Neil Critchley on first year as Blackpool boss: a chaotic rollercoaster but thoroughly enjoyable

Neil Critchley believes he made the right decision to leave Liverpool and become Blackpool boss a year ago today.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 8:00 am

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It’s been a rollercoaster first 12 months in the job for the 42-year-old, who took the reins at Bloomfield Road on this day in 2020.

Critchley, who had been working as Liverpool’s Under-23s coach, oversaw just two games in his first season before the 2019/20 campaign was cut short following the coronavirus outbreak.

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Neil Critchley making himself at home at Bloomfield Road a year ago

After a slow start to this season, Critchley has turned things around and now has the Seasiders right in the mix for the League One play-offs ahead of tonight’s game with Crewe (7pm).

“It’s crazy, what a year. It’s gone so quickly,” Blackpool’s head coach told The Gazette. “It’s been an absolute rollercoaster, but the moment I joined the club I was very proud and felt privileged to come and coach this fantastic football club.

“With the year I’ve had, the support I’ve been given, the support I get on a daily basis, it makes me feel that I made the right decision and the right step.

“We’re desperate to do well, all of us together as a group. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the year, even though it’s been chaotic and we’ve not had the tangerine army at Bloomfield Road.

“We want the fans back. That would make the feeling of being at this football club even better and I’ve missed that.”

Critchley has adapted well to his first senior role in management, having spent more than a decade working in academy coaching.

The Blackpool boss has played down the notion that the last year has changed him, although he admits he continues to learn on a daily basis.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve changed but I learn all the time,” Critchley said.

“You learn from the people around you. I’d like to think I ask questions and I’m open-minded.

“You’re only as strong as the people around you and I’d like to think I empower the people around me so they feel as though they can challenge me.

“It’s a joint-effort. I just happen to be the person that speaks to you guys in the media and be the figurehead, but I can assure you it’s a collective effort from Simon Sadler (owner) down to Ben Mansford (chief executive) and the people I’ve got around me and my staff.

“It’s been really enjoyable and hopefully we’ve got some good times to look forward to in the next few months.”

Critchley will be looking to mark his one-year anniversary with a victory tonight against his former club.

Dave Artell’s side sit just one point and two positions above the Seasiders in the league table but have played four games more.

Blackpool will be looking to build on their impressive recent form, which has seen them win five of their last six games.

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