March 03, 2017

MB158 - March 2017

What a Turn-up!

What a Turn-up!


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY is pleasantly surprised



How many went to Pools on Tuesday night with a sense of foreboding? A game we HAD to win and our inability to create chances in previous games made you wonder what was in store. 

The first 44 minutes of the first half certainly didn’t inspire confidence as both Pools and Crewe struggled to create any meaningful chances. It wasn’t very thrilling yet, as often happens, something takes place which turns the game round. This time it was Pools who were the beneficiaries. And the PA announcer was able to announce the amount of added time and Alessandra’s goal in the same breath.
"Obviously, we became too dependent on Nathan Thomas"

Obviously, it changed Pools' approach to the game and they were able to dominate the second half and send everyone home happy. Obviously, we became too dependent on Nathan Thomas and his serious injury at Barnet just before Christmas ripped the heart out of Pools’ attacking ability. Then, of course, there was the injury to Trevor Carson. Mind you, in a perverse sort of way, the injuries meant that we didn’t lose both players during the January transfer window. But what will happen during the summer? Only time will tell.

Now that we’ve got an experienced manager, let’s hope that during the close season he does a good reconstruction job. One of the things he has done already is to convert Bradley Walker into the centre half role and he seems to be doing a good job. Many on the social media had identified Walker as one for the chop at the end of the season but I think he’s done enough to get a place on the retained list. Realistically, there’s no way we can keep Bates on the payroll. And if Walker continues to put in good performances then I can only see Bates getting a place on the subs bench – that’s if he’s fit.

What of the future? Some tough games coming up – starting this Saturday against Exeter City. They’re in a play-off spot and within spitting distance of an automatic promotion place. No doubt we’ll be able to indulge in some nostalgia – after all, it was against Exeter City two years ago that The Great Escape became a reality with goals by Scott Fenwick and Jordan Hugill (who has done rather well with Preston since his on-loan spell with Pools.) Important away games are against Notts County, Cheltenham and the big one at Leyton Orient on Easter Monday. Certainly squeaky bum time.

On to a general matter and I noticed that the President of UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin, has been a pompous geezer. He has said that Brexit could kill any bid by England for the World Cup, European Championship or Champions League final. He’s quoted as saying that they could have a serious problem if those travelling to the UK for European matches were denied entry post-Brexit. I can’t ever remember footy fans from wherever they come being denied entry to the UK so that they can follow their teams. What is it about these guys – is it something they put in the tea or the wine?

The Wind-up Wind Up

The Wind-up Wind Up

(Note: One of the above is pronounced 'Wind' and the other 'Wind')



BILLY'S CONTRACT attends a meeting




Last month myself and my two pals attended the fans' forum with Gary Coxall and David Jones. I got my tickets a couple of hours after they went on sale and I heard they had sold out shortly after lunch.

The compere on the night was Nick Loughlin from The Northern Echo 'echo echo echo' who began the evening with a series of questions for both manager and chairman. 'Why did you take the Job as Hartlepool manager?' 'I was drunk' said Dave Jones. 'What made you choose Dave Jones to be Pools' new manager?' 'He was drunk.' replied Mr Coxall.

Whilst this Q and A session was in progress, fans had the opportunity to put their own questions to the pair by filling in a card with their own question and were assured that all questions would be answered. The main questions from the floor concerned the financial state of Hartlepool United, as well as the numerous winding up orders which seemed to be dropping through the club's letterbox on an almost daily basis.

Mr Coxall said that winding-up orders are no different than a final red letter reminder from say the utilities companies regarding an outstanding bill that is overdue for payment. He then went on to say that football clubs were very easy targets for HMRC and that as a matter of course he deliberately makes them wait a few additional days before authorising payment for the monies owing. Having worked in the business sector myself this is all very well and good, no one likes anything better than to cock a snook at the taxman or suppliers and make them wait a little bit longer for their money.

The drawback with this method of payment is that it could affect the company's credit rating and ability to do business with other providers. For instance if Pools were looking to trade with a new supplier it would be normal business practice, before opening an account, for the prospective new supplier to have Pools' credit worthiness checked beforehand with either a credit rating agency or with suppliers who currently trade with them and who will provide trade references.
Based on the information provided, the supplier would then decide whether they would or would not want to do business with Pools (or whoever). The companies I worked for would not touch any prospective new customer wishing to open an account with us if they were noted as slow payers, had court appearances or worse still had winding up orders against their name. In fact the last company I worked for would only deal with Pools on a pro-forma cash up front basis, due to their poor credit history which went back years.

All in all I thought the chairman's explanation regarding deliberate late payment to HMRC came across to many including myself as very unprofessional on his part. Long-term the chairman is looking at purchasing the ground and that JPGN unlike IOR have re-established lines of communication with Hartlepool Borough Council and they are now talking to each other in a grown-up manner. Although discussions are in their early stages Mr Coxall because of confidentiality agreements was not in a position to go into detail about what has been discussed, other than it is a long term project which will hopefully benefit the town as well as the football club. He did add that not every fan might be pleased at some aspects of the future plans.

Interestingly Mr. Coxall said that he wanted the club not to be purely reliant on revenues taken at the turnstiles every two weeks and was looking at other external income streams. To that end Mr Coxall then introduced to the assembled, the club's recently-appointed financial director (apologies, I never made a note of her name) whom the chairman personally had 'head hunted', in order to look at ways of generating additional sources of revenue. He added that in the short time she had been with Pools she has already been talking to various organisations regarding sponsorship and the like and not just from the Hartlepool area.
"knowing the way HBC works they would probably want an ice rink or a crazy golf course on the pitch on non-match days"

As we all know, ground sponsors Northern Gas and Power are from Gateshead which is, it has got to be said, a bit of a coup. Like many Hartlepool chairmen before him he is looking, quite rightly, at making better use out of the 'Vic other than on match days. My first thought, after his earlier statement about not everybody buying into HUFC/HBC future plans was 'please no, not an artificial pitch, please, please no, no!' Mind, knowing the way HBC works they would probably want an ice rink or a crazy golf course on the pitch on non-match days.
One passionate fan with (pun coming up) 'A high level of interest' regarding the recent loans and their terms that the club had negotiated went head to head with the chairman telling him that the club were paying top dollar for these loans and more or less suggested that the loan sharks in question made Wonga look like a charitable organisation and as such it would take light years to repay these loans.

