Neil Critchley takes pride in his Blackpool players' competitive spirit

Neil Critchley says Blackpool’s ability to be competitive in all but one of their 46 games in the Championship this season is his biggest source of pride.

By Matt Scrafton
Monday, 30th May 2022, 6:00 am

The Seasiders enjoyed a fine season back in the second tier following their promotion via the League One play-offs, finishing 16th.

While they did suffer a handful of hefty defeats, losing by a three-goal margin to the likes of Luton Town and Nottingham Forest, they competed well in both games and were unfortunate to lose so heavily.

That wasn’t the case on the final day, when the Seasiders were thrashed 5-0 by Peterborough United.

Neil Critchley saw his Blackpool players perform creditably in their first season back in the Championship

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Despite ending the campaign on a sour note, Critchley is still delighted with how the season has gone.

“It’s been great, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” he told the club’s end-of-season review show.

“It seems to have gone by so quickly, it doesn’t seem five seconds ago since we were starting at Bristol City in the first game of the season.

“It’s gone by in such a flash, but I’ve really enjoyed it and I think we can be quite pleased with our first season back in the Championship.

“We’ve made great strides, we’ve improved as a group but, as ever, we want more and as soon as we have a little rest and recharge, we will be ready to go again for another testing challenge next season.”

When asked about the difference from League One, Critchley said: “There’s a sustained intensity in this division that demands so much from you physically and psychologically.

“Levels of concentration get tested all the time because you’re playing against quicker players, better players on the ball, the set-pieces are better, so it puts a greater demand on you mentally. That also takes a lot out of you physically.

“The preparation for games – and how we recover between games – is really crucial because we’re not a team who can be two per cent off our game, we have to be there every game.

“That’s one of the proudest things I take from this group, that they’re there in every game – bar one. We were there for 45 games of the season.

“What that takes is such a big effort and we’ve got a group of players on the pitch and during the week who give everything.”