BARRY Ferguson is poised to be appointed manager of Blackpool until the end of the season following the much-anticipated dismissal of Paul Ince.
Former Rangers and Scotland captain Ferguson has been placed in temporary charge of the Bloomfield Road club by chairman Karl Oyston, who yesterday sacked Ince and his assistants Alex Rae and Steve Thompson.
Ferguson, who has undertaken coaching courses over the last couple of close seasons, has made no secret of his ambition to move into management as his playing career winds down. He will celebrate his 36th birthday in 11 days’ time and it is not yet clear whether he will also continue as a player at Blackpool for the rest of this season. It is understood the manager’s job at the club will be Ferguson’s on a permanent basis if he succeeds in turning their slipping fortunes around.
Blackpool have lost eight of their last nine games to slip to 14th place in the English Championship table following a promising start to the season. Combined with an FA Cup third round exit at Bolton, the dismal run prompted Oyston’s decision to dispense with Ince’s services after just 11 months in the job.
Ferguson, who joined Blackpool in July 2011 from Birmingham City in a £750,000 move, has been the club captain in recent months as they have suffered their dramatic decline on the pitch. Speaking shortly before Blackpool announced the termination of Ince’s contract, Ferguson had admitted it was the worst sequence of results in his career. But although Blackpool are just eight points above the relegation zone, he insisted their target is still to make it into the promotion play-offs from which they are eight points off the pace.
“I’ve never been involved in a run like this before, but it happens in football and we won’t be the first team to go through it,” said Ferguson. “We’ve got a lot of good characters in the squad. I’m more than positive we can pull through this and make a push for the play-offs again. I know people will say ‘Are you crazy?’ or whatever, but that’s the way you have to believe. I believe when we’ve got everybody fit, and with a few new additions to the team, we are a good footballing team.
“It’s just a difficult period but one thing I can assure people is that everyone’s behind each other, all we need is a wee break of the ball. I’m sure that will come sooner rather than later. All we can do is work as hard as possible on the training field. I’ve not seen heads going down in the dressing room. We are all disappointed but all the boys care and that’s a big thing.”
For Ince, his departure from Blackpool is the latest setback in what has been a chequered managerial career. After starting out at Macclesfield, he moved to MK Dons where he led the club to the League Two title in 2008. It earned him a switch to Blackburn Rovers where he became the Premier League’s first black manager. But after just six months in charge, with only six wins in 21 games, he was sacked by the Ewood Park club.
Although he kept Blackpool’s Championship status following his appointment in February last year, he became an increasingly unpopular figure. Following last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Barnsley, a meeting of the Blackpool Supporters Association issued a vote of no confidence in Ince.