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SPORTS UPDATE

Blackpool manager Critchley dumps job for Aston Villa

Blackpool Manager Neil Critchley has left his position to join Steven Gerrard’s coaching staff at Aston Villa.

The 43-year-old becomes Gerrard’s new assistant after Michael Beale left Villa Park to take his first job as a number one with Queens Park Rangers.

Critchley led Blackpool to promotion from League One via the play-offs during his first full season at the helm, earning him the North-West Football Awards’ Manager of the Season accolade in November 2021, and then managed them successfully to a mid-table position in the Championship last term.

Critchley crossed paths with Gerrard after joining the Liverpool Academy in 2013, coaching the U18s and U23s, and took charge of the senior Liverpool side twice during the 2019/20 season. One of those occasions was against Villa for a Carabao Cup tie with the Reds’ first team away at the Club World Cup.

“Neil Critchley was my number one choice when looking for a new assistant head coach,” said Gerrard. “He is a fantastic coach who I have obviously worked with before and know his qualities. We look forward to welcoming him to Aston Villa.”

Blackpool owner Simon Sadler said: “Neil has been a consummate professional ever since arriving at Blackpool and really bought into what this Club and Town are all about. He has built up strong relationships with the staff, players and supporters and made some special memories for us all.

“Naturally, we are disappointed to lose him but thank him for all that he has achieved during his time at Bloomfield Road and wish him well in the Premier League with Aston Villa.

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