Positive first impressions of Blackpool squad leaves new head coach Neil Critchley optimistic for the future

Neil Critchley says his early impressions of the Blackpool squad he’s inherited have been nothing but positive.

By Matt Scrafton
Monday, 9th March 2020, 8:54 am
Updated Monday, 9th March 2020, 9:02 am

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The former Liverpool Under-23 coach took charge of his first game on Saturday as the Seasiders played out a goalless draw with Fylde coast rivals Fleetwood Town.

Pool delivered a strong display, especially in the first half, but were eventually forced to settle for a point after Fleetwood delivered a strong showing in the second period.

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Neil Critchley

But there were plenty of promising signs for the future and, speaking afterwards, Critchley was full of praise for his new charges.

“I’ve been really impressed with them,” he said.

“I think the work that’s been done prior to me coming in with David Dunn, Tommy Johnson and Steve Banks was really evident in the game.

“There’s a real spirit and togetherness amongst the players.

“Their response to the training and what we’ve done this week has been first class and we’ll get better at keeping the ball, that’s something that will develop over time.

“I’ve just said to the players that I’m very optimistic for the future with that group of players.”

With the Seasiders now 15 points off the play-offs with just 10 games remaining, there is very little to play for between now and the end of the season.

When asked what his goals are for his new team for the remainder of the campaign, Critchley said: “To keep improving the identity of the team.

“There were moments in the second half against Fleetwood where we became a little bit disjointed.

“But it’s going to take time for us to become the team I want us to become, so we’ll keep working on that every day. That’s the process we’ll follow.

“If we do that, I’m confident we can turn the training performances into match-winning performances which, as we all know, is the most important thing.”

Critchley takes charge of his first game at Bloomfield Road tomorrow night when the Seasiders take on League One strugglers Tranmere Rovers.

Micky Mellon’s side remain in the bottom three and six points adrift of safety despite claiming a much-needed win against Accrington Stanley on Saturday.

For Critchley, it’s another chance to show the supporters to show what his side are capable of doing.

“I’m really excited to get in front of our home supporters,” he said.

“We had fantastic support at Fleetwood, they got right behind the team and I don’t think they shut up for the whole 90 minutes - it was brilliant.

“They supported me and the players extremely well and I can’t wait to hopefully give them a really good performance on Tuesday night.

“It will be a tough game because Tranmere are fighting for their lives, so we know we’re going to have to be ready, focused and at it to go again.”