Gary Coxall, politely, blew the lad's argument out of the water when he asked him if he could let everyone in the room know terms had actually been agreed. The lad said you know what the terms are. Mr Coxall more or less implied that considering that the fan was not present when the loan was arranged he seemd to be well up on the terms that were signed off. Sadly for the fan in question it was a classic case of not being in possession of the facts and taking the rumour mill stories as being fact. Mr Coxall said that the club had got a competitive rate from the lenders and unlike dealing with the Big Four banks the deal was completed within days and not weeks. When asked what securities/assets the loan was held against. Mr Coxall stated it was his own assets and not the club's. This was greeted with universal applause. At the end of the evening I noticed that Mr Coxall went over to the lad who took issue with him and shook his hand and chatted with him briefly.

Another questioner noted that the younger fan base on the terrace seems to be in decline and suggested in order to get the numbers back up a 'Kids for a Quid' offer could be put in place. Once in the ground they will spend their pennies on Burgers, Chips, Pop kets and maybe in the process get hooked on Pools.

Mr. Coxall to his credit held his hands up and said this is something he should have addressed before now and will certainly look at introducing some such schemes. I noticed for the forthcoming games against Crewe and Exeter, Pools are doing this on a 'BOGOF ticket offer', so maybe the chairman has listened, which is a step in the right direction.

Dave Jones gave his his views on the team and its current plight, and the reason that he has brought in his own trusted back room staff all whom have worked with him previously and know what Jones requires. He alluded to the squad's fitness levels, their mental strength as well as the tendency being for heads to drop and 'Here we go again' once they have conceded a goal. In the plus column he was actually very surprised at the technical ability of many of the players in the squad. Dave Jones also made the point that whilst we will never compete with the likes of Sunderland or Newcastle for attracting local talented youngsters to Hartlepool United, the Scouting system needs overhauling and restructuring along with other aspects of the club.

One of his first jobs at the club was to relocate the training facilities at Houghall, sooner than the originally planned pre-season move, to another area of the campus where the players could enjoy more privacy and have their own canteen facilities and not mix with the students. (I heard from another source a few days later that the move was to stop the players eyeing up and fraternising with the local undergraduate talent and to keep their minds fully focussed on the job that they are paid to do.) To that end Dave Jones and the players all got stuck in and got their hands dirty and joined in with the decorating of the new site. (I can imagine, in years to come an art expert from Sotherbys or Fiona Bruce from Fake or Fortune closely inspecting the paintwork on the walls and screaming excitedly to the cameras 'Look, just look at those sweeping brush strokes side to side -  it's it's almost certainly a Featherstone).

One wag asked Dave Jones if he have any other clothing other than what he was wearing as every time he saw him on television or in the pages of the local press he was in a white T shirt with a black jumper over it. Jones in typical scouse mode was quick to point out that fashionwise it was streets ahead of what most of us in the room were wearing. He went on to say that since his appointment seven days earlier he had not been back home to Cardiff to see his wife and family let alone get a change of clothes. This was greeted with a deserved round of applause and was an early indication of his commitment to his new club. I felt like saying we do have a Primark in the town centre!

As it turned out not every question was answered as promised.  Our group had four questions, none of which were aired. (Why is every transfer fee put down as 'undisclosed' was one.) I think this was due to some lengthy answers that were given on the night as well as the number of questions that were submitted stacked high on the table beside the compere. A case of Tempus fugit I guess.

Making our way back home my mates and I discussed the evening's events.
Whilst we all agreed that Dave Jones seemed to be the right man for the managers job the jury was split over Gary Coxall. I said prior to the 'talk in'. that like all previous fans' forums I have attended, the chairman will say all the things that the fans want to hear, which indeed he did. Myself I would like to believe and buy into his vision but that said I am the type of person who believes that (Warning: pun coming up shortly) even Vlad the Impaler had his 'good points' (Sorry about that!)

One of my mates who was not wholly convinced voiced his concerns particularly about the chairman's flippant attitude to his dealings with HMRC. Time will tell. Time will tell.
Funny Old Game

Dear Vicki

Dear Vicki


VICKI PARK is back to answer your worrying questions



Dear Vicki,
A few years ago when I was running a lower-league football club, you very kindly gave me advice on the various problems I was having at the time, mainly to do with big ideas for the future and finance. I hear that a neighbouring club is having similar difficulties. Do you think it would be prudent to offer my services and my experiences, in case it might help?
GR, Darlington

Dear GR,
While it's kind of you to be so concerned for a neighbour, I'm afraid people get into these situations precisely because they won't listen to, or think they don't need advice. So I wouldn't interfere. However, once they come to terms with the disastrous situation they are in, they may in fact be coming to you should the authorities ever get involved. I'm sure you'd then be an ideal person to advise on the aftermath of such events, looking after any remaining funds, names of good solicitors etc.
Vicki

Dear Vicki,
I'm a not-long retired international footballer and I recently came in for a bit of stick when it came to light that I would like to have a knighthood. As a public figure with a high-profile wife and family, it was probably inevitable, but is there anything wrong with wanting a bit of recognition?
DB, London

Dear DB,
There's nothing at all wrong with wanting a bit of recognition. If some tireless fundraiser for cancer research is given an honour, it's probably wasted on them because they don't do it for the glory anyway and will be reluctant to use it. Far better for it to go to someone the public already knows and who is more likely to use it properly. Not only will it raise your own profile, it will also automatically make your wife posh by her becoming Lady B, which should give her something to smile about.
Vicki


Dear Vicki,
I am manager of a struggling Premiership club, and I'm having a terrible season. My team are bottom of the league and I'm still here. The manager who won the Premiership trophy last season was sacked last week and his team were nowhere near as bad as us. Obviously if I resign I won't have my contract paid up, but why haven't they sacked me?
DM, Sunderland

Dear DM,
This is a tricky one. Obviously professional pride will keep you doing your best, but it must be demoralising for everyone at the club, and not just you, to be rubbish, with all of you probably wishing you were elsewhere. 

It could be that the board have realised that relegation cannot be avoided so why would they pay up your contract and pay another manager as well, when he won't save you anyway. Or it could be that they have confidence in you long-term and think you can do what Rafa Benitez has been doing at Newcastle following their relegation. 

Either way, keep taking the pay cheques and things can only get better. Perhaps.
Vicki

Dear Vicki,
I am a non-league footballer and I recently had to leave my club after a publicity stunt during a televised match which involved my eating a pasty. As I am somewhat heavier and somewhat older than most goalkeepers, do you think I'll be able to get another job?
WS, Sutton
Dear WS,
Almost anyone can get a job, it's just about what work and pay you'll accept. So. for example Sunday-league footballers can go on for as long as referees will allow zimmers and on the pitch, and interns don't get paid at all. But perhaps your new-found celebrity could be used to your advantage. Now that you're as qualified as most of the relatively unknowns who get on it, have you ever considered 'I'm a Celebrity'? I'm sure that you're just the sort of person they'd be looking for, even if that rope bridge may need beefing up.
Vicki

Annual Struggle Well Under Way

Annual Struggle Well Under Way



The view fromWAGGA MOON




Well we are back in our annual relegation fight and once again hoping for the two teams at the bottom to do worse than us in the run-in. Nothing much has changed with our new owners and new manager, with the same old faults not having been rectified and our squad as poor as it has been for a few years. 

