At the start of the season there were many imponderables but one thing was absolutely certain, Blackpool were going back down to where they belong, the Championship. Holloway was always going to give us a bit of fun along the way, but ultimately every roller coaster in the Blackpool Pleasure Beach theme park has to come hurtling back to earth after ascending to its zenith. The Tangerine Dreamers had no right to a place in the Prem given their resources. Or so we thought.
But now, after a truly incredible double over Liverpool, nobody is quite so certain. In fact, should Blackpool plunder 3 points from tonight's game, they would be pretty hard for us to catch and would be a very good bet to survive come the end of the season. Tonight's game, therefore is absolutely crucial. Win it and we can survive, lose it and I would put my mortgage on us going down.
Last night was good, Wigan and West Brom sharing the points was the ideal result, keeping both within catching distance. We may not need Blackpool to collapse, Wolves may be the third team to drop and Birmingham, distracted perhaps by a Cup Final, are certainly not out of the relegation woods. Who knows, Newcastle may even tear themselves apart after the controversial sale of Carroll.
But let's forget all that for now. Tonight is the big one, the game where we have to get it right, where Grant has to deploy his resources correctly and where our superior class has to be supported by a furious passion, a desire to match the hunger of the Tangerine Dreamers in every department of the pitch. If we are not up for this one, God help us. We are a long way North and, Everton apart, that has signalled disaster so far this season. And last season for that matter. Sunderland away 0-1, Man Utd away 0-3, Liverpool away 0-3, Newcastle away 0-5; it doesn't make happy reading does it?
What team will Grant pick? It is probably too early for Ba. Keane must start surely, but alongside who? He can't play in a 4-3-3 system and doesn't work well as a foil for another small striker, which suggests he and Obinna will not work together. But dare Grant omit a player who has bagged a hat-trick at the weekend? He will be crucified if he does and we fail to score! So does Obinna play wide left? If so, Bridge can expect a busy night as Blackpool attack in waves down his flank.
If I was picking the side tonight, I would set up as follows:
Green; Jacobsen, Tomkins, Upson, Bridge; Parker, Noble, Spector; Obinna; Piquionne & Keane in a 4-3-1-2 formation.
But I can see an argument for starting Cole instead of Piquionne and for playing a flatter four in midfield. But no matter who the personnel, the team has to show more fight and mental strength than the brittle bunch that crumbled at Birmingham. Blackpool will be fired up for this one - their Premiership lives could be determined by this game - and if we are not at the races from the start, they will make us look like a stable yard of donkeys!
I have that same feeling in my stomach that I have as the roller coaster reaches the top of its climb. Get ready for a scream ride!