Defender reflects on remarkable turnaround since 3-1 win at Bloomfield Road at the back end of the 2014-15 Sky Bet Championship campaign.
- “We had to take a step back to move forwards,” says Pearce.
- Defender and vice-captain praises travelling support with over 3,000 set to travel to the Seaside for Latics’ final away fixture of a memorable season.
- Praise for captain and good friend Craig Morgan.
Pearce acknowledges three points are far from a given against Neil McDonald’s side, who must secure a win from the game to stand any chance of securing their own fate on the last day of the season.
But the former Leeds United man admits his excitement at the potential of winning the title in front of what he describe as an “amazing” travelling support.
“The support there last season at Blackpool was unbelievable but there are even more fans going this time around and it would be amazing to win the title there,” Pearce explained. “I am sure our fans will make it feel like a home game.
“I can’t wait for Saturday; our travelling support this season has been amazing, wherever we have gone the fans have backed us in massive numbers.
“It’s not going to be easy; Blackpool are fighting to stay in the league and will probably feel they need to win the game if they’re going to stand a chance of staying up.”
Last season, Pearce featured in a 3-1 win at Bloomfield Road as goals from Kim Bo-Kyung, Harry Maguire and James McClean gave us late-season survival hope.
Ultimately it wasn’t enough and Pearce said at the time that the chance to freshen the club up and take a step backwards to move forwards was the best way to look at relegation. And he now feels the process of returning to the top level is underway.
“It was a great win there at the back end of last season, unfortunately it meant nothing come the end of the season, though,” he added.
“I remember at the back end of last season saying that the best way to look at it for us was that we needed to take a step backwards to go forwards and that is hopefully what we’re beginning to see now.
“I have been fortunate to be a part of it after such a huge turnaround of players and we have had a real good go this season and we go to Blackpool to hopefully win the title.”
One stand-out feature of last season’s game on the seaside was the awkward pitch at Bloomfield Road, and Pearce says Latics will have to show their ability to adapt once more if they are to get a successful result.
“Of course the pitch there has come under scrutiny in recent years but we have to adapt,” Pearce continued.
“Yes, we have a style the gaffer wants us to play and we want to play, but we have to adapt to tough conditions and I think we have shown an ability to do that over the course of this season.”
Former Latics defender and club legend Emmerson Boyce played in blue and white in the last Bloomfield Road meeting between the pair. Now he is in Blackpool’s ranks, though, and Pearce admits any previous friendships are put to one side in such an important fixture.
“It happens in football, the longer you’re in the game the more people you play with the more times you’re likely to come up against an opponent,” he said.
“The friendships go to one side, though, and if you need to fight to win and make strong tackles then you do and then you shake hands at the end of the game and move on.”
Latics’ current captain Craig Morgan was named in both the PFA Sky Bet League One Team of the Year and the Football Manager Football League Team of the Year and Pearce was full of praise for his good friend who he has struck up an efficient partnership with in the centre of defence.
“Morgs has been great,” Pearce said. “We have hit it off as friends off the pitch and have a good partnership on the pitch too.
“We have the same values performance-wise, we’re both leaders and, although he is not a big shouter in the dressing room or on the pitch, he leads by example with the way he trains and his performances on the pitch.”