CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY-OFF FINAL PREVIEW: West Ham v Blackpool
Source: GETTY IMAGE
West Ham take on Blackpool in the Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium today.
Both teams are battling it out for the final place in the big-money Premier League.
The only similarities between the two is that they both suffered relegation last season as they both eye glory in London.
For either set of supporters, there is no worse footballing fate than being on the losing side in a Championship Play-Off Final.
After 46 league games, the excitement of winning a two-legged semi-final and the anticipation of a trip to Wembley, must be difficult to take when the chance of playing against some of Europe’s top elite clubs.
Its been such a draining campaign for both clubs and faliure would be a massive blow.
Unfortunately this fate is one that the players of either Blackpool or West Ham will have to endure on Saturday.
But with both sides having played in the Premier League last season, there will be no need for extra motivation to get back to the top-flight, apart from the chance to secure the financial windfall that comes with winning the play-off final.
Sam Allardyce's and Ian Holloway's approach to the game will be contrasting in their approach to the game and their style of play.
Under Holloway, Blackpool has responded excellently to their relegation last season. After this many feared it would be a long time before they were challenging at the top of the Championship again. Since the departure of Charlie Adam, David Vaughan and DJ Campbell. But after rebuilding their squad, Holloway’s men finished fifth in the Championship and are one game away from returning to the top flight.
The Tangerine army were applauded for their style of football and adventurous nature of play whilst in the Premier League last season and they go into the game with a seven game unbeaten run.
Whilst many may say Holloway has over achieved, it couldnt be different for Sam Allardyce and his side.
Since being appointed Hammers manager last June Allardyce’s experience of getting his side promoted and arguably the best squad in the league, automatic promotion was expected by the their fans.
Although Allardyce can still provide West Ham with a route back to the Premier League, it means that the pressure on his side will be enormous come Saturday.
A defeat could have catastrophic consequences for Big Sam, who is already viewed with mixed opinions at Upton Park. He will be confident that his players have enough experience in these types of games to see the Hammers through and to reward their loyal supporters with a victory at Wembley.
West Ham have played some excellent football so far this season, a style of play the Hammers fans would love to see more of in the Premier League next season.
If past meetings this season are a reflection on the outcome of the game than Blackpool fans shouldnt be hopeful.
West Ham won both meetings in the league this season, after securing 4-0 and 4-1 wins and Bloomfield Road and Upton Park.
Likely Line Ups:
West Ham: Green, Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Taylor, Noble, Nolan, O’Neill, Collison, Vaz Te, Cole.
Blackpool: Gilks, Crainey, Eardley, Evatt, Baptiste, Ferguson, M Phillips, Angel, Taylor-Fletcher, Dobbie, Ince.