Opinion: Absolutely imperative Blackpool identify the right person in search for new head coach

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After last week’s shenanigans, it’s thankfully been a far quieter week at Bloomfield Road.
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Stephen Dobbie's message to Blackpool fans ahead of first home game against Wiga...

After taking the team at Luton with only a day’s worth of preparation, Stephen Dobbie has the luxury of nearly a full week to put his plans in place for Saturday’s bottom-of-the-table clash against Wigan.

To many outsiders, this weekend’s fixture is akin to two bald men fighting over a comb. The result could well be immaterial given both are heading to League One as things stand.

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But if, and it’s a big if given Blackpool’s recent form, Dobbie can oversee a victory and follow it up with a positive result at home to West Brom three days later, you just never know.

I’ve used the phrase ‘last chance saloon’ before but it still applies. If the back-to-back home games don’t yield at least four points, but ideally six, then it’s only a matter of time until relegation is confirmed.

At the moment it’s looking likely that Birmingham City away will be where Blackpool’s impending demotion is sadly confirmed, but we’ll see what transpires over the next week or so.

Big decisions

It's absolutely crucial Blackpool's board gets the next appointment rightIt's absolutely crucial Blackpool's board gets the next appointment right
It's absolutely crucial Blackpool's board gets the next appointment right

Looking further ahead, Blackpool’s board are having to plough on with their search for a permanent head coach.

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Ideally this is something they’ll already be well on with, but last week’s sudden departure of sporting director Chris Badlan – who was responsible for putting a shortlist of names together – won’t have helped matters.

A sense of urgency is required though because the new man needs to be installed soon after the season has finished. We don’t want a repeat of last year where recruitment was essentially put on hold until Michael Appleton’s appointment on June 17.

The new head coach needs to be in situ long before that date so they’re well accustomed to their new surroundings, familiar with the squad of players and can subsequently have a big say in summer recruitment.

Dobbie could put himself in the frame with a strong end to the seasonDobbie could put himself in the frame with a strong end to the season
Dobbie could put himself in the frame with a strong end to the season

While the club can’t be blamed for Neil Critchley’s sudden departure last year, they’ve admitted themselves they were caught on the hop and were immediately playing catch-up. That can’t be allowed to happen again.

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The fact Blackpool have been planning for this since the end of January should surely put them in good stead.

Names in the frame

As it stands, Stephen Dobbie has the job albeit only in a caretaker role. But he certainly didn’t rule out taking on the role full-time.

The potential return of Neil Critchley threatens to split the fanbase againThe potential return of Neil Critchley threatens to split the fanbase again
The potential return of Neil Critchley threatens to split the fanbase again

Despite the result on Monday, Blackpool suffering a third consecutive 3-1 defeat, the performance was much better and it was refreshing to see the Seasiders start the game with a clear structure and game plan, something they’ve not had since Critchley departed.

Whether it’s Dobbie or somebody else, that’s what Blackpool need from the new man at the helm.

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If the inevitable happens and Blackpool do end up in League One, I think the last thing the club needs to do is hire someone just to get them out of the division and back into the Championship. A short-term fix, if you will.

That might sound bizarre on the face of it, but the Seasiders need to make a long-term appointment, someone they plan on keeping around for three or four seasons. I know that rarely happens in football nowadays but that’s got to be the goal.

Yes, the club got burnt the last time they adopted that strategy with Critchley, but look how well it played out prior to his exit.

Pete Wild’s name has been mentioned elsewhere this week and I think that’s an appointment that would fit the bill. He’s done a great job with Barrow this season and Halifax previously and deserves the chance to step up a level.

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The likes of Leam Richardson, Richie Wellens and Charlie Adam have also been linked.

Eric Ramsay, a young up-and-coming coach at Manchester United who was reportedly sounded out by Blackpool earlier in the season, is another name that could be in the mix. But by all accounts Erik ten Hag is a big fan and wants to keep him around within his coaching staff, so that could be a tricky one.

Looking elsewhere, Brian Barry-Murphy is a coach I like. He did a good job at Rochdale in difficult circumstances but now works within the academy at Manchester City. He plays football the right way and would certainly fit the long-term blueprint I previously mentioned.

Dave Challinor also deserves recognition for the job he’s doing at Stockport, having also enjoyed success with AFC Fylde and Hartlepool. His name has been floated around in the past but I’m not sure if there was ever any concrete interest, but again I wouldn’t be against it. He’s a top man too.

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I’d love for Danny Cowley to be in the frame, but I’m not sure if that’s a realistic one at this moment in time.

Never go back?

Then we come back to the familiar names, Critchley being one. That would be a risk given the previous managers to come back in recent years, namely Simon Grayson and Michael Appleton, haven’t exactly worked out.

These are different circumstances of course, but given there’s a need for unity at this moment in time I’m not sure that would be the best idea with the fanbase so split.

There’s also Ian Evatt, whose name is inevitably thrown into the hat whenever the Blackpool vacancy comes up. But why would he leave Bolton? He’s onto a good thing and he could well be in the Championship next season if the Trotters end the season well.

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If I’m being brutally honest, I’m getting a bit tired and fed up with all these suggestions of former players and managers. There’s a big, wide world out there, it doesn’t have to be someone who has previous connections.

It just needs to be the right person for the job, plain and simple.