Neil Critchley: Only 100 per cent will be good enough in six decisive Blackpool games
Promotion-chasing Blackpool’s final six League One games are all against sides with everything to play for ... and boss Neil Critchley is perfectly happy with that.
None of the Seasiders’ six opponents in the final 20 days of the season are playing out matches in mid-table and thinking of their summer break.
Blackpool are yet to face three of the bottom four who are fighting for their survival, including tonight’s hosts Rochdale (7pm), a side buoyed by back-to-back wins and a four-match unbeaten run at home.
Blackpool also meet fellow play-off contenders Doncaster Rovers and a Sunderland side anxious to avenge Saturday’s defeat at Bloomfield Road.
But facing fully fired-up opponents doesn’t concern head coach Critchley, who told The Gazette: “These are exciting games and a challenge to us all because you have to be motivated.
“I think when there’s something on the game you see the best of the players. It heightens the senses and the emotions and you can’t relax. If you are five or 10 per cent off these teams are good enough to beat us.
“So it’s a great time and these are great games to look forward to.”
And they certainly can’t relax against a Dale side Critchley believes should not be in the drop zone.
He added: “They are doing everything they can to get out of there. They have changed their approach, with a different system and a different emphasis on how they play, and they have found a way to get success, which gives them a lot of confidence.
“It’s like with Wimbledon, who drew here recently and looked a good team. They went to the bottom and I was scratching my head and thinking, ‘They are not a bottom team’. They have since proved that and I think Rochdale are the same. They have become tougher to beat and have an attacking threat as well, so credit to their players and manager.”
Should Blackpool avoid defeat tonight, they will match the 17-game unbeaten league run recorded by Stan Mortensen’s Seasiders of the late 1960s. Not that such statistics will be distracting Critchley’s side tonight.
He said: “We don’t talk about records and unbeaten runs, just about the next game and what we need to do to win it.
“Those messages keep us grounded, humble and hungry, and ready for each game.”
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