HEADLINE writers up and down the country have been in their element as Blackpool have been rocked relentlessly over the past three months.
A dismal run of 17 league and FA Cup games without victory started in early December when struggling Yeovil lowered their colours in the south west.
The Tangerines made the news for all the wrong reasons when they had no fewer than three players sent off as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Huish Park.
It had all started so promisingly for Blackpool when five wins in their first six games – including a 2-1 victory at Dean Court in September – had seen them top the table.
However, the triumph in Dorset had been marred when former boss Paul Ince had confronted the match officials following the final whistle, the 46-year-old earning himself a five-game stadium ban for his indiscretions.
Still well-placed in fourth following a 2-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday at the end of November, the rot then well and truly set in, with Ince eventually being shown the door in mid-January after a run of eight defeats and a draw in nine games.
The former Liverpool and Inter Milan midfielder had been the target for vitriolic abuse from his own supporters following a 2-0 defeat at bottom club Barnsley before the Blackpool Supporters’ Association called on chairman Karl Oyston to axe him after taking a unanimous vote of no confidence.
Ince was subsequently sacked by text while studying for his Pro Licence at the FA’s national football centre in Burton, the former England captain leaving Bloomfield Road with Blackpool 14th in the table, nine points adrift of the play-offs and eight above the relegation zone.
Veteran midfielder Barry Ferguson was handed the reins on a caretaker basis and is still waiting for his first taste of victory after seven games, although three draws could be viewed by some as a minor improvement.
However, while the former Scotland captain may have hoped the green shoots of recovery were on the horizon after picking up points against Doncaster (1-1), Nottingham Forest (1-1) and Ipswich (0-0), a 4-0 drubbing at Watford six days ago again set the alarm bells ringing.
Under both Ince and Ferguson, the statistics make for grim reading with just four points garnered from their past 16 Championship games, the dispiriting run also seeing them knocked out of the FA Cup at Bolton in the third round.
Their disciplinary record is also woeful and Blackpool, who have had 10 red cards this season, including nine under Ince, will have both Tony McMahon and Jack Robinson suspended against Cherries tomorrow.
McMahon collected his 10th booking of the season during a 2-1 defeat by Birmingham, while Robinson, on loan from Liverpool and dismissed at Dean Court earlier this season, received his third red card against the Blues after hauling down his Reds team-mate Jordan Ibe, who is on loan at St Andrew’s.