TM: Jerry Yates has been magnificent, what specifically makes him clinical is tough to say because he scores so many different types of goals, whilst working ridiculously hard off of the ball.

His work rate is exceptional and his technical ability is a level above in my opinion; his flicks, touches, skill, and ice-cold composure have been a recipe for success this season. He works hard, and when presented with an opportunity very rarely fails to score.

He’s scored solo runs, moments of magic such as Northampton at home, made his own goals such as the solo run vs Portsmouth away and he’s scored 100% of his league penalties.

He’s having an incredible season.

Blackpool v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One
Jerry Yates is League One’s joint-third top scorer with 18 goals for Blackpool this season.
Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: Elliot Embleton joined Blackpool on loan from Sunderland on deadline day, what sort of impact has he made so far with the club?

TM: Personally I feel he’s added a lot to the team.

Embleton was in and out of the team, playing his first game against Ipswich where he was poor, but since he came on at halftime against Burton, he was for a part of the turning point of our season.

He has operated very well in a 4-2-3-1 system which has allowed Sulley Kaikai to have far more freedom.

He’s showed energy, creativity, and possesses the ability to cross; one criticism would be he could be better at his final decision-making in the final third.

Embleton, in my opinion, would add something to the current Sunderland side, however, I wouldn’t question Sunderland's decision to loan him, as he wasn’t part of their immediate plans.

MC: Blackpool also signed Sunderland academy graduate Ethan Robson on a free transfer in the summer, has he managed to stay free of injury and perform well?

TM: Robson’s started for the Seasiders 13 times, he was in the team at the start of the season, in my opinion, he played some decent passes and created some good chances for the team.

Having said that, he has since found himself out of the team and mainly making the odd appearance off the bench (10 so far).

He might still have a part to play with Blackpool playing Saturday/Tuesday every week.

MC: The Seasiders ended up signing two left-backs who were strongly linked with Sunderland this summer in Luke Garbutt and Demetri Mitchell - have they proved to be good signings?

TM: Luke Garbutt has been a focal point in Blackpool’s recent form; he’s started 19 times and featured off the bench six times.

He is definitely better offensively than defensibly but has been very solid. His two goals and three assists came at important times, so he has been a worthy signing.

Mitchell is not a full back in my opinion, he starts on the wing now either in a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 system.

His fearless attacking runs and his energy has been welcomed in this Blackpool team.

His end product could do with work though, with just one goal and one assist. I think he’ll start Saturday so we hope he can make an impact.

Blackpool v Everton - Pre-Season Friendly
Former Manchester United left-back Demetri Mitchell was on trial with Sunderland at the start of the season.
Photo by Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: Since Simon Sadler’s takeover in 2019, do Blackpool fans feel they now have their club back and that the future is bright after such a dark end to the Oyston era?

TM: We feel like we have our club back and more, the only gutting thing is we’ve been locked down in between takeovers so we’ve rarely got to show our appreciation in the stadium.

He’s invested smartly into the club, improving the stadium, squad, and everything about the club. The fans couldn’t be happier after the stain of the last owners, he’s a breath of fresh air and we’ll forever be thankful he took over.

Sadler is hungry for success, wants the best for the club, and is determined for results, what more could you want?

I could go on forever about his impacts but that’s for another time!

MC: Who are the eleven players you believe Critchley will select against Sunderland?

TM: (4-4-2) Maxwell (GK), Turton, Ballard, Gretarsson, Garbutt, Kaikai, Ward, Dougall, Mitchell, Simms, Yates.

MC: The clubs drew 1-1 in their sole fixture against one another last season, what is your honest prediction for the final score at Bloomfield Road on Saturday?

TM: We draw too much at home, in our last 10 games we’ve drawn four at home, so if we start slowly I am worried as Sunderland are capable of doing damage.

I hope we start well and if we do I’m going for a 2-1 Blackpool win.

Although my head tells me 2-2, let’s just hope Blackpool don’t start slowly!

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