Dave Jones's record was about the same as Paul Murray's when he was sacked and to think Jones could have had a win in his first match if he had taken charge as he was paid to do and not sit in the stand and let Sam Collins do the job. Only to claim the glory for it a couple of days later. A bit like John Terry being suspended for a Champions League final only to to get his kit on when Chelsea won it and pose for the photos as if he had played a major part in the win.
"The win against Crewe will mean nothing if we can't follow it up with a win against Exeter."

However Jones got off the mark in style with a 4-0 home win over fellow strugglers Crewe. I am sure I am not the only one a bit hacked off with our beloved chairman coming out with more and more bullshine which he is failing to deliver on. Big signings in January missed out on, loan signings to be brought in and then plenty of free agents waiting to be signed up. And what do we get. A few no-marks going OUT on loan and not enough players on the substitutes' bench. And when Foxy Coxy was questioned on why this should be, his response was "that's a question for the manager". Maybe he should be asking it as it was he who employed the chap. But perhaps he is still on the lookout for more bumps in the road.

Our chairman appears to be late paying the tax man and late paying the players and late informing the fans that one of the owners had done one with the season ticket money, allegedly. After the secret society that Bodgecroft reigned over this was supposed to be an open and transparent period in the club's management. But on the important matters of the club's future the silence from Coxy is deafening.

It is unfortunate the young kid from Sunderland, Andrew Nelson, got himself injured and has had to return to his parent club. The injury to Matthew Bates has shown the folly of selling Toto Nsala and not replacing him. We certainly got lucky in switching Brad Walker there and finding a diamond on first impressions. Far, far better than Sicknote Bates and anyone else on the staff.

Young Kenton Richardson, thrown in at right back, has not let anybody down and an experienced tough-tackling midfielder (we can't keep relying on powder puff Featherlite) and a reliable goal scorer would finally pull us away from the dead men at the bottom of the table.

The win against Crewe will mean nothing if we can't follow it up with a win against Exeter. As you said Coxy, there are plenty of free agents out there looking for a club. Get your cheque book out and spend some of the cash you said was available in January. Or has it all gone to the taxman? 

Sherlock

David Beckham - A Critique

David Beckham - A Critique

(euphemism for hatchet job)


by JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO




Oh, how I laughed when it was revealed that David Beckham (Mofih*) was caught throwing his designer toys out of his designer pram when he was not granted a knighthood in the recent new year's honours list due to ongoing concerns about his tax affairs. 

The awards system is far from perfect, but how can a celebrity like David Beckham be considered for a knighthood over a real hero like George Johnson, the last surviving Dambuster who put his life on his line for his country, whereas Beckham never put in a full shift in for his country. (In reality the powers that be probably would not put George Johnson's name forward for fear of upsetting the Germans further - don't mention the wars, the 1966 World Cup or Brexit!)

The contradictory irony is that his unsmiling missus is to get an OBE, for services to the fashion industry. Bizarre. (Which is where I would expect to find many of her products in a bring and buy bizzare Bazaar.)

Free kicks and unmarked crosses and corners aside I have never rated Beckham as a footballer whatsoever. On the plus side I will give him credit though that in his youth he practised endessly, all hours of the day and night with his free kick and corner taking technique, that he honed to perfection. On the debit side it is a pity that he did not have a go at practising dribbling skills and taking his man on or even basic tackling.

With respect to his lack of pace, in fairness there is little or nothing he could have done to improve that. We will never know if he could head a ball as I have never seen him do this, probably because he did not want to get his hair messed up. To me he was just a show pony, a self made product with this 'Look at me, it is all about my image' attitude. Sir Alex Ferguson hit it on the head when he asked Beckham if he wanted to be a great footballer or a famous footballer. I am guessing he went with his wife's choice on that one.

To his credit Beckham recently on his own admission stated that he was never one of the all-time greats. In my book he is not even one of the all time Okays.

He did not annoy me that much when he was playing for Manchester United as he was surrounded by quality players who could allow for his limited ability. It was his performances for England that used to and still do rankle with me. I cannot argue that he did have a few decent games for England but when you have played for the national side on 115 occasions, the law of averages dictate that you will have some good games.
"We will never know if he could head a ball as I have never seen him do this, probably because he did not want to get his hair messed up."

It can be argued that he had seven more England caps than Bobby Moore. Maybe, but the difference being that 'THE' England captain played the full 90 minutes in all of his 108 appearances for his country and (unlike Beckham) was never subbed on or off, or sent off. Let's not forget the additional 30 minutes of extra time Moore played for the World Cup winning side in 1966 as well as the further 30 minutes of extra time in the 1970 World Cup quarter final in Mexico against West Germany). Someone once worked out Beckham's time on the pitch v Bobby Moore's and I can't recall the exact number but in real terms Beckham would have less than 100 caps to his credit.  Moore did not do three, four or five minute cameo appearances for his country as a substitute. The same could be applied to many, many other England greats such as Bobby Charlton.

Many people rave about the free kick from which he scored against Greece that enabled England to qualify for the World Cup in 2002. Despite it being his fourth or fifth attempt there is no doubting it was little short of superb. Mind if Dimi had been between the sticks for Greece on the day he would no doubt have tipped the effort over the bar, or in all likelihood caught it.

What people forget though, is that he was a member of the golden generation of English football. With the players available England should have done far better in the qualifying stages than having to rely on getting a draw against Greece in the first place. It was rumoured that David Beckham seemingly had more influence over Sven and the team than the England manager did over him or them. Beckham and Eriksson - what a combination!

Like many of his fellow countrymen who have played for England over the last few years Beckham failed to perform on the big stage when it mattered, Wayne Rooney being another example. Since 1875 to date only 13 players have been sent off whilst playing for England. Beckham and Rooney hold the joint record for being sent off twice for their country. Not exactly something to be proud of. I felt Beckham (Mofih*) above all let the nation down on a regular basis - yes he had his moments, but overall,when you run the rule over his World Cup record it is lamentable:
1998: Sent off against Argentina; Ten man England knocked out
2002: Jumped out of a tackle from which Brazil scored; England knocked out. 2006 Turned up unfit.

