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3 Things We Learnt From Blackpool’s Opening Day Win Against Burton Albion

After the heartbreak and disappointment surrounding Blackpool‘s relegation to League One last season, it was vital that they got off on the right foot.

They recorded a routine 2-0 win at home against Burton Albion, where The Seasiders looked in complete control throughout the first half, and produced a dominant display. Here we take a look at 3 things we learnt from Blackpool’s showing.

Shayne Lavery is ready to fill Jerry Yates’ boots.

It is no secret that Blackpool fans were devastated when they found out that Jerry Yates was set to leave the club.

The forward has been a consistent goalscorer for the club, in both League One and the Championship. Questions were raised as to where the goals were going to come from, and the signing of Kyle Joseph from Swansea was expected to help.

Another option was Shayne Lavery. The Northern Irishman has been given a chance under new boss Neil Critchley, and he certainly took that chance with both hands.

He has had a fine preseason, and Critchley named him alongside Jake Beesley in a front two against Burton.

It was a brilliant showing in the first half from him. Constantly closing down defenders, giving them no room to breathe and forcing errors. His runs constantly pulled defenders away from key areas and got him through on goal multiple times.

He also scored both of Blackpool’s goals. His first, a slightly fortuitous one, as the ball broke to him after a slight goalmouth scramble, which he made no mistake with.

His second could be deemed a bit more impressive. He closed down the Burton defender, got his body in front, and hustled the ball off of him.

He raced through on goal, and whilst under pressure from the defender, took the ball to the goalkeeper, waiting for him to make his move, before lofting the ball over Jamal Blackman, and into the far side of the net to make it 2-0.

It was a brilliant goal, especially for a striker who has hardly had a chance over the last 12 months. If Blackpool can keep Lavery fit and in form, the loss of Jerry Yates may not hurt as much.

Morgan and Norburn are the midfielders Blackpool have been crying out for.

The midfield area has been a position that Blackpool have been struggling with over the past few years. Gone are the days of Charlie Adam and David Vaughn.

Over the past few seasons, Blackpool have been crying out for a creative midfielder, one that has an eye for a pass, demands to be on the ball, and can make things happen in midfield.

Last season Charlie Patino showed flashes of this, but ultimately the poor form of the squad hindered this.

Evidently, the Blackpool board considered this a priority this season, as Ollie Norburn arrived from Peterborough, and Albie Morgan arrived from Charlton after leaving as a free agent.

There were question marks around Albie Morgan, as he was relatively unknown among the stands at Bloomfield Road, but Blackpool have been long-term admirers of Ollie Norburn, and they finally managed the bring their target in.

Both players were thrust into the starting 11, and both performed brilliantly. In the opening 45 minutes, Burton were reduced to nothing.

Norburn and Morgan controlled the midfield with ease. The linkup play between the two was brilliant to watch, and they seemingly understood each other's game, despite not playing with each other that often.

Norburn proved his quality with his forward balls, long diagonals and his interest in getting forward. Morgan was the same, his intricate linkup play was easy on the eye, and he frequently found himself in and around the Burton box.

In the second half, the intensity of the team died down, but the pair remained impressive throughout. Despite them not controlling play, they consistently broke down Burton attacks.

It is not surprising that Norburn has been given the captain's armband straight away either. His constant talking and organisation helped Blackpool remain solid when they were under pressure.

It is confusing as to why Charlton and Peterborough let this calibre of players go, but Blackpool have certainly benefitted from these decisions.

If Blackpool can keep both of these players fit and available for selection, they will challenge for promotion.

Critchley will tinker with the squad, again.

An issue Blackpool supporters had with Critchley last time he was at the club was that he liked to tinker with the squad.

Whether they had just won 5-0, or played out a thrilling 2-2 draw, Critchley would make changes depending on who they were playing next.

It did not matter whether Blackpool were in good form or not, or had played their best game of the season, he could still drop anyone from the starting XI.

This was evident in the starting XI for Blackpool’s game against Burton as well. Whilst the midfield and attacking two players named themselves, it was in the defensive areas where eyebrows were raised.

The more understandable one was the inclusion of James Husband at left centre back. With little cover in defensive areas, and the fact he is a left-footed centre-back, he is Blackpool’s best option in this position at the moment.

The Seasiders are looking at a loan deal for Aston Villa defender Josh Feeney who could fill that role, should he join.

The other two surprises were both wing-backs. CJ Hamilton, a winger, and Callum Connolly, a centre-back/central midfielder, were Critchley’s choices, despite there being two out and out wing backs on the bench, in the form of Dom Thompson and Andy Lyons.

The exclusion of Andy Lyons was unfathomable for some Blackpool fans, as since his arrival last January, he has been one of the club's best players, popping up with a few goals, and being sturdy in defence.

It may be the case that Critchley does not know his best team yet, or that he was playing it a bit more safe and defensively for the opening game of the season. Blackpool fans will need to get reacquainted with the tinkering.

There were, obviously, plenty more positives, and a few negatives, to take from that opening day 2-0 win, but the feel good factor is back at Bloomfield Road under Neil Critchley, and his infamous fish bumps returned once again.

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