Blackpool head coach pays tribute to Shrewsbury Town's players and staff
Blackpool boss Neil Critchley believes it shouldn’t be underestimated how difficult it’s been for today’s opponents, Shrewsbury Town, to cope without their manager Steve Cotterill.
The Shrews’ boss remains sidelined through severe ill health, having contracted coronavirus at the start of January.
Cotterill spent almost two months in Bristol Royal Infirmary, including a weekend in intensive care while he was battling Covid-19 and pneumonia.
He has been recovering from home for a number of weeks now and remains an influential figure in leading his team from afar.
Shrewsbury, who beat Pool 1-0 earlier in the season, currently sit in 18th on 50 points, seven points clear of safety despite losing their last three games.
Critchley said: “I can only imagine what that situation must be like for everyone. First and foremost, for Steve and his health.
“It was only just after Christmas when we played them that the coronavirus struck their club and Steve, unfortunately, has been a victim of that.
“I think he came back for a short spell and had to disappear again.
“When you read those types of things, it’s not very nice and you fear for people.
“I’ve read recently that he’s at home and he’s playing a part in team talks etc, so that makes you feel a bit better that he’s hopefully in better health than he was.
“First and foremost, we pass on our best wishes to Steve and we genuinely hope he gets through this tough period.
“It must have been difficult for him on a personal level and the players and staff, who had just begun working with a new manager and they were doing so well.
“To have his experience and leadership taken away from the group, it must have been extremely difficult for them.
“Under the circumstances, I think they’ve done extremely well.”
Blackpool will be looking to bounce back after their 16-game unbeaten run was ended by Rochdale on Tuesday night.
The Seasiders were out of sorts at Spotland but Critchley insists he remains satisfied with his side’s display.
“The result wasn’t what we wanted but I can assure you, the performance was there,” he said.
“Other than the first 15 to 20 minutes of the game, where we started a bit sluggishly, other than that we played some really good football.
“Having watched the game back, some of our approach play, some of the things we had worked on and talked about in training, the players tried to do that 100 per cent.
“The only bit that was missing was the bit in the final third of the pitch, where our quality let us down.
“We got into some really good areas, we had prepared some attacking situations really well but, for various reasons, we didn’t convert that into meaningful chances.
“I can assure you, the football, we dominated possession, we pressed well, we counter-pressed well, the intensity was there.
“I was asked about fatigue and tiredness after the game but that wasn’t an issue. I’ve looked at all the data after the game, that wasn’t a problem.
“The problem we had was two things. One, they’re allowed to defend their goal and do very well at it, because you have to beat 11 players and that’s what Rochdale did. They put everyone behind the ball and that’s what they’ve done in their previous games.
“They’ve become harder to beat. When they’re 1-0 up, it becomes even harder because they’re fighting for their lives and desperately want those three points knowing it’s such an important victory.
“That was the only part of the performance I was disappointed with.”
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