Transfer/Insight: Demetri Mitchell

Demetri Mitchell becomes our eleventh signing of this window after a month’s trial. The 23-year-old has had injury problems over the last couple of years but has clear ability, so the club has been monitoring his fitness, as well as his capabilities, and determined that he’s worth signing for a contract following interest from Sunderland.

The one ability all Pool fans will already be aware of is the pace that Mitchell possesses – he will be more of a threat than James Husband going forward and an option for games where we’re struggling to break the opposition down, particularly when their legs are tiring.

Background

Mitchell worked his way through the Manchester United academy along with fellow recent recruit Alex Fojtíček. While he didn’t quite make the grade at Old Trafford, this doesn’t mean the young recruit doesn’t have potential. Originally, Liverpool and Manchester United were interested before the latter secured his services in an academy deal.

Initially a winger, he was converted to an attacking full-back during his Manchester United days and made one senior appearance for the Red Devils against Crystal Palace in 2017. He won the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award in 2018, spending 18 months on loan with Hearts in the Scottish Premiership, from 2018-19. He suffered an injury to his meniscus tendon in 2018, an injury which has persisted and halted his development at United, and Mitchell was released in the summer. He’s not had a regular run of games in the last couple of years, and the Manchester-born defender turns 24 in January so will be looking to get his career back on track with us.

More recently, Mitchell was training with Sunderland who were understood to be interested in a deal for the defender before he came on trial with the mighty Pool. It’s great again to see Blackpool becoming the first choice for ambition and success, which shows we are implementing a successful structure and have a clear vision which players are buying into. This will only get stronger as we prove we’re now a good club for young players to come and develop.

Style of Play

Demetri is an attacking left back, capable of using both feet comfortably. The first pass he likes to make is generally forwards, direct into midfield or the forwards and he looks to support in attack on the overlap. His pace will help him a lot in this department, and it really does suit the mouth-watering attacking style of play we have become accustom to in pre-season under Neil Critchley. Mitchell has some silky skills and a level of unpredictability which will hopefully increase as he becomes accustomed to League One football over the coming months. He’s also capable with set-pieces which is something we’ve been lacking.

My only concern with his attack-minded nature, whilst he will support and no doubt offer another attacking blade going forwards, is whether he will be selfish. He clearly likes a shot so will likely take it on for himself if an opportunity becomes available. I just hope that Critch ensures he is not too wasteful in having a go, and he becomes more of a service man for the likes of Jerry Yates and others, to ensure we capitalise on these chances.

Defensive Questions

Questions might also be raised on his defensive abilities and attributes – with many considering if he is a little lightweight. Mitchell hasn’t played regularly for 12 months and has been more accustomed to youth football over his career. He may well indeed need to pack on some muscle to help him cope with the physical demands of playing week-in week out in a fixture congested League One schedule this year. Potentially Mitchell will be used initially as a backup to the reliable Husband, though one option is to move Hubby to centre-back where we are currently short and allow Mitchell to be used at left-back. His fitness is certainly something we’ll need to keep an eye on and will surely determine whether his time with Blackpool is deemed to be a success.

Highlights

Demetri’s goals for Hearts – these illustrate his abilities in the final third, with both feet
Above are some of his highlights with the Manchester United youth teams and his loan spells with Hearts

Our Verdict

We discussed the potential of this signing on the 1-2 Podcast and this one might have ticked on a little longer than initially expected, but it’s great to see a player with clearly huge potential at the club. Mitchell will bring further pace to this exciting and young Blackpool side and while his defensive abilities may be questioned at times as we haven’t seen the full package, we fully expect the defender to be able to cope with the challenge of League One football if he can stay fit. He will need time to settle in and get used to our style of play, but that’s something he has had chance to do over the last month on trial and clearly Critch has seen enough to know he will be worth the gamble. The biggest question mark remains on fitness and hopefully his injury problems are behind him so that we can see him get his career back on track – if he can do this, he will surely have the ability to play higher up the football pyramid and hopefully that comes with us. He’s certainly at the right place to develop with Critch and the coaching staff.

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Image credit: Last Word On Sports

Published by Dan Hopwood

Life long Blackpool fan, thanks to my older brother for dragging me to Bloomfield Road in days of Colin Hendry! Currently a seaside exile living in London.

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