Blackpool: “It’s crazy to think where we’ve come from.”

You know you must be doing something right if you’re disappointed to be held at home by promotion-chasing Sheffield United.

But that was the case as Blackpool lost ground on the chasing pack with a frustrating goalless draw against the Blades at Bloomfield Road on Wednesday night.

The Tangerines went into the game on the back of three successive victories, a run which had seen Neil Critchley’s side move up to 12th in the Championship.

And a point means all is far from lost as we head into the business end of the season with plenty still up for grabs.

But regardless of what happens between now and the end of the campaign, Pool have done themselves proud back in the second tier, something that their long-suffering supporters are more than aware of.

“I’m absolutely buzzing with the current performances that we’re putting in,” Dan Hopwood from Up The Mighty Pool tells FansBet.

Blackpool Manager 2022

“We’re looking like a solid outfit and getting harder and harder to beat.

“Back in October I said we needed better game management and to be more clinical and that’s exactly what’s happened.

“Josh Bowler is able to score great goals and has got that real quality in the last third and because of him and the likes of Gary Madine, we’ve looked so much more confident at this level.”

Confidence was high going into the new season, but not because supporters were eyeing a return to the Premier League having dropped from the top-flight to the fourth tier in just seven seasons.

More so the fact that long-suffering fans finally felt that they had their club back after years of turmoil, following the takeover by local businessman Simon Sadler in 2019.

Receivers had run the club after ex-owner Owen Oyston’s 31-year reign ended in the High Court before Sadler – who was born and raised in Blackpool – purchased 96.2% of the club, taking control of the stadium and adjoining hotel.

The takeover marked the end of a tumultuous period in Blackpool’s history but now means the Bloomfield Road faithful can finally look forward rather than backward.

“The togetherness is unbelievable,” says Dan.

“It’s crazy to think where we’ve come from, that’s probably why we’re so happy that we have got our club back.

“The fact that he’s (Sadler) from the town and taken Blackpool from the hard times to the new times is just phenomenal – it makes it kind of surreal.

“We’ve all been through those hard times and now we’re just enjoying it for what it is.”

Blackpool gained promotion back to the second-tier of English football after a superb run of form at the end of last season, with a run of only two losses in their final 22 league games lifting them into the top six.

After overcoming Oxford United in the semi-finals, the Tangerines defeated Lincoln City 2-1 in the final at Wembley.

That magical afternoon in the capital secured a return to the Championship for the first time since 2015.

Simon Sadler Blackpool FC

And after a slow start to this season, Neil Critchley’s men appear to have now adapted to their new surroundings, with successive promotions still a possibility should Blackpool replicate last year’s late surge.

“We’re fully aware that we might not have Critch forever,” explains Dan.

“But with his performances, his tactics and his awareness, along with the players he’s bringing in, we’re enjoying it so much more.

“Obviously we’ll probably get carried away with it and have dreams of the Premier League and if we can get there again it will be amazing – having said that, I think we’ve left it a little bit too late this time.”

Head coach Neil Critchley may have had to settle for a point in his 100th game in charge of the Tangerines on Wednesday night, but the draw still leaves his side in touch with the play-off places as Blackpool look to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2011.

Neil Critchley Blackpool 2022

And with nine games remaining, the Seasiders are just seven points behind QPR, who currently occupy sixth place in the Championship.

“Last year, we were able to put an amazing run together and get promotion from League One via the play-offs, but I do think that’s going to be too hard now,” says Dan.

“The numbers are similar to the last time we went up to the Premier League but I feel the Championship has just got much more quality now and the gap is that much bigger.

“I can’t see the teams above us making that many mistakes and dropping as many points as they would have in the past.

“Because of that I don’t think this will be our season, but hopefully we can build, keep the players we have and have another crack at it next season.”

Follow Matthewjcrist on Twitter

Author: Paula Bryant