It would be churlish of me to say that his actions cost England two World Cups but he played a significant part in England's elimination in 1998 and 2002. Off the field he did not have much luck with the World Cup either when, along with David Cameron and Prince William, they failed to secure votes from team FIFA to hold the World Cup finals in England in 2018. One could however argue that Sepp Blatter 'bent it', but not like Beckham. More disappointment followed for Beckham when despite his creditable involvement with Seb Coe ...and Co in landing the successful bid for the 2012 London Olympics he was considered a dead cert to be picked for, and be captain of, the GB football team. It is fair to say that he had his self-inflicted ego spectacularly dented when GB manager Stuart Pearce failed to select him for his squad and told the media that Beckham was omitted purely for 'footballing reasons' which could also be interpreted as him being a distraction. Seb Coe to his eternal credit never once mentioned his disappointment about not being chosen to represent Great Britain in the 1,500 metres (1,640 yards and a bit) track event.

What now for Beckham? His advisors have probably told him to keep a low profile and polish his golden balls, and perhaps in twenty years' time he might be once again considered for a knighthood over someone more deserving.

Can you image the thought of having a Lady Posh. If, God forbid, he ever did receive a knighthood, I am sure that Posh would soon be pushing to have his name being put forward as King. Several years ago I recall seeing a fitting epitaph in a newspaper for David Beckham's playing career: "Totally unspoilt by failure".

In next month's edition of Monkey Business we look at who will fill David Beckham's ineffective role in the England set up. Don't miss our next critique: Raheem Sterling - Still going around in circles.

 *MOFIH = Most Overrated Footballer In History

What a Difference a Goal Makes

What a Difference a Goal Makes



Report by Ken (THE DITCHBURN) Cairns at the ex-Vic



Pools 4  Crewe 0  (League 2) Tuesday February 28th 2017




Ah yes – Crewe Alex, one of our old adversaries from my 50+ years as a Pools follower. One stand out memory from previous clashes with Crewe springs to mind. In the early 70’s we played against a Crewe side featuring the great Stan Bowles. We were pressing the Alex hard during our best spell of the game when attention suddenly turned to our own penalty area.

Our defender Malcolm Dawes* did not take too kindly to some close attention from the aforementioned Stanley and protested quite firmly - and very physically. He decked him – and I bet over the coming years a lot of players he tormented would have wanted to do the same. So we were attacking, gave away a penalty, Mally got sent off, and we lost!

Roll forward to 2017. The first half was a very tense affair with Pools having to absorb the majority of the pressure. It was another half where our play was more akin to that expected from the away team, with Crewe seeming quite a capable outfit but unable to deliver a finish.
"After 40 minutes there was no way I could have predicted that final score."

A shot deflected off Donnelly hit Fryer's far post and rolled away – maybe our luck is turning. One bright spot from Pools was that from our limited amount of possession I was quite encouraged by our increased willingness to have a shot – something which we have lacked as of late. And on the stroke of half time a quick Pools move resulted in a priceless opener, with Alessandra first to react to a deflection in the Crewe 6-yard box. I thought we were second best for much of the half and looked upon this lead as an unexpected but welcome bonus.

I expected the team who scored the next goal to go on and win the game – players of both Pools and Crewe have a tendency to lose goals in clusters when their heads drop. We began the second half with a lot more purpose and were restricting Crewe to occasional breakaways. And with 20 minutes to go substitute Padraig Amond worked hard to create an opening which he finished well.

Pools fans were relieved and the players were now playing with a bit of freedom and confidence. On 85 minutes young Richardson surged into the penalty area and in the resulting confusion Alessandra finished well. In added time Pools made it four. Nathan Thomas wriggled through two or three weak tackles and slotted the ball past the keeper. Full-time: Pools 4 Crewe 0.

Scanning through our player performances – my Man of the Match – Brad Walker. Credit to Fryer, Harrison, Woods and Alessandra. Substitute Amond livened things up front. I thought Kenton Richardson had a pretty torrid first half but was much more comfortable in the second. I also think now is the time to give him a rest.

Ref-watch: Scary US Marine-Like short-arse Richard Clark made some very odd decisions for both teams. Thankfully none of them had an effect on the score so I allow him a relatively decent 5/10 overall.

After 40 minutes there was no way I could have predicted that final score. We looked frightened to commit ourselves – probably down to low confidence – and this was the pattern for long spells of the first half. Thankfully Crewe weren’t good enough to take advantage. Credit also to the lads at the back.

After the opening goal we looked a different team, midfielders much more proactive and attackers threatening. Next up – Exeter City, another of our long established rivals.

* mentioned elsewhere in this edition

Funny Old Game

Funny Old Game

Another Week, Another Defeat

Another Week, Another Defeat



Match report by WALLACE & GROMIT at the Weston Homes Community Stadium



Colchester U 2 Pools 1 (League 2) Saturday February 25th 2017




This huge let down of a season trundles its way to a tense finale with Pools looking unlikely to do the great escape if either of the basket cases below us find a weaver with reeds, canes and willow to spare. If they do, then we are stuffed. 

I got my tickets from Kate at the Pools ticket office who was cheerful and efficient. Top quality customer service needs to be appreciated. The "Gaffer without the Gaffer tape", Dave Jones, set us up to not get beaten and for 60 minutes this pretty much worked.

I took Tim, an Ipswich fan who coaches a bit, along with me and he worked out that we were playing 4-1-4-1. We were pressing them fairly well in the first half, limiting them to hopeful punts over the top. The downside of this was that our 10 defenders left Amond to fight three centre-backs on his own. 0-0 at half time was the logical outcome of this stalemate. Sat in a windswept concrete arena (albeit one with clean toilets, efficient bar staff, friendly stewards and plenty of spare seats) you couldn't help but hope that the second half was going to be better.

I don't know which of the coaches pulled the tactical change over the orange slices, jelly babies and Woodbines at half time, but Pools sat right back and invited Col U onto them and for 20 minutes we waited for the inevitable Colchester goal. It came from the overlapping right back and The Beanpole With Big Hair who were the most likely candidates for danger. They had been effectively subdued earlier but after the break when we retreated to the edge of our box and left Amond on his own in the other half, we looked weak.

Shortly afterwards, Guthrie, The Beanpole With Balance Problems, fell over in the box and earned a soft penalty. 2-0 to the home side with what was a pretty effective penalty it has to be said. At this point the Gaffer tape came out and two of our weakest players went off - Oates and Alessandra. We switched to 4-4-2 and were back in control. Two Pools fans went to leave the stadium 10 minutes from the end saying that as we hadn't had a shot for 80 minutes we were unlikely to have two in the last 10. They weren't even down the stairs to the front when Nathan Thomas burst into the box and stroked an absolute beauty of a shot into the corner of the net. Game on!
"The last 10 minutes saw an absolute belter of a performance from Nathan Thomas"

Pools roared back into life until The Beanpole With Weak Legs fell over and begged for help. Given his earlier performance neither Pools (to loud boos) or Col U (to even louder boos) kicked the ball out until the ref stopped things because the lad was now clearly in trouble. A 7 minute delay saw him stretchered off with what looked like a nasty injury which I hope he recovers from quickly.

