Blackpool head coach highlights some key incidents during the season

Neil Critchley has picked out three key moments that he feels were instrumental in the turnaround of Blackpool’s season.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 12:30 pm

The Seasiders take on Lincoln City in Sunday’s League One play-off final, having finished the season in third place before overcoming Oxford United in the two-legged semi-finals.

It’s been some revival for Critchley and his players, who began the season disastrously with six defeats in their opening nine games.

During that run, performances remained largely positive but things seemingly conspired against them in terms of bad luck and refereeing decisions.

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Blackpool's early season defeat to Ipswich Town was highlighted by Neil Critchley
Blackpool's early season defeat to Ipswich Town was highlighted by Neil Critchley

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When asked if there’s been a key moment during the season that sticks out in his mind, Critchley said: “There were a couple of occasions, I wouldn’t say there was just one moment.

“Moments that stick in my head were Ipswich at home, when we were 3-0 down at half-time, and I thought we were excellent in the second half of that game.

“The players had a real go and got it back to 3-1. It could have easily got it back to 3-2 but we ended up losing 4-1.

“At 3-0 down after the start to the season we’d had, with things conspiring against us, the togetherness they showed and the spirit they showed, they really stuck together and played for each other.

“That was evident in that period, because when we lost 1-0 to Wimbledon with nine men, we could have got something out of that game.

“Charlton, we went down to 10 after a minute into the game, but we took it right until the 83rd minute when they scored.

“It wasn’t just one moment, there were quite a few periods of games where it gave me belief that, if we stayed together and continued how we were working, then eventually the results would change in our favour.”

Despite languishing just above the drop zone after their poor start, Critchley always remained calm and level-headed.

Nevertheless, he admitted that it might not have always been the case behind closed doors.

“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t doubts,” Pool’s head coach said.

“We always question ourselves, I always question myself. I question the team, the decisions, the formation, so there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of – I wouldn’t call it fear – but some doubts and uncertainty, because that’s what helps you to prepare properly.

“That keeps your senses heightened all the time, because you’re on the front foot in terms of what you’re doing every day.

“Sometimes I have to look beyond the results, which can be difficult in a results-driven business, but I was very confident that if we continued the level of performance and how we were playing, with some stats and data as well to back up our performances, then eventually the results would change.

“The key during that time was to stay calm, stay consistent and make sure the players stayed calm and believed in what we were doing.

“Fortunately, because I’ve got a good group of men in the dressing room, that’s what happened.”

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