LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 4, 2020: Liverpool's Under-23 manager Neil Critchley during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Former Reds U23s boss Neil Critchley guides Blackpool to promotion

Former Liverpool U23s manager Neil Critchley has taken Blackpool to the Championship in his first full season in charge after the Tangerines won their play-off final at Wembley on Sunday.

The 42-year-old was doing a tremendous job at Kirkby and was highly regarded by Jurgen Klopp and the rest of the hierarchy at Anfield.

It was he who oversaw the development of several names who have gone on to begin to make the grade under Klopp at senior level of late, and Critchley who took charge of Liverpool’s FA Cup win over Shrewsbury in early 2020.

But just a couple of months later he took a senior role at Blackpool, highlighting that it needed something “special” to convince him to leave the Reds.

A little over a year later and it’s clear that Critchley himself has something special about his work, as he has taken the League One club from the bottom half to Wembley and sealed promotion to the second tier.

Former Reds midfielder Kevin Stewart is one of those in the Blackpool team these days and he played the full 90 minutes as they came from behind to beat Lincoln City and seal their ascension to the Championship.

That might raise the interesting prospect of Klopp opting to loan one or two players to his former colleague next season, given he’ll have good knowledge of the individuals and the club will likely trust him to continue their development in the right way.

Congratulations, Neil!