As of today, Neil Critchley is the new manager of League One side Blackpool, leaving his role as Liverpool’s U23 manager to join the comfortably mid-table lower league side as they already begin to look ahead to next season and promotion dreams.
“I am absolutely delighted to join Blackpool,” said Critchley following the announcement. “The trust and faith shown in me gives me a very special feeling inside. I can’t wait to get started, I’m really looking forward to the weeks and months ahead.”
Critchley received more attention than most previous U23 and reserve coaches this season as he was put in charge of the first team twice—at least on paper—in the League Cup against Aston Villa and then FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury Town.
In the first game, where he was forced to take charge with Liverpool’s first team in Qatar at the Club World Cup, his charges acquitted themselves well in an unfairly heavy loss. In the second, a game that fell during the winter break, his youth team won.
“The time I’ve had at Liverpool has been truly special,” he said of those experiences. “I’ve been incredibly well supported. It’s a truly special football club It would have had to have taken something equally as special for me to even think about leaving.”
Now the manager of Blackpool, Critchley further stated that he was won over by his new club’s owners and was convinced by their commitment and vision as to “how they want [the club] to grow” over the offseason and with an eye towards promotion.
For Blackpool now, though, the current season seems fairly decided. Having played 33 of 44 games, they are 18 points from relegation on one side and 13 points back of the final playoff spot, making a mid-table finish all but certain.