This Week's Opposition: Blackpool

Photo Credit: Blackpool FC

Well after a fortnight off due to another international break, we’re finally on course to welcome the Blues back into action. Fratton Park is the venue for this weekend’s League One encounter with Blackpool.

That’s right, it’s the battle of the seaside outfits with promotion to the Championship most certainly the aim for both clubs this season.

Blackpool have only just come down from the 2nd tier, having finished 23rd last season and 5 points adrift of safety.

This represents the 17th match of Pompey’s league campaign, in which they still remain unbeaten… So let’s take a look into the side looking to threaten that record at PO4 this weekend.

MANAGER

Neil Critchley is currently at the helm of The Seasiders, or The Tangerines as they are also known.

The Blackpool boss had a short playing career, hanging up his boots at the age of just 24 having featured just once for Crewe Alexandra and 3 times for Leigh RMI.

At this stage he became a coach at Crewe, working underneath Steve Holland. Critchley was appointed as joint Academy Director of the club in 2007 and remained until 2013, when he was poached by Liverpool to become an Under-18s coach.

In December 2019, he served as Liverpool’s stand-in manager for their Carabao Cup match away at Aston Villa, which saw a hugely changed side full of youngsters were beaten 5-0. A few months later, Critchley would again stand in for Jurgen Klopp to oversee The Reds’ 1-0 victory over Shrewsbury Town in The FA Cup.

In March 2020, he was appointed for the first time as Blackpool boss and was able to guide the club to the Championship via the League One Play-Offs at the end of his first full season in charge in 2021.

A year later, Critchley was poached by Steven Gerrard, who then managed Aston Villa and recruited the Blackpool gaffer as his assistant. This role lasted just 6 months before Queens Park Rangers came knocking with an offer to take over as their head coach in December 2022.

In May of this year, the now 45-year-old returned to Bloomfield Road, having been sacked by QPR and replaced by Gareth Ainsworth, who has already been shown the exit door by the West London club.

ONE TO WATCH

Our one to watch is a very familiar face… Owen Dale.

Dale started his career at Crewe, scoring his first senior goal in a 6-1 defeat to Crawley Town at Gresty Road in March 2019.

After scoring 4 goals in 4 games, Dale was named the 'League One Player of the Month’ for December 2020 and in Crewe’s end-of-season awards, he won 4 awards including Player of the Season.

Dale joined Blackpool as a loanee with the option to complete a permanent transfer in the January of 2022. He only made 7 appearances for the club, scoring 1 goal but signed on a permanent deal in the summer

His future with The Seasiders, however, was up in the air and in August 2022 Dale joined the Blues on loan for the full length of the 2022/23 season.

The winger, who is now 25, made his first Pompey start in a 3-0 Carabao Cup First Round win at Cardiff City. He went on to score his first goal in a 3-1 victory in the league against Bristol Rovers.

During his time at Pompey he became a key player in the starting XI, making a total of 50 appearances in league and cup, scoring 2 goals.

TOP SCORER

Loanee Jordan Rhodes is the club’s current top goalscorer.

Rhodes started his senior career at Ipswich Town 2007 and went on to enjoy loan spells at Oxford United, Rochdale and Brentford across the space of 2 years.

He then signed for Huddersfield Town on a 4-year contract for an undisclosed fee in 2009, going on to record over 100 competitive appearances for the club.

He also played for Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday.

Rhodes returned to Huddersfield Town 9 years after he left to sign for Blackburn, putting pen-to-paper on a 3-year contract in July 2021.

Rhodes joined Blackpool on loan until the end of this season back in the summer.

The striker, who wears the number 16 shirt, has managed 10 league goals out in 14 appearances for the club so far.

CURRENT FORM

So far this campaign, Neil Critchley’s side have recorded 7 wins, 6 draws and 5 defeats from their opening 18 League One fixtures.

This return has earned them 27 points and a place in 8th position, outside of the Play-Off places on goal difference.

Blackpool were still in action last weekend and had not had their match against Shrewsbury postponed due to call-ups. That was a game they won by 4 goals to nil at Bloomfield Road thanks to goals from Jordan Rhodes, Kyle Joseph and a Jake Beesley double.

That win last time out stands as their only league victory from their previous 4 outings, losing against Peterborough United and Bolton Wanderers either side of a thrilling 3-3 draw with local rivals Fleetwood Town.

Can Pompey return from the international break fresh and raring to get back to winning ways in the league, or could Blackpool become the first side to beat the Blues this season?

All of the unmissable action will be right here on 93.7 Express FM, DAB Digital Radio, Online & iFollow from 2 O'Clock this Saturday (November 25th) afternoon - Pompey Live will be brought to you by Aqua Cars and presented by Robbie James, Jake Smith and Cherelle Khassal on scene at Fratton Park.

Kick-off: 3pm!

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