Armfield: Pool at ‘crucial crossroads’

Jimmy Armfield
Jimmy Armfield
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Seasiders great Jimmy Armfield believes Blackpool FC has reached a “critical crossroads” and called upon both fans and chairman Karl Oyston to back new manager Neil McDonald.

McDonald was appointed on Tuesday – Pool’s sixth manager since the departure of Ian Holloway in November 2012.

And Armfield, who played for Blackpool from 1954 to 1971 and made 43 appearances for England, says McDonald’s first task is to address the slide which has seen Pool relegated twice since their Premier League campaign of 2010-11.

“It’s going to be a very difficult job,” Armfield told The Gazette.

“It has been well publicised what is going on at the football club. The manager will have seen that. He will know about that.

“The first job is going to be to check the slide. The supporters, I think, will not expect too much too early.

“But when a manager comes in, it’s our job to support him.”

And Armfield insists it isn’t only the fans who must give McDonald their backing.

“He needs to be backed by the club,” he added. “What happens next with the club will be down to the decisions that are made now.

“The club is at a critical crossroads.

“What we’ve seen in recent years has been a fall from grace.

“From being a Premier League club, suddenly the club is down in the third tier.”

And Armfield feels that stopping that slide is the way for McDonald to win over his doubters among the Pool faithful.

Many Pool fans are angry at the way the club has been run by chairman Karl Oyston, some even vowing not to support any manager appointed by the current regime.

Armfield knows it won’t be easy for McDonald to find favour with the Bloomfield Road crowd, adding: “The manager has to be able to relate to the fans. That is one of the points you start from.

“At the moment the fans want to see something on the football field. Their feelings come from what has happened on that side, from the way we have dropped.”

Armfield has no doubt how that situation can be improved. “There needs to be some investment in the team,” he said.

“The rest of the club’s finances, I am led to believe, are fine.

“But it’s a football club and it needs investment in the team. That’s the bottom line.”

Armfield, despite his extensive contacts in the game, doesn’t know a great deal about Pool’s new man, but believes his background as a long-standing assistant to former Blackpool boss Sam Allardyce gives him a strong grounding.

“I’m hoping to get to meet him in the next couple of days,” said Armfield.

“He has had a good tenure under Sam Allardyce (at West Ham, Blackburn and Bolton) which will stand him in good stead.

“I believe he lives in the Preston area and that is important. It is essential a manager lives locally. He should be part of the community.”

McDonald hopes to change the mindset of the club and insists he’s done it before.

The new manager told the BFC website: “At West Ham we managed to change the whole ethos of the football club and change the whole mindset, and that takes time.

“Recruiting good players to try to win you games is the biggest thing that we have to do. If we can do that, it gives us a chance.”

McDonald is pleased with the promotion of Pool youth team boss Richie Kyle to the role of first-team coach.

“He’s going to help me out, which is a great help,” added McDonald.

“He knows the club inside out. He knows all the young players coming through and he’s a very good coach.

“I’ve done my little bit of background on him and I’m happy that he wants to work with me.”