December 07, 2012

What A Month - and the Same Old Problems!


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY gives his take on things


Yes, November has been quite a month to forget. A 6-1 drubbing at Chesterfield which dumped us out of the FA Cup; a 5-0 thrashing at home to Coventry; and then a last minute defeat against Oldham. 

Then, of course, we appointed a new Head Coach in John Hughes and it certainly didn't take him long to realise what he'd let himself in for. It led one Poolie to ask if there might be a cooling-off clause in his contract. Some might think that the way we're shipping in goals at the back it is the defence that is the whole problem. It is certainly a matter for concern but not the whole story. It might surprise you that the goals against (37) isn't the worst in League One - that dubious honour belongs to Carlisle (38). Scunthorpe have leaked in 37 (the same as Pools) and Bury's tally against is 33.

The depressing reading, however, comes with the goals scored - a total of 15 and all the other clubs total in excess of 20, with some being in the 30s. There can be no doubt that Neale Cooper tried to address this problem, but to no avail. Loan signings of Ryan Noble and Charlie Wyke have failed to solve the problem and the only short term possibility might be Colin Nish who is, of course, on loan at Dundee. The suggestion is that Dundee might want to extend his loan but even if he came back to Pools there is no guarantee that things will improve. His style of play is similar to Steve Howard's - in other words, he needs players around to support him and that's not happening at the moment.

Last year, when we were in Scotland we were picked up by a Celtic-supporting taxi driver. The patter soon turned to footy and I explained that we only had one Scottish player in the ranks and that was Nish. He roared with laughter; obviously, Nish didn't have a good reputation in Scotland.

There are grounds for believing that there may be some optimism on the horizon. Andy Monkhouse is back to near full fitness; Tony Sweeney seems to be getting his confidence back - and hitting the net; and Luke James is now back in training. And, of course, as Evan Horwood proved against Walsall, we can hit the net from the penalty spot.
"Some Poolies have suggested that we've been punching above our weight for years but shouldn't we celebrate that fact instead of griping at every opportunity? "
All of Pools problems have, of course, been subject to comment in the Hartlepool Mail and some correspondents have been pointing the finger at IOR by suggesting that there is a lack of leadership at the club. Their role is to look after the business side of the club and appoint the management - in the former they have done very well but in the latter things haven't quite worked out. One correspondent even suggested that we need someone like the late Harold Hornsey - that is, someone who is born and bred in the town. I'm sorry but these kind of benefactors no longer exist and they aren't going to return.

Being an old fogey, I remember the time when Burnley were run by a wholesale butcher by the name of Bob Lord. His passion for Burnley was total and 'Butcher Bob' was never short of a comment, particularly if he was able to ruffle a few feathers. In one infamous match against The Mags, he complained that his players had been kicked from here to eternity and every Sunday newspaper carried his forthright comments - as well as showing the Burnley players carrying their bruises. On the Sunday evening, when Sunday Night at the London Palladium was on the go, Jimmy Tarbuck introduced two boxers and announced that the winner would be at home to Newcastle United. He brought the house down - the audience were obviously aware of the thoughts of Chairman Bob.

But for IOR, Pools would not have been an established League One club. Some Poolies have suggested that we've been punching above our weight for years but shouldn't we celebrate that fact instead of griping at every opportunity?

One thing I'm pleased about is Pools' attitude towards the payment of agents. I've always believed that these people are parasites who cling to the game to make their fortune. Some of the fees paid out to agents over the past year make horrifying reading - Manchester City (£10.5m), QPR (£6.8m) and Liverpool (£8.6m) Did all that money buy success? I leave you to look at the bog standard Premier League table and the tables for the Champions League. At least I know that my season ticket money will benefit Hartlepool United and not agents.

In the past, I've used words like 'optimism' and 'pessimism' and an article in one of my wife's magazines suggests that people who are instinctively pessimistic and bad tempered are liable to get nigh blood pressure. Don't say you haven't been warned!

This is, of course, the time of the year for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Its certainly going to be a star studded event but the main question is not going to be 'Who will win it?' but 'Where are they going to find room for footy?' I suppose Chelsea will get a mention for winning the Champions League but other than that the mind goes blank. Is there anyone left who can get a lifetime award?

Speaking of the BBC, I followed their coverage on the internet of Sunderland v Queen's Park Rangers on Tuesday, 27th November. The comment was made about the empty seats at the Stadium of Light and the compiler suggested that it was because of the quality of football that might be served up. Now, I don't go to the Stadium of Light but I know they're mad about their footy. Presumably the BBC hadn't heard that there were floods in County Durham and that a journey in those circumstances would not be deemed as necessary. Torrential rain was falling at Sunderland - so what's the point of going to a footy match and not being able to get back home after the game has finished?

Finally, as this is the last Monkey Business before Christmas, may I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a better 2013. I'll be sending the usual cards out but there's maybe one or two others I'd like to send. One would be to the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, containing pictures of all the Chelsea managers he's appointed. This would be to remind him of how not to run a football club. To the younger Pools fans I'd send a card of the old Clarence Road stand and the Cyril Knowles stand together with league tables of the 1960s and the past ten years. Just to prove how far Pools have come.

Happy Christmas everyone!!!