Blackpool boss Neil Critchley believes tomorrow afternoon’s opponents Sheffield United are ‘well-coached’ and have a clear way of playing under Slavisa Jokanovic, speaking to the Blackpool Gazette ahead of this weekend’s clash at Bramall Lane.
It’s the away side that currently sit higher up the Championship table after a bright start to life back in the second tier, arguably going under the radar but performing admirably under former Liverpool youth coach Critchley after their play-off promotion from League One in May.
This is also the Blades’ first season back in the Championship, but after being relegated as they finished at the foot of the table and failed to win any of their opening 17 top-tier games last term, they picked up from where they left off and went winless in their first five, consigning them to a temporary place in the relegation zone.
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Their form has improved since then, but are still suffering from inconsistency in their quest to climb up the table and will be desperate to record their second win in a week after surviving a late scare against local rivals Barnsley to win 3-2 and take all three points back to Bramall Lane.
They still sit in an underwhelming 14th position though, a disappointing start to their 2021/22 campaign considering they were tipped to be title contenders before the beginning of the season.
But with 32 league games left to go and Jokanovic’s men just three points away from Blackpool and the play-offs, Critchley has warned his side of the challenge they face in South Yorkshire tomorrow afternoon.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference to the Blackpool Gazette, he said: “He’s done a good job at previous clubs in this league and he’s obviously got experience in this league of getting teams out of it with Watford.
“You can see the team are well-coached and have a clear way of playing. That’s credit to him.
“The team has improved and they’ve picked up, so it will be a tough game for us, but a really good one.”
This looks set to be one of the most fascinating ties of the weekend. Despite a 2020/21 Premier League side coming up against a 2020/21 League One outfit, the two teams look even going into this game.
That isn’t due to the two side’s quality, because it’s clear the Blades have a higher calibre of players at their disposal after spending two seasons in the top tier of English football, but because of Critchley’s ability to get the best out of his players and their exciting play going forward.
After seeing their opponents only keep three clean sheets in 14 league games so far, the Seasiders will know this is a weakness they can exploit and will give them great encouragement going into a tough game at Bramall Lane.
However, the outcome of tomorrow’s game will depend on the hosts. As mentioned, they have a higher amount of quality and strength in depth compared to Blackpool, so if they can step up to the plate, a home win is likely.
Their home loss against Millwall last week shows that tomorrow won’t be an easy task though, so this one could go either way. A win for the Seasiders would only boost their morale further as we approach the next international break.