Neil Critchley: I must set right example for tricky Blackpool FA Cup tie at Hartlepool

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Neil Critchley says his Tuesday night at Hartlepool was among the coldest of his life, though he has no doubt it left the home club fully fired up to face his Seasiders in the FA Cup.


Blackpool’s head coach watched League Two Hartlepool United warm up for Saturday’s third-round clash by eliminating Bolton Wanderers from the Papa John’s Trophy – and was impressed by what he saw.

The Pool boss said: “Hartlepool want to play football and have a good balance between being able to play through midfield or in behind.

Neil Critchley is just thawing out after watching Hartlepool but says his midweek visit was very important

Neil Critchley is just thawing out after watching Hartlepool but says his midweek visit was very important

“They will think they have nothing to lose and it’s a dangerous game for us. We have to give them respect and we will.

“Sometimes you have one of those days, a decision can go against you maybe and you can lose. That’s the beauty of the FA Cup but we have to try to control the aspects of performance that we can.”

He may still be thawing out but Critchley believes his attendance at Victoria Park was imperative.

He explained: “The preparation for these games is really important and, if staff sense I’ve taken my foot off the pedal this week or I’m not taking the game seriously, that can set the wrong tone for the team.

“It’s really important we don’t approach this game any differently. We have a consistent way of working and we have to treat Hartlepool exactly the same as if it’s Bournemouth away. It is a tricky tie.”

Despite the focus on the league, it’s a tie Critchley is fully committed to winning.

He added: “We know they had a good win in the week over a team from the league above, so they will be thinking, ‘Why can’t we beat Blackpool?’

“If we drop standards and they lift their game, we could be in trouble. We know it will be difficult but we have to concentrate on what we can bring to the game.

“We have to be fully focused and professional, and if we are, that gives us a good chance but there are no guarantees.

“Sometimes you can be the better team and still lose but we have to give ourselves the best chance of getting through because we want a good run in the FA Cup.”