England coach set for Pool

Blake - Blackpool-bound?
Blake - Blackpool-bound?
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Highly-regarded coach Noel Blake is poised to join the Jose Riga revolution at Blackpool.

The Gazette understands the new manager is close to confirming his senior coaching team, featuring fellow Belgian Bart de Roover and former England U19 coach Blake.

Blake, 52, has been lined up for the role of first-team coach as Riga shapes his backroom team in the race against time to prepare properly for the season.

After a week of silence at Bloomfield Road resulted in national newspaper speculation that Riga was on the brink of quitting, the club hopes to confirm the coaching team, with former Royal Antwerp boss De Roover as assistant manager.

An extremely strong, committed defender in his playing days, Blake made a successful switch to coaching and has spent the past seven years with the FA.

He led England U19 to the European Championship semi-finals in both 2010 and 2012 before stepping down suddenly last month.

He also served as an assistant coach with England U16 and has taken charge of the national U18 and U20 teams too, besides taking a prominent role in coach education and development with the FA.

He previously worked as academy manager at Stoke City, where he had also played.

In a playing career which spanned two decades, Blake had spells with both Aston Villa and Birmingham, as well as Portsmouth (under Blackpool World Cup winner Alan Ball), Bradford City and Exeter, where he was briefly manager.

On leaving the FA, Blake remarked: “It has been a real honour for me to coach the England U18, 19 and 20 teams.

“The international tournament experience I have gained is invaluable.”

Blake would arrive at Bloomfield Road at a time of flux and extreme uncertainty, with the playing staff wafer-thin.

De Roover has always been Riga’s first choice as no.2 and he held talks at Bloomfield Road last week.

Riga stated that he wanted his support team in place before embarking on a player recruitment drive, and supporters will hope that a raft of signings quickly follows.