John Fleck and Blackpool, a match made in heaven

Written by Mark McDougall.

When John Fleck burst onto the scene as a 15 year old in Rangers pre-season tour of Germany almost five years ago, few predicted his career would take so long to take off. Currently, he is in final discussions with Blackpool. Mark McDougall makes his debut in The Away End and says there is no doubt in his mind he will be a big success at the Seasiders.
Fleck is following the path of Charlie Adam, who made the same loan move from Rangers to Blackpool, and went on to captain the club before commanding a place at one of England's biggest clubs, Liverpool. 

Fleck will have familiar faces that will help him settle in at Blackpool, as he will be part of a  side that also includes his former teammate Barry Ferguson who joined Blackpool for Birmingham in the summer, and centre back Danny Wilson who is on loan at Blackpool from Liverpool having left Rangers 18 months ago.
Fleck has a left foot that matches that of Charlie Adam, and has an array of passing that has excited Rangers fans since he broke into the side, even though he has not had quite the chance the fans had hoped for. His style of play is compared to his former Ibrox team mate Pedro Mendes - although he plays a more attacking role than Mendes, and is regarded as a more of a goalscoring threat than his former teammate. He calmly takes the ball under control and looks for the correct pass. While not always fancy, his passes are always important and when he plays in his correct position he is a threat to any team.

Fleck burst onto the spotlight with an impressive hat-trick in the Scottish Youth Cup final win against Old Firm rivals Celtic. He was widely acclaimed and earned the tag of "the new Wayne Rooney" from the media, and from his teammate Steven Whittaker. This has lead to a downturn in form due to the expectations placed on the young mans shoulders.

John Fleck will be a star down in England - his ability is unquestionable - but is his attitude right? We had the incident were he had a bust-up with his current manager Ally McCoist while at training, but his attitude took a definite upturn from then on in. In the summer of 2010 Fleck revealed he had been at Murray Park working hard throughout the summer break in an attempt to cement a place in the first team, although his hopes were dashed when a hamstring injury picked up in Australia ruled him out for the early part of the season.

Many Rangers fans have expressed their disappointment in Ally McCoist's decision to allow the 20 year old to go out on loan, with one fan telling me: "It was the right move, at the wrong time. Given the number of injuries, Fleck should be ready to replace any Striker or Midfielder we lose".

RangersTV commentator Tom Miller also shared his views with me, saying: "It's no surprise that Blackpool have taken him on loan. His best performance came in pre-season against the Seasiders when playing in front of the back four.

"He needs game time and while he has yet to confirm his genuine position, he was always going to have to go out on loan to develop and a run in the side was not going to happen at Rangers. Is he a midfielder, striker or a bit of both? He weights a beautiful pass and is adept in any of these roles.

"He now needs to focus on a specific position in a team shape and learn the game. He also needs to strengthen aspects of his game, mainly defensively which is a weak point for him."

Rangers fans are hoping that Fleck can come back after six months down south and claim a starting role for the club, and that he doesn't end up following in the footsteps of Charlie Adam.

Fleck's move down south will be watched closely by many fans, who will hope to see him turn it on down south, before making his way back up to Ibrox, and becoming the player he was once tipped to be. Remember, John Fleck is only twenty years old, he has his whole career ahead of him. Blackpool will help Fleck flourish with their unique brand of football which made them a breath of fresh air to the Premiership last season under Ian Holloway, and Fleck will also be helped with the experience of Rangers legend Barry Ferguson at his side.
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