Blackpool have endured a torrid season in the Championship and have been bottom of the table since the middle of October.
Starting the campaign with barely enough players to field a full team, they have been struggling against the odds and will need a huge reversal of form to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
They failed to win any of their first 10 games, including our 2-1 victory at Bloomfield Road, and have only picked up four victories in their 32 matches – all 1-0 and all at home.
On the road they have drawn six games but lost 10 and only found the net 13 times while conceding 36.
They have picked up draws in their last two matches however – in an extraordinary 4-4 match against Nottingham Forest and then in a 1-1 game at Blackburn on Saturday.
Relegation would end an eight-year spell out of the bottom two divisions since they won the League One play-off final in 2007.
Included in that time was their memorable season in the Premier League in 2010/11 in which they only suffered relegation on the final day.
WHO’S THE GAFFER?
Lee Clark is making his second visit of the season to Griffin Park having been in charge of Birmingham for their game here in August.
Nearly two months after that match and with City 21st in the Championship table, Lee and his assistant Steve Watson were sacked by the St Andrews club after nearly two-and-a-half years in charge.
However Lee was only out of work for 10 days before being appointed as Blackpool manager on a rolling one-year deal in place of Jose Riga.
Lee was previously manager of Huddersfield, leading them into the League One play-offs in successive seasons and also presiding over a new Football League record of 43 unbeaten games during his time in charge.
He was sacked by the club in February 2012 when they were fourth in the League One table. His successor Simon Grayson then went on to lead the Terriers to promotion that season.
Clark had a 16-year playing career in which he played more than 500 games for Newcastle (two spells), Sunderland and Fulham. He also won 11 caps for the England under-21 team.
Lee has an ex-Bee on his coaching staff in the shape of first-team coach Paul Stephenson.
Paul was a winger who joined us near the end of our previous season at this level in March 1993. He made his debut in our game at his hometown club Newcastle and went on to make a total of 11 appearances in the campaign as we failed to avoid relegation.
He was a regular in each of the next two seasons when fit, but also had his share of injuries – the scariest occasion coming when he fractured his skull in a game at Bradford City in November 1994.
He returned at the end of January and played every game for the rest of the season as we lost in the play-offs – with his final appearance being in “that” semi-final, second leg against Huddersfield.
Blackpool’s visit on Tuesday will be their first since the opening day of the 2006/07 season when Oli Skulason scored the only goal in the 74th minute.
We completed the double over the Seasiders that season with a 3-1 win at Bloomfield Road in February. We were 3-0 up after half an hour thanks to an early strike from Andy Frampton and two goals in a minute from Jo Kuffour.
Our recent record against them is mixed.
We failed to win of the seven meetings prior to that season but won the seven games before that including a 5-0 hammering at Griffin Park in November 2002.
Blackpool’s players have been asked to fill in a questionnaire in a bid to turn around their away form this season.
The side has only won one of its last 31 away matches and, speaking before Saturday’s trip to Blackburn, manager Lee Clark told the Blackpool Gazette: “From the questionnaire we are going to try to find a solution to our away form.
“Maybe it’s the preparation, the travel, the warm-up, everything. We are prepared to take everything on board to find a solution.
“When you look at our form we have been staying in games.
“It’s crucial now we solve this problem away from home, we have to get a win.
“Three of the next four are away from home so we need to pick up and put points on the board.”
BLACKPOOL SQUAD NEWS
Blackpool had a long list of absentees for Saturday’s game at Blackburn and these may not have eased by the time they visit Griffin Park.
Defender Darren O’Dea and midfielder Andrea Orlandi were sidelined by injury, while defender Nyron Nosworthy was struck down by illness and centre-half Tom Aldred was suspended.
Striker Steven Davies was then taken ill in the dressing-room so was unable to play.
In addition, defender Gary McKenzie is on loan at Bradford City but the Seasiders will not take up their option to recall him.
So far, 46 players have made at least one substitute appearance for Blackpool in the Championship this year – but despite that, there has been a regular core to the side.
Midfielder David Perkins has only missed one of their 32 games, goalkeeper Joe Lewis has played 28 times, defenders Tony McMahon and Peter Clarke have each been involved in 28 games with the odd substitute appearance and striker Nathan Delfouneso, who scored against us in August, has 17 starts and 12 appearances from the bench.
DID YOU KNOW?
Blackpool are the only club in the four English divisions to have been promoted from League Two to the Premier League via the play-offs.
They went up from Division Four (now League Two) to Division Two (now League One) in 1992 by beating Scunthorpe on penalties at Wembley and nine years later, following relegation, won the same promotion by beating Leyton Orient at the Millennium Stadium.
Promotion to the Championship followed with a play-off final victory over Yeovil in 2007 before the big one – elevation to the Premier League – was earned with a 3-2 defeat of Cardiff back at Wembley in 2010.
Pubs in Brentford
For Blackpool fans coming down, you are probably aware there are plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming.
As is etched in common folklore , there are four pubs around the ground. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and The Royal Oak (sometimes home fans only. The only pub with bouncers on the door in Brentford) are the other two options.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) include … The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) – both incredibly friendly and cosy away-frienly pubs .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. Boro fans and Bees fans had one hell of a party before and after the match in these boozers (despite us losing) – and The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).
There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. There are loads more too.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Rd or Windmill Rd.