After a repeat defeat on Sunday at Notts County for the second season running, Hartlepool do not want a repeat performance of last year where the remainder of their season tails off. Impressive inroads have been made to try to take the club forward this campaign. Mick Wadsworth has been given the permanent post of manager to try and install that extra belief in the players to go on another good run under his guidance. The gamble to give him an extended stay has paid off so far with them sitting in 9th place in the League One table with a game in hand.
Although the team lost 3-0 at the weekend and have now lost two games in a row, they have made an excellent start this year. The club went nine games unbeaten before finally surrendering their form to Sheffield Wednesday at home, with the curse of being mentioned on the Football League Show and having Mark Clemmit to come visit them being an obvious excuse for losing. Not many will have expected little old Hartlepool to be up there from the start this year, but the manager and players maintain that if they can be up the top of the league after Christmas they could well feature in and around the play-off’s this season.
However, Pools fan will be hoping that they don’t fall from grace and slide down the table like last season – after suffering defeat at Notts County they fell dramatically from in and around the play-offs to managing to just stay out of the relegation battle. Most fans believe that this year Hartlepool have strengthened and have certainly added more grit and determination to their rank. Lacking a killer instinct last season, I watched them many times and thought they manage to stay in games, but fell away towards the last third of matches.
This season they have added a few additions to the team in James Poole, Nathan Luscombe, Colin Nish and of course Nolberto Solano. As you can tell from that little list they have really focused on scoring goals and going forward. Usually solid at the back, the team definitely lacked goals last season, whereas this season they are coming in abundance. James Poole and Nathan Luscombe have hit the ground running and scored some superb goals between them. Despite not featuring regularly in the starting line-up, they are more utilised as impact players and are already becoming fans favourites for turning and winning matches.
Nolberto Solano, nicknamed by many adoring fans across the globe as ‘Nobby’, has provided width and his set piece ability to the squad is clear for all to see; scoring already this season with a couple of glorious free kicks. He is a good character to have within the team and one that provides the team with a level head of experience that is better than the majority within League One.
Finally, Colin Nish is a player who has had to work hard to convince the fans he is worth his place. Although, thankfully, he’s winning them over now; he’s not been particularly potent, but the manager has stuck by him in that he offers a target man up front – the ultimate necessity at this level.
I just pray that this season, and having watched them this Sunday and witnessed first hand how badly they played, that Hartlepool don’t slip back into their old ways and they can push on to improve upon last season’s performance in the league. I’m sure you Pools fans out there like me and Jeff Stelling will be hoping for something to shout about in the near future.
Written by John Mason, We Are Going Up’s Hartlepool United Blogger
John tweets at @john_mason29