Demetri Mitchell was absolutely flying in pre-season. He was by far and away Blackpool’s standout performer during their friendlies and looked set to play a leading role for Neil Crithcley’s men in the Championship this season.
His impressive summer displays, which included goals against Southport, Carlisle United and Accrington Stanley, also came off the back of a strong end to last season.
While Mitchell wasn’t a regular starter during the run-in, he still made a major impact when he came off the bench - which was during most games.
The 25-year-old did start in the victorious play-off final though, a fact that is often overlooked.
Fast forward six months from the aforementioned pre-season campaign, Mitchell found himself backup at best and was allowed to make a January move to Scottish side Hibs.
How quickly things can change.
The turning point for Mitchell was the cruel knee injury he suffered in Blackpool’s penultimate friendly of the summer at Morecambe, a setback that kept him out until the end of September.
Timing can be everything.
By that point, Josh Bowler had already established himself as a rising star in the second tier, while the likes of Keshi Anderson and Owen Dale were now ahead of him in the pecking order.
When he did get onto the pitch, it must be conceded Mitchell’s displays were mixed. But in his defence, he’s hardly been given a consistent run of games to get back up to speed.
That’s not a criticism of Critchley at all, by the way. That’s just the harsh reality of football at the highest level where, if you don’t take your opportunities however fleeting they may be, you won’t find yourself sticking around for too long.
But the former Manchester United man has only made 14 appearances in all competitions this season, with only six of them coming from the start.
As a result, the prospect of regular game time couldn't be guaranteed, so a move north of the border perhaps suits all parties involved. It’s just a shame it all unravelled so quickly for Mitchell, because at his best he was a really dangerous player.
Perhaps his costly error in the recent defeat to Middlesbrough didn’t help his case, but we all make mistakes.
To me, this move strikes me as a way of guaranteeing Mitchell more game time, while affording Blackpool the chance to bring in a superior replacement in the final days of the transfer window. At least, let’s hope that’s the plan.
Initially brought to the club as a left-back in League One, it soon became clear Mitchell had excellent attacking instincts and a willingness to drive forward at opposition full-backs, but wasn’t suited to going the other way. Defending really wasn’t his forte.
Critchley, as he so often does, adapted and turned Mitchell into an introverted right winger, where he was given the license to cut inside from the flank and wreak havoc.
This is where he had his shortcomings though, especially in the Championship where the step-up in quality was noticeable.
Too often Mitchell’s decision-making let him down in the final third, resulting in him picking the wrong pass or opting to shoot when he should slip a teammate in or vice versa.
His end product wasn’t quite up to scratch, either. One goal in 53 appearances is testament to that.
I also lost count of the number of times he cut in from the right to unleash a swerving long-range effort that initially promised so much, only to soar into Row Z.
But, like so many of Blackpool’s recent signings, he was a player with huge potential, some of it potentially untapped. You don’t spend seven years at Old Trafford as a youngster if you don’t have something about you.
But sometimes these moves just don’t work out. That’s fine, that’s life. Perhaps Hibs will get the best out of him.
A promotion winner that always gave his best for the cause, Mitchell should depart Bloomfield Road with all of our best wishes.
He’s managed to bag himself a great move to a Hibs side that currently sit in fifth place in the SPL, so I’m sure he’ll do just fine.
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