This is a real issue with footballers, they feign injury so much that when it actually happens nobody believes them. This delay helpfully broke up our flow and after the restart it all fizzled out. I do hope the injury was not really clever bit of deceit.

The last 10 minutes saw an absolute belter of a performance from Nathan Thomas. Just back from injury and stopping to stretch what looks like a knackered hamstring every couple of minutes, he ran Colchester ragged and set up and took chance after chance. Despite being left footed he was played out on the right and seemingly only given licence to attack once we were two down.

There was evidence of defensive organisation about Pools, the high pressing in the first half was good but the completely passive display until the we were two down was really poor. We had no plan going forward, leaving 20 yards between Amond and the other 10 players for lots of the game. We had no plan to pick up any knock downs, weak clearances or what I think is called "second phase ball".

We were impressed with Fryer's distribution and shot stopping (apart from one comedy howler with a back pass). Richardson looked out of his depth and seemed to be identified by the home team as our weak link as most of their attacks went down his side. Donnelly tackled robustly but offered nothing going forward into the acres of space they left him to exploit, which he failed to do.

Brad gave a solid display in the centre, Scott Harrison too looked largely untroubled. Featherstone, Alessandra and Oates in the middle were far too ponderous with their movement and passing and were often caught in possession or playing sloppy balls to the other team. Most of our defence and midfield were guilty of weak under hit passes, passes straight to Col U players or passes behind runners.

Woodsy oozed class throughout, playing great passes, making solid tackles and looking truly composed in the congested centre of the park. Thomas exploded into life at the end when he was allowed to but looks to have injured himself in the process, but you can't fault his effort - he fought like a dog for us. Amond was, as young people say "Meh". Mind you, I doubt there are many who would get any change from three defenders including the brick outhouse called Elokobi, who was just immovable.

Tactically, I think we got it wrong. Colchester are not great and when we attacked them, they looked a bit of a mess. We did not send any runners up for the attacks and when Amond got the ball, there was nobody within miles to support him. Walker, Harrison, Thomas and my Man-of-the-Match Woods came out of it with some style, the manager and the others less so.

We are going to have another exciting season end, playmates!

Lucky to Get Nil

Lucky to Get Nil


Match report by JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO at Field Mill


Mansfield Town 4 Pools 0 (League 2) Saturday February 11th 2017



In fairness we were lucky to get nil. 

I was a bit concerned prior to going to Mansfield due to the predicted weather forecasts threatening a big freeze - snow drifts and treacherous driving conditions. 'Stay at home unless your journey is necessary' yelled one headline from the national press. How come we get the weather forecasts so spectacularly wrong in this country?

Nonetheless my mate and I set off for Nottinghamshire and despite the incessant rain we had a very pleasant journey down to Mansfield home of ...er, mmm... Mansfield, and getting parked up quite near to the ground. This was my second ever trip to Field Mill and it was a good eighteen years since I was last here. My first visit to Mansfield made a lasting impression on me, that was until I had been to Luton - Mansfield was probably the worst town that I had ever visited in Britain. I am sure on the 'Welcome to Mansfield' roadside sign it had had the legend 'Twinned with Chernobyl' written on it. Their fans on that occasion seemed a bit Leeds-like (Neanderthal was the word I was looking for but Leeds is easier to spell), throwing bottles and glasses at Pools supporters who in fairness reciprocated in the local pub that we were in at the time.

I must admit that since my last visit the surrounding area had improved greatly, albeit with retail parks and shopping malls rather than any worthwhile architecture, but improved it has. With an hour or so to kill before kick off we asked a passing Stags fan where was the best place to get some liquid refreshment, and he told us to steer clear of the local pub down the road as, in his own words it was "full of lunatics and Karokee", and suggested that we would be better off at the supporters' club at the ground and as such we took his advice.

The place was heaving and it was several degrees warmer than a sauna, no wonder they were selling so much beer. Then the Leeds syndrome kicked in. A passing Poolie negotiating his way back to his seat from the bar with his pint, said politely 'Excuse me' to this big unit and squeezed past him. 'Who are you pushing?' came the retort. 'I did say excuse me.' 'There's no room for me to move'. (If he'd lost a few clem a bus would have got past him). 'I did say excuse me' which I backed him up with. 'There's no room'. Fortunately this unit's son told his six-foot- odd Dad/Grandad to calm down. I feared it would kick off a fight between two pensioners that would have been a first in my book. I felt like saying something to the Big Ape myself but a combination of not getting involved, why bother and cowardice got the better of me. I wouldn't mind but this clown must have been near sixty year old and was looking for some chew and being awkward for awkward's sake. When I think on, the last couple of occasions when Mansfield have turned up at the Vic they have had a nasty streak about them. Small town mentality chip on their shoulder I guess. Fortunately these 'Chorbers' are a declining spiecies.

It took an age to gain entry into the ground as the humourless stewards were virtually strip-searching the away fans as they accessed to the turnstiles. The ground itself has changed beyond all recognition since I was here last, watching Peter Beardsley getting subbed early in the second half and being afforded a standing ovation from the Mansfield fans as he left the pitch, not for his performance on the day, which was poor, but because of his being who he was and that he had once played for England. If my memory serves me correctly that was his last game in a Pools shirt.


The ground itself is a three-sided affair with three impressive sized stands. With its layout it could be still classed as a traditional ground as opposed to these breeze block stadiums that are the norm today, think Scunny /
Northampton / Donny etc. Nowadays the away end is behind the goal and good views, as well as excellent Bovril were to be had.



When I was last here in 1998/99 season the away fans were housed in the stand at the side of the ground, which is still there ...and boarded up. I have seen some strange stands at football grounds in my time: the stand behind the stand at Fleetwood (or it could be the stand in front of the stand at Fleetwood), the double glazing showrooms / conservatories at Luton, and no stands at all at Donny's old Bell Vue ground. But a boarded-up stand I have never seen the like of before. It genuinely looked like a pigeon loft. I also recall that the stand on the other side of the ground had a roof on it that looked like a giant upturned barge *. I wondered at the time was this where Noah beached his ark and the animals left two by two ...directly to the Mansfield supporters' club for something to 'chew' on.
"It was at that stage that I actually considered walking out of the ground and heading off home"

 From the start you could tell it was going to be another tough away encounter as the majority of Mansfield players towered over their Hartlepool counterparts. Taking nothing away from Mansfield they were far and away the better team but Pools made them look like world beaters. All four goals came from errors of their own making by Pools, basic schoolboy / girl errors in fact.

