January 15, 2013
Thompson wants good times back
|1/4||A: Bolton Wanderers||1/4||A: Norwich City|
Blackpool caretaker manager Steve Thompson wants to bring the feelgood factor back to Bloomfield Road in Tuesday night's FA Cup third-round replay against Fulham.
On Friday evening, Pool lost their manager to an npower Championship rival for the second time this season as Michael Appleton agreed to fill the vacancy at Blackburn only 66 days after he took up the reins from Crystal Palace-bound Ian Holloway.
Clydesdale Bank Premier League outfit Dundee United have given their boss Peter Houston permission to discuss becoming Appleton's successor after Bradford's Phil Parkinson turned down an approach and Sean O'Driscoll reportedly shunned the opportunity in favour of taking charge at the Championship's bottom club, Bristol City.
Against this backdrop of off-field turmoil, the early season pace-setters have managed just four league wins since the start of October and are languishing in lower mid-table.
It is a far cry from their Premier League adventure under Holloway two seasons ago and last term's charge to the play-off final, where West Ham pipped them 2-1 at Wembley.
Thompson was on the coaching staff throughout this purple patch and, following a lacklustre defeat at Charlton on Saturday, he wants to rekindle some of that spirit.
"It's a massive game,'' he told Blackpool Player. "We've got to get that feelgood factor back.
"I think if we get a win tomorrow and a decent result against Cardiff (in the league this weekend) then we can get back on track again.
"We've got to be positive and make sure that we've got the fans and everything behind us against Fulham and get this place bouncing.
"We've had the good times. We're having a little bit of a blip at the moment and I need big characters and big players out there.
"If you look at the opposition, you shouldn't really need a team talk. We've been there playing against these teams, we know what they're like.
"You've got to give them the utmost respect but you can't let them come here and start passing the ball.''
Thompson acknowledges the quickfire managerial departures might have had a draining effect on a group of players he knows well and expects to come out fighting against Martin Jol's men.
"We've not had the ideal situation where we've lost two managers in two months - it's not a normal situation in football.
"But we've got to show, like always here at Blackpool, that we've got big characters. We treat all these disappointments (the same) and try and turn it round in our own way.
"On Saturday were they a little bit flat? I don't know. You don't want to use excuses with Michael going, but I don't think it helps.''
Defender Ian Evatt (knee) and winger Matt Phillips (toe) remain sidelined for Blackpool, although midfielder Isiah Osbourne is expected to recover from a cut eye that saw him substituted at The Valley.
Fulham manager Jol is expected to rest striker Dimitar Berbatov.
The Dutchman has hinted he will rest several first-team players for the replay given that it comes just three days after the Cottagers' 1-1 draw against Wigan.
Mahamadou Diarra (knee) and Kerim Frei (pelvis) are likely to miss out while Steven Sidwell is a doubt with a hamstring injury.
Fulham's poor form means it would not be too much of a surprise to see the Londoners lose.
The Tangerines would already be in the fourth round had it not been for a superb late equaliser from Giorgos Karagounis in the initial tie nine days ago.
A win would boost morale in Jol's squad, but he admits his priority remains the league, so he will rest a number of a key players for the fixture, which comes four days before the Cottagers travel to champions Manchester City.
Jol also knows that even if Fulham overcome Blackpool, they will then have to get past Manchester United to make it through to the fifth round.
"I was really happy to go to Blackpool and then I saw the draw,'' Jol said.
"I try to play the best team all the time and I feel we need to change the team for Blackpool to give players like (Dimitar) Berbatov, who have played all the matches, a rest.
"But I have to make a decision on that because I still feel, under the circumstances, it is very important to stay in the FA Cup.
"It is always nice to have an extra opportunity to stay in this wonderful competition.''