Chris Maxwell: Blackpool were too naive at start of season but not any more

Chris Maxwell admits Blackpool’s poor start to the season was a result of over-confidence and a “naive” belief they were going to win the league.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 8:00 am

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The Seasiders lost six of their opening nine League One games and were in the bottom four at one stage.

Speaking on the club’s Preview Show, Maxwell conceded that expectations were probably a little too high ahead of the season opener at Plymouth Argyle, which they lost 1-0.

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Chris Maxwell says training has been transformed under Neil Critchley

“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves for that game,” the goalkeeper said.

“We had just come off the back of a fantastic pre-season, playing against some top opposition in Liverpool and Everton, and we had performed very, very well.

“The expectation we put on ourselves was that we were going to win every game and we were going to win the league.

“I think we were quite naive in thinking that and that game was the start of our poor run.

“But we came through it, and we can look back and realise how far we’ve come from that first game.

“The way we play now is chalk and cheese in comparison to that first game.”

The Seasiders have enjoyed a remarkable turnaround and occupy a play-off spot with 11 games to go.

Team captain Maxwell attributes the club’s success to head coach Neil Critchley and added: “He’s a top guy first and foremost – and it’s not often you can say that about managers!

“He’s very approachable, and I think every single one of the players can honestly say he’s been very honest with everybody about what he expects from us as a group and individually.

“His work ethic is second to none. You can see it on the pitch how well-organised we are, how disciplined we are and how we perform.

“It’s not just by luck or chance – it’s due to hours and hours of endless drills since the start of pre-season. On top of that, he will work behind the scenes and prepare our sessions as well.

“The way he has done things has been completely different to anything I’ve ever experienced.

“I go back to a conversation with Gary Madine in pre-season, when we both said, ‘We’ve been taught how to play football wrong for the whole of our careers’.

“That’s a credit to the manager because we’re so well-disciplined. We know exactly what to do and exactly what everyone’s individual job is.

“Without trying to give secrets away, a manager would generally have his players in on a Monday for a bit of passing and then a five-a-side. That would be the theme of the work. You might do some set-pieces on the Friday ahead of the game.

“But it’s completely different. We don’t do that. Everything we do is based around who we’re playing and how we’re going to play. Each week is different.

“The manager’s experience from his other coaching roles is being passed down to us, which is a pleasure to be a part of and something we’re all really enjoying.”

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