Goal number One: 
Harrison got skinned for pace. Cross came in. Bates did not react. Back of the net.
Goal number Two:
Bates caught in possession, a cardinal sin for someone of his so-called Premiership pedigree, allowing their winger to go one-on-one with Bartlett. Back of the net.
Goal number Three:
Mansfield forward runs at Pools' midfield. Turned Walker as if he wasn't there ...he wasn't there all afternoon, if truth be known. Bangs 25 yard shot which to my mind Barlett should have tipped round the post / saved as a matter of course. Back of the net.
Goal number four:
Mansfield winger flies down the left wing totally unchallenged. Cross comes in. Unmarked and unchallenged, centre forward heads it from distance. Again, Barlett should have done better but same result. Back of the net.

Once again, barring Amond, who came off injured, no fight, no bottle. Featherstone and Walker might as well have stayed at home. The former is permanetly stuck in reverse gear. Awful performance from the midfield. Any time Pools got possession they promptly gave the ball back to Mansfield. Bates and Harrison had horror show games; their lack of pace is alarming. The worst bit was when Pools gained a corner. It was taken short by Walker (?) and instead of passing to his team mate a few feet away he promptly passed it to a Mansfield player who then tear-arsed down the wing with it. You could not make it up.

It was at that stage that I actually considered walking out of the ground and heading off home. Instead I reminisced on the enjoyable cup of Bovril that I had had earlier. Should I have another? Then I got to wondering when was the last time that I had previously had a Bovril. Ayresome Park was the answer. Then I moved on to the economics of it all. That if it cost £2 for a Bovril and £2.50 for a bottle of Heineken at Mansfield, the profit margin on the Bovril (and tea for that matter) compared to what is been made on the bottle of lager must be absolutely colossal. Whilst these thoughts were going through my mind Mansfield scored their fourth goal.

I had previously been forewarned not to leave my car in the club's car park as apart from the £5 charge it is a nightmare to get out of. Nightmare is not the word I would have used. Total utter anarchy would be more appropriate. Vehicles strewn all over the shop and I am sure that there were cars still stuck in here from the previous home match trying to get out. We merried our way back up North and stopped off at Wetherby at the Whaler for fish and chips, a portion of curry and some scraps, which were absolute lush.

In order to shelter from the incessant rain and keep our Haddocks dry (Oo err missus), we took shelter in a pub doorway and got chatting to a lad from a Tyneside rugby club whose coach (bus not trainer!) had stopped off on their way home to catch the England - Wales six nations match on TV. We had a bit of banter with him which was in total contrast to that 'k--b' that we encountered in Mansfield's supporters club earlier in the day. I actually told him in all honesty that if I had my time over again that I would in all likelihood follow the egg chasing sport rather than football. Different type of people and values.

To sum up. An all-round rotten day, only saved by the Bovril and fish and chips, and in truth the majority of people we encountered in Mansfield were just fine. Also sadly in truth, Dave Jones will have his work cut out keeping this shower in League Two.


* In fact that old stand referred to was second-hand, having previously been at the Hurst Park Racecourse until its closure in 1962, and always looked oddly huge at Field Mill. Ed.

New Lads Lifted the Side

New Lads Lifted the Side



Report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic



Pools 1 Yeovil 1 (League 2) Saturday February 4th 2017




It was a good start from the new look Pools side today and we had two debutant players on board, Rooney and Nelson, who looked as if they could make a difference to our season if all goes well. 

Both the new lads contributed far more than some of the regular players. The old Pools legend Gabbiadini said somewhere that Pools are in for a treat when they add this Nelson to the team, he was right. He looks the part and played some good stuff today, which was refreshing to see. Also Rooney proved to be a real handful. Rooney set up Amond who made a clever chip over the top which beat every one but it landed on top of the net.

Bates made a good block on the line as the visitors looked dangerous at the set pieces. Their game plan was to bully us out of the game, especially their tall centre forward Eaves who put himself about all through the game, grappling and wrestling his way through the field. He had the ability to hold the ball and won a lot of headers as he towered over all of our back line, but he was rubbish in front of goal.
"I am sure that Jones could make a decent side out of the squad he has. But will he have enough time?"

Nelson won a free kick on the edge of the box as he was flattened on a run, but we never take any real advantage of dead ball situations. Alessandra made a good run down the flank and I thought his shot skimmed off the cross bar but I was at the other end. Walker had a poor game but made one decent tackle in the first half to keep it all square. He was not at his best today and some casual flicks and mis-placed passes left us under threat at times. It was a decent first half and I thought Pools just shaded it.

Nelson linked up with Rooney early in the second half when a lovely ball through by Nelson found Rooney who made some good moves to earn a shot at goal but the visiting keeper managed to block his shot. He was thwarted too by a defender after slipping the ball past the keeper - his effort was blocked by a defender.

Amond scored a magnificent header after a run by Nelson who sent in a brilliant cross that gave Pools a much-deserved lead. The two new lads were keen to help and this may have been our downfall as the visitors pulled one back to take a point. It was a shame that Nelson, defending deep,  got involved in the box and was penalised. Matty Dolan stepped up to score against his old side, sending Bartlett the wrong way.

Thomas came on to try and push the lads on but he could hardly hold onto the ball, as he looks far from his best. The visitors looked the better side in the closing stages as Pools ran out of ideas and steam. Bartlett redeemed himself with a great save late in the game to at least keep us a point when he pushed a strong Dolan free kick round the post.

The new lads lifted the side but as I said earlier some of the side did not compete, but I am sure that Jones could make a decent side out of the squad he has. But will he have enough time?

Any Other Business

Any Other Business



MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up




POOLS' FINANCES

There hasn't been much change in Pools' situation this month except that they survived the third winding-up petition, but the chairman's opinion that a winding-up petition is comparable to a final demand for a utility bill would seem to be a bit bizarre. 

And the folding of the chairman's employment business, the organisation we were told had acquired Pools from IOR, is similarly dismissed as an organisational thing. We know that sharp businessmen and accountants can do things we mere mortals wouldn't dream were possible, but there still seem to be enough ominous signs to keep us all worried, even without Pools being one place from relegation.



BRAD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS

It's been good to see the miraculous re-invention of Brad Walker as a centre-half. And it probably needed an outsider like Dave Jones to see that the idea had potential.

When he made his mark in the first team as a midfielder Brad was young and not very tall, but the following season he had grown quite a bit and he's been less successful in midfield ever since. And perhaps everyone at the club, and most of the fans, have been thinking we had a tall midfielder who wasn't quite fulfilling his midfield potential, rather than a midfielder who looked like a centre-half.
Ok, so he was only thrown into the back four out of necessity, but if ever there was a cloud with a silver lining, this was it. So well done Dave Jones. And well done Brad! 



