Critchley replaces Beale as Aston Villa Assistant Head Coach

Neil Critchley worked with Steven Gerrard at Liverpool's Academy 

Neil Critchley worked with Steven Gerrard at Liverpool's Academy 

ASTON VILLA have pulled off a major coup by securing Blackpool boss Neil Critchley as Michael Beale's replacement as Assistant Head Coach.

Beale was appointed QPR manager yesterday, having previously worked as Steven Gerrard's number two at both Rangers and Villa. The former England midfielder had made no secret of the importance of Beale to his coaching staff, but the arrival of Critchley has softened the blow of his departure.

The 43-year-old took over as Blackpool boss in March 2020 and led the club to promotion to the Championship in 2020/21. Prior to this he worked for Liverpool’s Academy for six-and-a-half years, as both Under-18 and U23 boss.

When Critchley exited Liverpool, Academy Director Inglethorpe said: “Neil epitomises the best qualities of a modern coach: leadership skills, intelligence, compassion and a hunger for individual and collective improvement.”

Villa boss Steven Gerrard had previously said it would take him "15 to 20 years to become as good as Michael Beale as an on-pitch coach,” but Critchley was his first choice as replacement and Villa's boss has described him as “a fantastic coach".

Blackpool owner Simon Sadler admitted it was a major disappointment to lose a manager who had steered his side to promotion and then 16th place in the Championship last season.

"Neil has been a consummate professional ever since arriving at Blackpool and really bought into what this club and town are all about," Sadler said. "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."

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