Yes, you read that headline right – Critchley Class of 2020. I don’t mind the ‘Critchley & Calderwood Class’, but please never just the ‘Colin Calderwood Class’. Let’s not forget who the main man is – the man who left Liverpool for a project he felt was ‘special’ and who put the wheels in motion on what could be the start of a very good trip. In this blog, I wanted to pay a tribute to the efforts Neil Critchley has made and the progress he’s made with the squad over the last couple of months.
Pointing the finger
It’s all too easy to point the blame and single the manager out for criticism when results aren’t going our way. ‘He’s too inexperienced’, ‘He can’t control the players’, ‘Go back to academy football’, “Critchley Out’. These were some of the most overly dramatic, emotionally driven comments circulating on social media – but I’ll let our fellow fans off for those. It has, after all, been a very tough year and one to forget – both in football and away from it. I’d be lying if I said the initial run of Critchley and the new Pool boys wasn’t causing me massive concern. Losing five of the first six, we all felt it and were hurt by the way we seemed to be throwing games away after such a promising pre-season.
But I like to think I always remained realistic. I knew the summer overhaul would take time and in some cases felt we were downright hard done to by some of the League One officials, as well as a bit of bad luck at times too.
Following the late transfer window additions of Gabriel, Gretarsson, Ballard and Dougall, who have all steadily settled into our strongest lineup, we are seemingly now a strong squad which have bonded. We are showing our togetherness and chemistry as we sweep aside the table-topping Peterborough – and in a pretty comfortable fashion too if I may add.
We have just won three consecutive league games on the spin, and are sitting reasonably comfortably in 14th place. We’ve also progressed in both the Papa Johns Trophy and are through to the next round of the FA Cup, so it has to be seen as a case of mission accomplished so far – even if there is some work to be done from here on in.
So who deserves credit for the turnaround?
Calderwood? Critchley? Sadler? In truth they all do, but by honing in on the addition of the experienced number two Calderwood as solely his doing would be offensive to Critchley. The club board said as much in their recent meeting with fan groups. There does seem to be a small agenda against Critchley amongst our fanbase for whatever reason, but what he has done has been nothing short of fantastic in a short period of time in making the whole club far more professional.
Yes, I hear you, initially substitutions seemed confusing, he may have said that he was setting up tactically for other teams, and also cringingly provided the ‘dust ourselves down’ comment that we so badly associated with Lee Clark. But, to be fair to Critchley, he has done just that. He has delivered on his word, unlike Clark’s empty words and false promises. He’s sorted us out and learnt from his early mistakes. The end product is the ‘Champagne Football’ we saw against Posh which was our best performance of the season – it won’t have been a coincidence that this came after two weeks on the training ground where the squad learnt more about our style of play, as well as each other which will have helped our chemistry and morale.
Calderwood’s Critchley’s Man
Final note on Calderwood. I am grateful he has come in and he will no doubt make a difference – he seemingly already has based on our recent results. Calderwood will be modest enough not to take full praise for recent results and was clearly brought in as Critchley’s man; he wanted to work with him and the appointment was a vote of confidence to Critchley by backing him with an additional coach rather than pulling the trigger prematurely. So if you’re firmly on the Calderwood bandwagon, you’re indirectly thanking Critchley anyway for the appointment!
Let’s be straight, I’m not saying not to praise Calderwood, as he has clearly had an impact. But let’s not pretend he’s the deciding factor here and that Critchley is just the ‘good cop’ who is too nice and incapable of making the difference himself. Let’s thank the board, the back room staff and the players for the run we are currently on, rather than lazily putting it down to the most recent appointment. It works both ways – when we are on a bad run, Critchley will naturally be the one in the firing line, so he does deserve some credit too when we are doing so well.
What do you think? Does Critchley deserve more credit?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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