Blackpool head coach is an inspiration to one Seasiders old boy

Blackpool favourite Keith Southern believes Seasiders boss Neil Critchley has given inspiration to academy coaches like himself that it is possible to break into the senior game.

By Matt Scrafton
Saturday, 17th July 2021, 8:00 am

Southern is currently employed as an academy coach at Everton, where he has previously worked with former Blackpool loanee Ellis Simms.

Bringing in a coach who has only ever previously worked with youngsters would be considered too big a risk among many club owners.

However, in Critchley’s case, it’s proved to be an inspired appointment.

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Neil Critchley's success with Blackpool has given heart to Everton academy coach Keith Southern

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“I’ve been watching on from afar,” Southern told The Gazette.

“Obviously I’ve not watched any of the games in person but since Christmas, you see the wins racking up and it’s three defeats in 25, so they were the form team going into the play-offs.

“I’ve been really, really impressed with Neil Critchley Coming from a development background, which I’m in currently, I’m delighted he’s making a success of the role.

“We’ve also got the link there with Ellis and he’s performed so well, so I’ve had a keen eye through my own links but also with Critchley and Ellis, especially towards the end of the season.

“I’m really delighted. He’s got a really good group of staff, a really good group of players and they seem to have real momentum.”

Southern added: “The history of our game, chairmen and owners have often sided with the tried and tested if you like: the same old faces on the merry-go-round of management that keep appearing.

“To get a fresh face, somebody who has a bit of creativity and likes to be innovative from a youth background, has been inspiring really for everyone involved in academy football.

“He’s making a real success of it and hopefully that will open the door for us coaches further down the line.

“He obviously knows the game. He’s had a really good grounding at Crewe going back a few years with Steve Holland, who is now assistant to Gareth Southgate with England.

“He had a great grounding at Liverpool too, working under various managers and at different levels, and then in recent times, he had a close link with Jurgen Klopp.

“He obviously knows football, he knows what he’s doing and he’s transferred a little bit of that – in terms of style of play – into what Blackpool are doing currently.

“I really enjoyed the two play-off semi-final games. I watched with a keen eye about how they set up in and out of possession and I think they were outstanding.”

Elsewhere, Blackpool have confirmed a change of opponent for today’s latest pre-season outing ahead of the new campaign.

The Seasiders, who were due to play Newport County AFC, meet Accrington Stanley behind closed doors.

The club has also announced that the Blackpool XI fixture against Bamber Bridge, scheduled to be played on July 30, has been cancelled.

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