Neil Critchley on Blackpool's good form, Nottingham Forest and Steve Cooper

Neil Critchley isn’t surprised at all to see Nottingham Forest’s fortunes change under the guidance of their new boss Steve Cooper.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 1:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th October 2021, 1:36 pm

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The Seasiders head to the City Ground this weekend to return to action after their 14-day international break.

Saturday’s opponents have recovered from a nightmare start to the season, which saw Chris Hughton axed after losing six of his first seven games.

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Since then, the Reds have won three of their last four, two of those victories coming since Cooper was appointed.

“They’ve got good players, it’s as simple as that,” Critchley said.

“Their fortunes have changed since they changed their manager. It started with Steven Reid when it was Huddersfield away and he changed the shape.

“Steve Cooper has come in and carried on with the same shape, but he’s obviously tried to put his own mark on the squad of players he’s got. So far, they’ve done extremely well.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

“They’ve had a little break where I’m sure Coops would have been on the training pitch working with those players to get his ideas across.

“They’re in form, they’re winning games, so it’s got the makings of a really good game.

“But I’m sure with them being at home and given the form they’re in, they’ll be expecting to pick up three points. It’s up to us to try and surprise them.”

While Cooper previously coached in Liverpool’s academy, it was just before Critchley arrived on Merseyside in 2013.

Blackpool’s head coach is familiar with the former Swansea City coach, however, having come across him during his time at Crewe Alexandra.

“I’ve known him for quite a number of years,” Critchley said.

“It started when he was at Wrexham and I was at Crewe. We’re of a similar age and have a similar background in terms of our development as coaches.

“He did a fantastic job with the England youth teams and then he took the step up to senior management with Swansea and I thought he did a fantastic job.

“He got them into the play-offs two years running, which was a great feat. He’s already made his mark at Forest and has had a positive impact already.

“It will be good to see him, it will be good to talk to him, but hopefully after the game I’ll be happy and he won’t be.”

Critchley is excited to pit his wits against Cooper at the City Ground, a venue he visited only recently.

“I went there recently when they played Middlesbrough at home, which was unfortunately Chris Hughton’s last game,” he said.

“I was sat there watching the game and there must have been 24,000 fans there, maybe 25,000 for a midweek game.

“You look at the stadium and the supporter base they’ve got, it’s a proper football club so it will be fantastic for us to go to Forest, a great occasion, great surroundings and a great setting.

“I think we’re taking a good following as well, so it’s got the makings of a really good game, so I can’t wait.”

While Forest’s results have picked up in recent weeks, the Seasiders are enjoying some good form of their own.

Prior to the international break, Critchley’s men had won four of their last six games to take them up into the top half of the table.

“We’d be happy with a similar run of results,” Pool’s head coach said.

“I know it’s an old cliché, but you can only look at the next game and our next game is Forest, which we know will be really difficult.

“You look at the next run of six games until the next international break, they’re all tough games.

“But we’ve competed in every game so far this season and we’ve been more than a match for a lot of teams.

“If we can keep that consistency and improve and get better, then I’m confident we can win games in the Championship which we’ve already done so far.”

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