Hartlepool United sit bottom of League One. That’s right, stone cold last, bottom of League One without a win in eleven games and struggling to maintain any form, relegation beckons. To add to Pool’s misery they are now without a manager due to Neale Cooper’s resignation.
Never go back they say in football! Things will not be the same second time around. When the club announced Cooper was to arrive at the club for a second spell in charge fans began to believe that the good times would return to Victoria Park this season. Sadly they haven’t. For a man loved by the fans during his first spell in charge in 2005, it has ended badly.
His resignation despite what you think of him has come at the right time. Pools have only won seven games from 43 during his tenure as manager. Their away form has been dreadful and the club have conceded far too many late goals. The responsibility for how the players perform for the full ninety minutes falls on the managers shoulders.
The signings Cooper made have not performed and just recently we have been scrambling around to get young players in on loan from other clubs that we do not need. We have perfectly good talent in players like Luke James that last season were terrific and who I feel haven’t been given a fair crack of the whip recently.
The players have clearly not connected with the manager and it has been clear for all to see. Changing the captaincy despite Sam Collins being out of form all year was in my opinion a bad move and players like Steve Howard who the manager had great expectations for have been left fending for themselves upfront without any support.
Being openly critical of his players in the media ultimately led to him losing the dressing room. In the modern game now managers are required to have good man management skills. His passion and hunger for the game were second to none but ultimately in this day and age you can’t be critical of your own players. After all our players are good enough they have proved it before in previous seasons.
The outgoing manager tried everything he could to turn Pools fortune around, but there is no sentiment in football. The clubs ‘never say die’ attitude will live on and Hartlepool United will continue to plough on through the struggle. However, there is just one question remaining, who will be the new man in charge?
Phil Brown, Ian Bogie, Micky Barron and Sean Dyche appear to be just some of the early front runners to fill the vacant managers position. Chairman Ken Hodcroft must get this choice right as Pool’s future firmly rests on his decision.
The new man, whoever it may be, must galvanize the players and help them find their confidence again. If this is achieved, gone are the days the club will sit bottom of the table.
I would personally like to see someone with experience come in, someone who’s been there done it before and can elevate the club to the next level. Perhaps someone like Phil Brown would be a good fit; he has connections to the club and is from the North so he would be an obvious candidate. The alternative to this is to possibly pinch another club’s manager from the league below.
League Two has some good managers plying their trade well in the game, maybe someone like Mark Yates or Micky Mellon would be worth looking at. Fans of their clubs may not thank me for suggesting such names, but I think it makes perfect sense and it would give someone an opportunity to step up.
Hopefully the Hartlepool players can focus their minds for the game on Saturday against Brentford in the mean time, as we desperately need some points. Playing for the supporters and giving some good performances should be what they are looking to achieve now whilst the search for the new manager concludes.
Written by John Mason, We Are Going Up’s Hartlepool United blogger
John tweets at @johnmason_29