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Key Blackpool figure issues fresh details on Neil Critchley’s surprise Aston Villa move

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Blackpool fans were delivered a major shock on Thursday evening when it was revealed that head coach Neil Critchley had jumped ship to become Steven Gerrard’s assistant at Aston Villa.

Just 24 hours after Michael Beale moved from Villa Park to take the vacant Queens Park Rangers head coach role, Critchley was announced as his replacement – and it was news that prompted a flabbergasted reaction from the Seasiders fanbase.

Having guided the Tangerines to promotion back to the Championship in his first full season as a senior manager in 2020-21, Critchley consolidated Blackpool’s place in the second tier by finishing 16th in 2021-22 and he signed a new long-term contract back in November.

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Critchley ditched his leading role though for a job as a right-hand man to Gerrard, who he worked with at Liverpool when he was managed of the under-23’s at Anfield.

According to a report from Alan Nixon’s Patreon this weekend, Critchley was a contender for the Blackburn Rovers vacancy as well, which has made it appear that the 43-year-old perhaps was looking for a way out at Bloomfield Road.

Speaking out on the situation, Blackpool CEO Ben Mansford has issued fresh details on how the move came about and how much of a surprise it was to all at the club.

“It’s been a very disappointing situation, everyone knows how well Neil has done since he has joined the club,” Mansford said on the club’s official website.

“Neil has done very well for us and those calls can we always come but this came out of the blue.

“I got a call from Neil on Wednesday evening who said he had received a call from Steven Gerrard.

“Michael Beale has joined QPR and Steven wanted Neil to join him as his assistant and Neil was reasonable clear that he wanted to take that opportunity and it was right for him.

“He said Aston Villa would be in touch to finalise the formalities of the approach and Neil’s exit.

“I spoke to the board, John Stephenson and Aston Villa were in touch on Wednesday night. They conducted themselves properly and went through the right process.

“Things snowballed on Thursday morning, Simon and Neil spoke and it became clear that was what Neil wanted to do.

“We got the details formalised, the press statement, staff and players, it took us all by surprise.”

The Verdict

Things seemed to happen very quickly for Critchley, who must not have had to deliberate a lot when it came to making the move to Villa Park.

He has been questioned for giving up a role as a head coach to work as an assistant, but perhaps the money was too good to turn down, or he realised he could perhaps not take Blackpool any further.

Regardless of his reasoning, Blackpool now need a new head coach who will do as good a job as Critchley.

Perhaps against the odds, Critchley had the Seasiders well-clear of relegation danger this past season – without him they could perhaps struggle so it’s important that they get the appointment right.


25 years old, UCLan Sports Journalism graduate, Preston North End fan

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Key Blackpool figure issues fresh details on Neil Critchley’s surprise Aston Villa move

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