The full financial spectrum of England’s top-flight will be on show this Sunday as big-spending Manchester City travel to Blackpool. It can be billed as anything from David against Goliath, to the princes against the paupers, but as well as reflecting the huge disparities in resources now found in an increasingly polarised Premier League it also goes to show that money is not entirely necessary for success, with Blackpool just four points behind their fellow north-westerners.
However, the figures go to show that the teams are operating in very different financial leagues, even if they share relative parity on the football field. City’s 25-man squad is thought to have cost their Abu Dhabi owners somewhere in the region of a staggering £816m, including contracts, whereas Blackpool’s is likely to be less than two per cent of that figure.
Even with such a massive difference in means at either club’s disposal, City defender Joleon Lescott is under no illusion that the game will be a formality, particularly at what is likely to be a packed Bloomfield Road.
The England centre-back said: “I went to watch them a few times last season and Ian Holloway’s got them playing some good stuff so they are confident and have had some good results and I’m sure they will be coming into it as confident as us.”
But both sides come into the game off the back of wins before the international break, City stumbling to a victory against Newcastle at Eastlands, while Blackpool stunned the footballing world with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield. With the Seasiders being decidedly less fatigued by the break, Lescott feels they will be out for the win.
Speaking after the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier with Montenegro, which ended 0-0, he said: “We’re going to go there obviously trying to score but I feel Blackpool will be a bit more ambitious (than Montenegro) to win the game themselves and hopefully we can counteract that.”
I went to watch them a few times last season and Ian Holloway’s got them playing some good stuff.
Blackpool are yet to win at home this season, picking up just a point so far against Fulham, but arguably they could have claimed four from their two games, conceding late against both the Cottagers and Blackburn Rovers. However their away form is what has been catching the headlines, losing only at Arsenal and Chelsea, with the win at Anfield the latest of three deserved victories.
When asked whether losing this weekend would be a more impressive scalp than Blackpool’s heroics two weeks ago, the former Everton man remained diplomatic: “I don’t know [what would be a bigger shock], I’m not even thinking about losing.”
The huge influx of money and change at Eastlands has not been easy for Lescott to handle. Having been plagued by injuries since joining last season he has only been able accrue 22 league appearances in a side that is not short on competition for places, with Kolo Toure, Vincent Kompany, Micah Richards and Dedryk Boyata all challenging for a starting berth in his favoured central defensive role. With this situation reflected for both club and country, Lescott has had to take the positives from the situation.
“Every player in the squad is under pressure, at club and international level, and we have to find a way to deal with that and obviously the more pressure I’m under at club level it can only help me play for the international team.”
England have been roundly criticised for their performance against a Montenegro side who put in a resolute display at Wembley, with the draw leaving the Three Lions’ EURO 2012 automatic qualification in doubt. Despite the set-back of dropping points at home, Lescott concluded: “We’re still unbeaten and if we win the remaining games we’ll top the group.
“We know that (it won’t be easy to win in Montenegro) anyway, so nothing’s changed on our side, so we are going to go there confident. It depends what the state of the group is when we go there, if they top the group then they’ll probably play the same way and we’ll have to find the creativity to break them down.”