Blackpool boss Neil Critchley discusses Sheffield United’s transition under new boss Slavisa Jokanovic

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Neil Critchley has been intrigued by the transition Blackpool’s upcoming opponents Sheffield United have made under new boss Slavisa Jokanovic.


The Blades enjoyed a memorable five years under former boss Chris Wilder, who led them from League One to a top-half finish in the Premier League.

But the South Yorkshire side now find themselves back in the Championship with Jokanovic, formerly of Watford and Fulham, now at the helm.

After a sluggish start to the campaign, the Blades have recovered somewhat and now sit in 14th, three points adrift of the Seasiders.

On Sheffield United’s different approach under Jokanovic, Critchley said: “It has changed.

“To take them from League One to the Championship, then take them up into the Premier League and keep them there…what an unbelievable achievement that was.

“I was only thinking about this the other day, I’ve seen how hard this division is and for them to get promoted and stay in the Premier League, that’s as good as Manchester City winning the league or Liverpool winning the Champions League.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

“You’d have to say it might even be better because you’ve got to do it over 38 games in the Premier League or 46 in the Championship. It was just an incredible feat.

“There are a lot of players that are still there from Chris’ time, but the new manager has brought in a different way of playing and a different system. It does take time for the players to adapt.

“I totally understand why Chris would play the way he did and he had great success with his way of doing it with three at the back. You could say he invented the underlapping outside centre-backs joining in and it caused teams a lot of problems.

“The system has changed now, but what I would say is they’ve got a very good group of players and their possession stats are one of the best in the league and you can see why with the quality they’ve got.”

Blackpool, meanwhile, will be looking to continue their rich vein of form when they make the trip to Bramall Lane this weekend.

Their 2-0 derby win against Preston on Saturday means Critchley’s side have now won six of their last nine games in the Championship, leaving them level on points with fifth place.

“It’s not just the Preston game, it’s the other games as well. This has been building for a while,” Critchley said.

“But when you win a big derby game like that at home, it can’t fail to have a positive effect on the group as a whole.

“There’s a good atmosphere and there’s a good environment we work in at the moment and we aim to keep that going this weekend.”