McDonald’s mission to rebuild Pool

Neil McDonald
Neil McDonald
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Neil McDonald has already begun the task of rebuilding Blackpool from the ground up, having become the Seasiders’ sixth manager in two and a half years.

The 49-year-old, who has signed the usual one-year rolling contract, faces a huge task after taking the reins from fellow Geordie Lee Clark, who quit last month after Pool finished rock-bottom of the Championship.

McDonald, who has spent the past four years as assistant manager to Sam Allardyce at West Ham, finds himself in a near identical position to that inherited by Jose Riga when he became Pool boss exactly a year ago today – with only a small number of mainly inexperienced professionals on the club’s books.

Continuity will be provided by Richie Kyle, who is promoted to first-team coach following his success running the youth team.

Former Everton and Oldham defender McDonald believes he can turn Pool around as he looks to build a squad to challenge for promotion from League One.

The new Pool boss said: “I’ve already spoken to a few players to see if they fancy coming to join me in this new adventure.

“We’ve got the history of the football club but we’ve got to write our own chapter.

“We’ve got to try to recruit as many players as we can in the right positions to try to create that dynamic to win games.

“And then we’ve got to push on as much as we can towards the top of the table.”

McDonald had previously worked alongside Allardyce at Bolton and Blackburn, where he was briefly in caretaker charge while the manager underwent heart surgery.

He has also served as number two to Iain Dowie at Crystal Palace and was head coach at Leeds under Gary McAllister.

McDonald’s only previous experience as a manager in England was at Carlisle in 2006-7, when they finished eighth in League One, though he was briefly in charge of Swedish club Ostersunds.

Having been linked with a return to Brunton Park last year, McDonald made it clear he’d been waiting for the right club to return to management.

“I’m excited very much to be a number one,” he said. “I’ve waited my turn for the right place to come up.

“This is a great opportunity for me. It’s a massive football club in my opinion. I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s going to be difficult but wherever you go it’s difficult. It’s my job now and it’s one I’m really excited about.”

One of the most difficult tasks facing McDonald may be to win over the Pool supporters, many of whom are in open revolt against the Oyston regime.

Chairman Karl Oyston, who is due in Portugal today for a Football League meeting, is facing FA action over abusive text messages to a fan, while the club awaits the outcome of FA, Football League and Police investigations into the abandonment of the final match of last season against Huddersfield following a pitch invasion.

But none of that has dampened McDonald’s enthusiasm for the club.

He added: “It feels absolutely brilliant. I’ve been and had a look around the place and I’ve been down to the training ground.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people and they’ve wished me all the best.

“It’s going to be hard work, yes, but it’s great to be here. Now I want to put my stamp on the football club and get it back to where it was.”

The first job facing McDonald is to arrest the slide which has taken Pool from the promised land of the Premier League to the third tier of English football in just four years.

He added: “We’ve got to stabilise it first of all, after what happened last year, after relegation.

“We’ve got to change people’s minds, get that confidence back and try to move the club on to pastures new.”

There are vacancies on his coaching staff after Paul Stephenson and Paul Crichton left the club.