Championship clubs showing Blackpool respect by changing tactics says Neil Critchley

Rival Championship sides are changing their style to visit Blackpool, which head coach Neil Critchley views as a sign of respect towards his second-tier newcomers.

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 8:00 am

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Critchley’s Seasiders welcome Queens Park Rangers to Bloomfield Road for today’s televised teatime clash just three days after Stoke City’s 1-0 win on the Fylde coast halted Blackpool’s three-game winning run.

And head coach Critchley can’t be sure what to expect from QPR, with so many visiting sides confounding his expectations this season.

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Neil Critchley says visiting clubs have been changing their systems at Bloomfield Road

“Teams are approaching games here differently,” he said. “Cardiff we expected to play a certain way in the first home game and they didn’t, and Coventry slightly changed their system and Blackburn played three in midfield.

“We’d done a lot of research into Stoke and they definitely changed. That shows respect for us but we have to be ready for the ‘what ifs’.

“Teams are entitled to come up with a plan to try to stop us and then we have to counter that and find a solution, which we didn’t do on Wednesday.

“That doesn’t mean it’s any harder at home. Every game is hard and we enjoy playing in front of our supporters here, where we have a great atmosphere and we’ve had two good wins recently against Blackburn and Preston.”

Blackpool are five places below QPR but only one point behind, showing just how little there is between sides at this level. Indeed, Blackpool have taken four points from two games against leading pair Bournemouth and Fulham.

Critchley added: “I’d put Bournemouth, Fulham and West Brom up there and I still think Sheffield United too by the end of the season. But you also look at Stoke and QPR, who are really good sides.

“You have to work so hard in this division and the margins are so fine. In the past week, one game has gone with us and the other against us.”

Critchley hopes his side have the edge in today’s 5.30 kick-off but will be without Luke Garbutt, who suffered a knee injury in midweek.

Critchley said: “It will need a scan to determine the severity of it but he won’t be available for Saturday.”

Blackpool will also assess defenders Richard Keogh and Dujon Sterling. An Achilles strain saw Keogh replaced by Garbutt early in Wednesday’s match but Critchley does not think the problem is serious.

Sterling missed that match with a quad injury but the Chelsea loanee could be in contention if he came through training yesterday.

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