I WAS MONTY'S DOUBLE

A meeting took place recently between a Poolie legend, Malcolm Dawes, and a Monkey Business legend, Billy's Contract. I say a meeting, but it appears to have been more than that (how many meetings last eight hours?), and the result is that you'll be reading reams and reams in these pages next month.

But as a taster, here's a little story and a big picture, both featuring Mally and Sunderland goalkeeping hero Jimmy Montgomery.

Jimmy Montgomery (l) and Malcolm Dawes (r)
Not that Malcolm Dawes is counting but he has been mistaken for the former Sunderland goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery on no less than twenty six different occasions.

At a recent reception Mally approached Monty and told him about constantly being taken for him and people asking for his autograph. Mally then asked Monty if he had ever been mistaken for Malcolm Dawes. "Just the twice", came the reply.



AND FINALLY...

A few comments from Neil Warnock, who is probably the manager who is the nearest we have in that regard to fellow ex-Poolie Brian Clough, especially now that Mourinho has gone a bit soft of late. 

Rather than a minute’s applause, Neil wants a minute’s booing up and down the country when he dies.

He has certainly not been afraid to ruffle feathers at various clubs. He once famously said he’d like to take over at Sheffield Wednesday – just so that he could get them deliberately relegated.

Another less controversial quote: "At 2-1 down, I was wondering what I was doing here at the age of 68. At 3-2 up, I remembered why I do this for a living."

Chips


February 03, 2017

MB157 - February 2017

It's Not All That Bad!

It's Not All That Bad!



GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY looks on the bright side





To look at Social Media you’d think the world had come to an end because we didn’t sign anyone in the transfer window. I’ve always considered that the two transfer windows are no more than FIFA-inspired nonsense – and in some ways we’re better out of them. (So far as the latest transfer window is concerned the only advantage in it is that it will replace Donald Trump as the main source of interest on Radio 5). 

Of interest to Poolies was the transfer to Shrewsbury of Toto Nsiala and that came at the start of the window. However, it was those who didn’t go that should cheer us up. When Trevor Carson was left out at the end of the year everyone assumed he was on his way; and then there was the future of Nathan Thomas. He was another one destined to go but his serious injury at Barnet on 29th October put paid to any chance of him leaving. It now seems that he’s working his way to full fitness and that should help Pools achieve a reasonable position at the end of the season.

After the Stevenage game, there were those who were looking to the play-offs; one week later, after a 3-1 defeat at Newport County it was relegation staring is the face. Dave Jones isn’t going to work miracles with a squad that has weaknesses. I see his aim to keep us in the Football League and then build up a squad of his own choosing and getting rid of the dead wood.
"Dave Jones isn’t going to work miracles with a squad that has weaknesses."

We are fortunate to have acquired the services of an experienced manager – the last time we chose a similar boss was Danny Wilson. Could lightning strike twice in the same place? Let’s hope so! Even then, there were complaints that he’d had no experience at League Two level.

Marvellous isn’t it? Pools’ interest in the FA Cup finished on 4th December when we were dumped out of the competition by Port Vale. The main focus of interest last week was the number of weakened teams put out by bog-standard Premier League teams – and, of course The Mags. What puzzles me, though, is that if the FA Cup is losing its interest why is the final played on Saturday evening to attract overseas viewers? Importantly, of course, the game finishes too late for many fans to get home by train. Of course, the real problem is a lack of leadership from the FA – something I touched on in last month's MB.

 Well, well, well. It looks as though a club from the bog standard Premier League has finally met its match and it’s the rugger home of Twickenham that’s done it. While Stamford Bridge is being redeveloped, Twickenham had been earmarked as a possible temporary home for Chelsea (up to three years); however the RFU have guaranteed that the club will not be allowed to play there. The local MP for Twickenham, Dr Tania Mathias, wrote to the RFU in the following terms: “Following the decision by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to approve plans for Chelsea’s new stadium, I am writing to you to re-state my position that I do not support Chelsea FC being based, temporarily or otherwise, at Twickenham. My opposition …is based on concerns regarding increased problems for local residents such as match-day traffic, an increase in litter, public urination and other anti-social behaviour.”

Oh dear, I always thought that Chelsea had the poshest supporters!!

Out with the Old and in with the New

Out with the Old and in with the New


BILLY'S CONTRACT




It is always the same isn't it. A manager is given the old heave-ho by his club and his replacement comes in and gets a result. Much the same happened when Sam Collins took over as caretaker manager following Craig Hignett's departure from the club. Not only did Collins' side get a win on the day, against Stevenage, but the style of football differed,  not forgetting a change of personnel, particularly on the bench. 

It's apity Craig Hignett did not tap into some of big Sam's ideas - he might still be here. From the half dozen or so games Collins has had over the years as a caretaker boss (I think his record is five wins a draw and one defeat but I stand to be corrected on that),  which is pretty impressive to say the least. Based on that alone he had to be one of the bookies' favourites for the role of permanent Hartlepool manager.

On this occasion I was pleased that the job went to Dave Jones (yet another bloody Scouser), purely and simply because of the precarious situation in which Pools once again find themselves, and much as when Ronnie Moore joined the club an external appointment needed to be made, a fresh pair of eyes so to speak, and with contacts throughout the game. Having said that I think it is only a matter of time before Collins gets his chance in management.

After the welcome two nil win against our bogey side Stevenage the media were all going crazy about the performance that the team put in and how it might now be no longer be necessary to dip into the transfer market after all due to the untapped talent within the club.

I was not comfortable with all this hype, particularly the match ratings which the Mail handed out after the Stevenage victory, which would have been seen as over-generous even to the Liverpool side that pulled back a three-nil deficit against Milan in the Champions League final known as The Miracle of Istanbul. Most of the Pools players were awarded an 8 but Rhys Oates, who was rightly acclaimed as Man of the Match, was given a 9. He was good but not that good. If he had not missed the penalty would he have been awarded a 10?

Brad Walker had a reasonable game but came off after an hour and he was given an 8 or a 9 as well. Unbelievable Jeff. It has to be said that 'Pools did play a lot better than in previous matches and for a change we beat a side that was worse than ourselves. Let's not forget that Stevenage hit the woodwork twice and missed two open goals so the win was not as comfortable as it looked.
"the pitch looked as if it had held the Welsh Heavy Horses Ploughing Championships the night before"

Dave Jones got to see the real Pools the following week down at Newport. Yes, perhaps the game should never have been played and the pitch looked as if it had held the Welsh Heavy Horses Ploughing Championships the night before but it is the same for both teams. Some argued that it was an advantage for the home side but I don't accept that as Newport had signed twelve players during the transfer window and many of them had not seen, let alone set foot on that pitch before the game with Pools.

