'We're not like Fulham or Bournemouth': Neil Critchley explains what Blackpool must do just to compete in the Championship
Neil Critchley says his Blackpool team have to be “at their best in every aspect” just to be able to compete in the Championship.
The Seasiders have defied outside expectations to stay well clear of the relegation zone in their first season back in the second tier.
Blackpool have rarely, if ever, had to worry about looking over their shoulder and, with only six games remaining, boast an impressive 24-point gap to the bottom three.
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Nevertheless, Critchley knows it’s taken a big effort from his players to compete as well as they have, but he’s still left wanting more.
The Seasiders produced an impressive response at the weekend in the 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers, having been below-par in the derby defeat to Preston North End just five days prior.
Pool were the better side at Ewood Park and created the better chances, but were eventually left to settle for a draw.
When asked if he was a little frustrated not to take all three points, Pool’s head coach said: “Possibly. But I think we could have got something out of the other two games we played this week (Nottingham Forest and Preston North End), but it’s not to be sometimes.
“I’ve said it many, many times, it’s fine lines in this division and it’s so difficult to win a game of football, it’s so hard to get a point.
“We have to be at our best in every aspect of the game to compete and we’re doing that. Now the test for us is to keep doing that and keep improving.”
One of the keys to Blackpool’s success has been their organisation, shape and defensive nous.
The Seasiders have conceded only 47 goals from their 40 games, the same number as Luton Town who sit in fifth.
It made the recent 4-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest all the more surprising given the Seasiders had previously been enjoying an impressive run of clean sheets.
Critchley added: “We had kept three clean sheets before that and then it was a couple of uncharacteristic-type of goals and they had a bit of fortune as well, which can happen. They’ve got quality players too.
“Then Preston in the week, they’ve had one chance and even that has gone through someone’s legs into the bottom corner. It’s a great strike and that’s what decided the game.
“We’ve otherwise been good defensively and we were good defensively against Blackburn, except that one moment and that one kick down the middle of the pitch.
“Other than that, you’d expect Blackburn to create something at home. They’ve got good players and they are where they are for a reason.
“But I don’t really remember Chris Maxwell having a save to make or Blackburn having a clear opportunity. They got in and around the penalty area but maybe the better opportunities fell for us.”