GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY on giving youth its chance

The result at Portsmouth was both unexpected and out of this world. To travel that distance and get a result must have warmed the cockles of the hearts of the two hundred or so Poolies who made the trip down there. The significance of the result for me was that two of the goals came from players under the age of twenty and this surely provides the one lifeline that might be available to us in escaping relegation to League Two.

Can John Hughes get the bit between his teeth and change his selection strategy? We can only hope and wait. In addition to Jack Baldwin and Greg Rutherford, we have of course Luke James who has hardly got a look in this season once he returned to full fitness. The one occasion when he was given a chance - against Stevenage - he caused their defence quite a few problems.

But what happened then? He was relegated to playing a bit part! Its quite probable that we've left it too late but what's the harm in gambling now? A change of strategy is worth the risk - after all, the young 'uns can't do any worse. This season has been all about late goals and, of course, a propensity to give away penalties. (We can't blame referees this season - on the whole they've been a good bunch of whistlers). If you add our inability to score goals then its not surprising that the Poolie faithful get despondent when the opposition score first. You know that the players' heads will go down and there's going to be no way back."A change of strategy is worth the risk - after all, the young 'uns can't do any worse."

Take the Preston game on New Year's Day. Preston were a crap side and could well accompany us into League Two. Yet, the only time Pools looked like scoring was when Scott Flinders made a foray into the Preston penalty area in added time.

I suppose that the one saving grace is that Pools are still a well run club - unlike Portsmouth and Coventry. There's still a possibility that Portsmouth may go into administration again thus getting a ten point deduction and this will mean Pools being no longer bottom of the league. Sounds harsh, but Portsmouth chased the dream and fell flat on their faces.

Another club in League One who are having problems are Coventry. They've been having difficulties in paying their rent and whilst they may have beaten us 5-0 at home at least Pools pay Hartlepool Council the rent on Victoria Park. Normally, my wife and I go down to the West Midlands to see our grand daughter and her partner and this always coincides with an away trip for Pools in this part of the world. This year, I'll be making my first visit to Coventry so let's hope we can get some revenge for the drubbing we received in the home game.
One bit of news in recent times which interested me was the fact that Jake Kean is now number one keeper at Blackburn. Remember him? He came to us on loan as a nineteen year old expecting to be the stand-in for Andy Rafferty. Yet, within days of arriving, a serious hand injury to Scott Flinders meant that he was pitched into the number one spot. And how he took the chance! Well done, Jake, may your career go from strength to strength.

Things, of course, have also been happening elsewhere and I suppose the highlight of the month was Bradford City's winning through to the League Cup Final. They became experts at winning penalty shoot outs as Pools found to their cost in the Johnson's Paint Trophy. Best of luck, Bradford, may you lift the trophy and get a spot in Europe.

Then, of course, there was Ferguson's rant about the non penalty against Spurs. Had Manchester United won 1-0 would we have heard any complaints against the assistant referee? The guy does more twittering than Dave, our grandsons' budgie, so put a sock in it and give us some bloody peace.
In some ways, footy is under some pressures from other sports - success in the Olympics, golfers doing well and Andy Murray proving that he has the bottle in Grand Slam tournaments. Its going to be interesting to see how clubs in the bog standard Premier League react to this challenge. People have to count their pennies these days and the response of clubs like Pools and Bradford City in offering cut price season tickets shows a great deal of reality. That can't be said of those top clubs who seem to think they're immune from all goings on in the wider world. Beware, nothing is set in stone.

Am I still showing some optimism about Pools? Its certainly been tested over the past few months but providing the selection policy is changed, you never know... My nightmare scenario is that we put together a decent run and go down in the last match of the season. Still that will have proved that some effort was made.