Basically they were a bigger and more physical side and bossed and bullied Pools. You only have to look at Newport's second goal where they had three free unchallenged headers before the ball went into the back of the net. No Pools player got close or even attempted to get close. 'Men against boys' should have been The Mail's headline on the sports page on Saturday night.

Dave Jones's number one remit is to retain Pools league status and I am sure if he does this he will then be given a contract. Even at this early stage I am sure that Jones has already made his mind up about a few of the players in his squad and no doubt has pencilled a few names down on the end-of-season free transfer list. 

If I were in Dave Jones's shoes I would be absolutely brutal about which players I would let go; I no longer have time for sentiment. In fact it would be quicker and save time if I listed those players that I would keep: Carson, Bartlett, Donnelly, Amond and, if he is still here at the end of the season, Nathan Thomas.
I would cut the size of the squad down by a third and go for quality rather than quantity. I think only Chelsea have a bigger squad than Pools and they are in the Premiership for goodness sake. With these savings and the money we get in for Nathan Thomas I would bring in some tall, quick and experienced players and one or two nasty lads.

If possible I would try to bring in Sean Kavanagh on a permanent deal. He is one of the few actual footballers that we currently have at the club but I think he could find a club a division or two above Pools. Anyway let's see what happens next Saturday and bring on Yeovil Town, another one of our bogey teams whom we have only beaten twice in our last ten meetings. Still, records are there to be broken.

Funny Old Game

Funny Old Game


More Bumps in the Road

More Bumps in the Road


WAGGA MOON is happy despite the bumps




So our chairman changed his mind and went from saying Craig Hignett's job was safe to giving him both barrels after Christmas. This appears to have happened after he spent the previous week discussing the manager's job with various candidates. 

Of course it was the right decision and Hignett's record as manager was abysmal. In the Bobby Moncur, Colin Cooper and Mick Docherty bracket. The trouble is he has overloaded the squad with players who are not fit for purpose and given us one of the biggest squads in the league.
"If he is half as good as people tell me he is we are on to a winner"

The size of the task facing new manager Dave Jones was made abundantly clear when we were shafted 3-1 at the bottom club. It could and should have been more as the spineless bunch of ragamuffins capitulated without any sort of fight.

 I applaud Gary Coxall's decision to appoint Jones as it makes sense to appoint someone who understands the job and not some rookie with no experience, i.e. the cheap option as favoured by our previous regime under Mr Bodgecroft. There are plenty of rumours circulating about the club's finances or lack of them and the consensus appears to be we haven't got a pot to piss in. Allegedly three winding up orders from the tax man and the chairman borrowing money from the business equivalent of Wonga.

The BIG January announcement he talked of before Christmas failed to materialise and he himself is talking of "more bumps in the road" before the end of the season. Certainly there doesn't appear to be any money around to buy any players at the time of writing just before the transfer window is about to slam shut.

We are certainly not clear of the relegation pack as Newport and Notts County are starting to get their acts together. This despite what our acting captain Nicky Featherlite is saying this week: that we are 12 points off the play-offs and that is what we are aiming for. Clearly this little halfwit will never get a place on Mastermind but it is how he gets a place in Pools team that is the biggest mystery. He couldn't tackle a fish supper.

Getting back to something important our new manager is hopefully going to do big things for us. I have friends in Cardiff and have worked in the city and all I hear is good reports about Dave Jones. If he is half as good as people tell me he is we are on to a winner.

It's Not Rocket Science - Oh, It Is!

It's Not Rocket Science - Oh, It Is!


JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO




Albert Einstein is recorded as having once said something about 'Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results',  which in itself is a fitting epitaph for Craig Hignett. 

I admit I was delighted when Gary Coxall appointed Craig Hignett as manager but I have to say I was equally delighted when he left the club, if for nothing more than to keep the damage down to a minimum and giving someone else the opportunity to repair or carry out a 'bodge' job on the damage already done.

By his own admission Hignett agonised over formations and team selections and on numerous occasions he would put square pegs into round holes to accommodate the player rather than have the team balance right. Some of his statements were also worrying such as when he said that 'We are not looking over our shoulders at the teams below us'. I required smelling salts when I first heard that as I recalled the previous season the Tranmere manager saying near enough the same thing when Rovers had a little run going for them and they climbed a couple or three places away from the relegation spots, only for them, a few weeks later, to be overtaken by Ronnie Moore's Rasta army and Tranmere stayed rooted to the bottom of the league for the rest of the season.

Pools are now in a similar situation to that Tranmere were in at the time of their manager's boast and like then the majority of teams below us are starting to pick up a little bit of form and most of them have a game in hand over Pools (Accrington have two), so complacency is the last thing that we need at the club.
"what makes this more worrying is that some of the teams that beat us were very poor indeed"

The other thing that raised my hackles was when Craig Hignett and indeed some of his players said on several occasions in the media that 'There is little to separate the sides in this division and anyone can beat anyone.' However, Pools did not seem to be in the business of beating anyone on a regular basis. At the time of writing our defeats are almost double our wins and what makes this more worrying is that some of the teams that beat us were very poor indeed.

At the risk of repeating myself (see back issues of The Bizz) it was Hignett's style of football which boiled my pee. Always, always sideways and backwards and on many occasion a promising attack on the edge of the opposition's penalty box would end up with the ball being passed back to Trevor Carson. Allied to this was the 'all eleven men' back tactic when defending a corner, without one Pools player loitering with intent on or about the halfway line in an attempt to pick up a clearance or at the very least occupy the attention of a couple of defenders and prevent them from pushing forward.

We had this week in and week out. It was like Groundhog Day. The same thing over and over again, played without pace or incisiveness but plenty of predictability so that even the poorest of our opponents had us sussed by half time.

In his last match as manager I watched as once again an attack fizzled out and the ball came back to the keeper. I turned round on the terrace and in desperation, and to my mates' astoundment and that of those behind me, I started pounding my hand on the crush barrier behind me and shouting 'No, no, no', which was more than Craig Hignett was doing.

It may well be that Hignett wanted to play a certain style of football but did not have the players to carry this off. That being the case he should have tried something different rather than proving Einstein's statement over and over again.

It is not as if it is exactly MC squared that we are talking about. Karanka at Borer is in the same mould - they stick to their principles, or have no other plan, or are just too plain stubborn to admit that they have got it wrong. Sadly, Craig Hignett, along with the likes of Colin Cooper and Paul Murray, are unlikely to get a first team management role again at league level and at best it will be a backroom/youth team coach job behind the scenes, due to their failure at the Elephant's graveyard that is better known as Hartlepool United.

Unlike New York, New York, If you fail here you can fail anywhere. Mr Einstein please note.