Neil Critchley: Blackpool name Liverpool Under-23s coach as new boss

Neil Critchley celebrates a Liverpool win
Neil Critchley's job at Blackpool is his first as a senior head coach

League One club Blackpool have named Liverpool Under-23s boss Neil Critchley as their head coach on a contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.

Critchley, 41, twice took charge of Liverpool's first team this season, for a 5-0 Carabao Cup defeat by Aston Villa and then a 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round replay win over Shrewsbury.

He succeeds Simon Grayson, who was sacked in February.

Blackpool are 13th in the table, 13 points outside the play-off places.

The move brings to an end Critchley's six-and-a-half-year stay with Liverpool, having joined the Reds academy in 2013 after working as academy director at Crewe Alexandra.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said he was "really happy" for Critchley and that the club could not stand in his way.

"It's a nice challenge for him, a nice opportunity. He wanted to take it, he asked the club and we said, 'Yes, of course'," the German continued.

"It's really nice because it shows it's possible that you can make your way as a youth or under-23s coach as well, that's always what we wanted to have.

"I'm really happy for him that he got that opportunity and that he takes it. It's a big club and hopefully everything will go well."

Blackpool owner Simon Sadler said bringing in the "highly regarded" coach can help "lay down the blueprint for our footballing philosophy".

He added: "We want this club to represent the town and community by playing entertaining football, working hard and being organised."

Critchley said he was "absolutely delighted" to take the job after a "truly special" time with Liverpool.

He earned himself a place in the six-time European champions' record books when he oversaw the youngest Liverpool starting line-up - which had an average age of 19 years 102 days - in their victory over Shrewsbury to book a place in the FA Cup fifth round in January.

Critchley first took charge of a youthful Reds side in the EFL Cup quarter-final in December when manager Klopp was away with his senior players at the Club World Cup in Qatar.

"It would have had to have taken something equally as special, if not more, for me to even think about leaving," Critchley said of his time at Liverpool.

"But from the conversations I've had here, I got a really good feeling about the people, where they want the club to go and how they want it to grow."

His appointment came after Blackpool had approaches for Swindon Town boss Richie Wellens and Oxford United's Karl Robinson rejected last week.

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