NEIL CRITCHLEY ON HIS NEW CHALLENGE AS BLACKPOOL BOSS: ‘I WANT TO BUILD SOMETHING SPECIAL'
The Football League Paper|March 08, 2020
NEIL Critchley knows what he is walking into at Blackpool. And it certainly isn’t Liverpool, the club whose youngsters he has nurtured for the last seven years.
Chris Dunlavy

“I’ve come from one of the biggest clubs in the world, where you don’t lack for anything,” says the 41-year-old, who quit a role as under-23 coach at Anfield to take charge at Bloomfield Road.

“Resources. Facilities. The lot. If you need something, it’s there. Coming here is… well, different.”

Not that the man who helped propel the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Wilson to stardom is fazed by life in the third tier. This, after all, represents a return to his roots.

As a teenage midfielder, Critchley was on the books at Crewe, for whom he made a solitary First Division appearance in the 1999-2000 season.

By then, however, it had become apparent - not least to Critchley himself - that his tactical intelligence and quiet authority were better suited to a life on the sidelines.

So when release from Crewe in the spring of 2000 was sugared by an offer to join Dario Gradi’s coaching staff, the then 20-year-old didn’t hesitate.

“Growing up, I desperately wanted to be a footballer,” he explains. “But at 18 or 19 it started to dawn on me that I might not make it.

“Dario got me involved in the coaching at 17 and, by my early twenties, I’d pretty much decided that was the path I would go down.

“It wasn’t injuries or anything like that. My coaching just took over. Don’t get me wrong - I loved playing. But it just felt right when I coached players.

Comfortable

“I’ve just always found it quite comfortable to lead and instruct. To help others. I was always captain of my youth teams. Even when I left Crewe and went to play in Non-League for Leigh RMI, I was captain of that team at 21.

“And, looking back, I couldn’t have asked for a better start. We had a small staff, so I was doing everything from Under-8s to Under-18s.

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