ON THE WAY: From the understudy of Jurgen Klopp in Liverpool to the center … Neil Critchley is on the rise
- Neil Critchley managed his first game on Saturday led by Blackpool
- His side went 0-0 to Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town in his first game as a manager
- The attention of becoming a Blackpool boss is not something that Critchley enjoys
- The Club World Cup allowed Critchley’s public fame in Liverpool
Neil Critchley started coaching at the Academy of Crewe in his teens, but there is a feeling that this moment, which was in charge of his first Football League match, was not in the big plan.
He prefers to work in the background. He is the coach of a coach, someone who would never appear in a suit at Fleetwood.
The attention to becoming a Blackpool manager is not something the 41-year-old enjoys, but that will now diminish after a whirlwind week when the Seasiders made the surprising and progressive deal.
The attention to becoming a Blackpool manager is not something that Neil Critchley enjoys
Critchley’s first game with Blackpool ended in a 0-0 draw at Fleetwood
Although Critchley may have reluctantly viewed the management of the first team – and all the extras these days – some time ago, his journey should galvanize the hundreds of young coaches in and around the country plugging in and waiting for an opportunity level.
Without talking about career, Critchley returned to Crewe after spells in non-League and got up to become an academy manager at Gresty Road before the call from Liverpool academy director Alex Inglethorpe in 2013. The Club World Cup and mid-season allowed Critchley’s turnout to the public when he took over the first team in the absence of Jurgen Klopp for two cup competitions.
Blackpool looked at other coaches under 23 – John Eustace and Simon Rusk from QPR in Brighton – so are not only influenced by his outings as the very temporary No. 1 from Liverpool.
Critchley took the lead in two games from Liverpool’s first team, including the win over Shrewsbury
Klopp has sent support messages since Critchley’s arrival on Bloomfield Road.
“Many players and staff have that too,” Critchley told Sportsmail. “It was really moving. The relationships I had in Liverpool were very special and I hope to be able to create them here.
‘I have broad experiences. Crewe was League Two, One and the Championship, I have seen thousands of games at those levels. And then the taste of what the top level looks like and what it takes to win big trophies. I have a balance of the two and hopefully I can marry them together in Blackpool. “
Although Critchley is his own man and it would be unfair to compare the two coaches, there was one that you wondered if a few Kloppisms would sneak in.
Half an hour before the kickoff, Critchley turned on his heels and turned to the Fleetwood half. Joey Barton’s staff let their players go through pre-match exercises and Critchley stood there for about 90 seconds with a fixed look and gathered all the information that Klopp derives from observing the opposition up close.
Liverpool’s Critchley coach under 23 left Anfield to become Blackpool’s new manager
“A boring, non-eventful draw,” Barton summarized this faux derby and added: “F *** me, we have a chance to win the competition. I’m not saying we’re going to do it, but we have a great opportunity. If we win 10 games, we win the competition. “Fleetwood is eight points behind Coventry leaders who have lost only one of their last 17 games. Barton, who watched from the stands while serving a ban on the transmission line, is doing fantastic.
In the meantime, Critchley will be enthusiastic about what he managed to conjure up from a group of players who made their way this season. The first half was particularly encouraging because they focused on fighting the Fleetwood threat.
Money is now available on the Fylde coast and owner Simon Sadler – himself a supporter flying from Hong Kong to watch matches – will support Critchley next summer.
Fleetwood boss Joey Barton watches from the stands as he serves his ban on the sidelines
A lot of money has been spent since last year’s acquisition, but not all wise. With more coherent thinking, the new manager could have all the tools to take on a challenge in the next term.
“This week has been crazy,” Critchley added. ‘You are always a bit worried, with just a few days of training, how the players understand the message.
‘What we train is who we become. There is a clear plan, a vision for Blackpool. It’s very exciting. That’s why I chose to leave Liverpool. I didn’t have to leave Liverpool, but this was an opportunity that I couldn’t reject. After I spoke with Simon and (chief executive) Ben Mansford, I felt they wanted to create something for the people in the city and I am happy to be part of it. “