The two bosses will come head-to-head in the Bloomfield Road dugout on Saturday as the West Lancashire rivals renew their rivalry for the first time since 2013.
While both sides will do all they can to come out on top, Critchley insists there will be plenty of respect between the two men in charge.
“I saw his record the other day and I thought it was really impressive,” Critchley said.
“Alex Neil did a great job at Preston and Frankie was part of that. He’s since taken that on and put his own spin on it a little bit.
“He had a good end to the season last year and his record so far this season, if you look at the teams they’ve played and how they’ve performed, it stands up well.
“I don’t know Frankie personally, but he sent me a text message after we got promoted at Wembley which I really appreciated. That was a touch of class from him.
“Everyone I speak to about him says he’s a really good football man, so I’m really looking forward to speaking to him.
“We’ll give everything and they’ll give everything to win the game, but after the game I’ll hopefully share a drink with him, shake his hand and have a good conversation with him.”
In his pre-match press conference duties on Thursday, McAvoy revealed that his neighbours were Blackpool fans.
The revelation came during that memorable day in May, when the Seasiders overcame Lincoln City to secure their return to the Championship after a six-year absence.
When asked if he has any Preston fans nearby, Critchley added: “Not really. I know one or two Preston supporters, so I’ve distanced myself from them this week. But only one or two.
“I don’t live in the area, so I don’t have PNE fans knocking on my door.”
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