GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY gives his thoughts

Here we go and hope you enjoyed the close season and didn’t get too stressed out being dragged round the Metro Centre, Primark, Asda and other retail establishments

For me, the close season started off in style. On holiday in Oban, my mobile phone went off as my good lady and I were walking off the ferry terminal after visiting the Isle of Mull.It was my son and my immediate reaction was ‘Can’t he leave us alone when we’re on holiday?’ The subsequent conversation ran like this:

SON: Just thought I’d let you know that John Hughes and Mickey Barron have been sacked. 
ME: Flaming hell! You come away on holiday and the job goes to pot. Have Pools given any reason why they’ve been sacked?
SON: You what?
ME: See above (raising voice)
SON: You what?
ME: See above (raising voice even higher)
WIFEY: Will you keep your voice down. The whole damned ferry terminal doesn’t want to know that Pools have sacked their manager. 
Great Grandad Shouty was alive and well on Oban Ferry Terminal.

It all made for an interesting close season as Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett sought to get to grips with Pools’ biggest problems - a lack of goals and under performance of senior players. Whether they’ve solved the first problem is anyone’s guess but at least they seem to have some faith in the younger players who, at least, might put some pressure on the established squad. Obviously, expectations are high amongst some Poolies, particularly after bouncing straight back at the end of the 2006-07 season. 
"Well, we’ve got full time officials but has it solved any problems? If anything, it's got worse."

There are, however, differences between then and now. In the promotion season, we had proven goal scorers in Joel Porter and Jon Daly and then there was the inspired loan signing of Darryl Duffy. I have my doubts whether we’ll get promotion this season  -its going to be more of a consolidation season. The good news, of course, is that Scott Flinders will be staying and whilst we can’t rely on our keeper all the time to keep us in games, its at least a start to know he’s staying. 

One face which will, of course, be missing and that’s Ritchie Humphreys. He was a fantastic player for Pools but, sadly, all good things come to an end. There were some games when the old magic was there but in others he struggled, being caught in possession on a number of occasions - an example of this would be the final home game against Brentford.. With him signing for Chesterfield there’s a chance he could come back to The Vic - what’s the odds on him scoring against us? And so we prepare to visit League Two’s equivalent of the seven wonders of the world - Accrington, Burton, Fleetwood, Bury, Morecambe, Wycombe and Mansfield. Let‘s hope that we can manage to keep a clean sheet at Fleetwood - fancy hearing the strains of Captain Pugwash whenever they score a goal?

One club we won’t be playing this season are, of course, Coventry City. Although they’re still in League One, they’re having to ground share with a League Two club, Northampton Town. Well, they chased the dream and look where it got them! And then there’s Leicester City. If we do happen to get promotion this season what are the odds on us playing Leicester next season? You might wonder why I ask this. Well, in case you missed it, their new chairman is none other than Sir Dave Richards. Up to now he‘s buggered up everything he’s touched so there no reason to suppose he won’t be consistent. Watch this space. 

On to more mundane matters and its going to be a quiet time this season in the bog standard Premier League with no Fergie around to complain about referees and added time. The thing about refereeing is that for years part time referees were considered old hat and so there became a clamour for full time officials. Well, we’ve got full time officials but has it solved any problems? If anything, it's got worse. I’ve always believed that retiring players should be given the chance to be fast tracked on to the referees’ list and thus provide an alternative to coaching/management.  There’d be no problems with fitness, would there?  

I was once talking to a Poolie who watched Pools in the 1950s. At that time, there was a 5pm train to Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool and he said that you always knew if the referee was on that train. No added time and the referee was first off the pitch. Ah, those were the days!  

The main story has, of course, been whether Rooney will stay with Man United .Whether he stays or goes doesn’t matter to me but I’ll enjoy any Rooney jokes as witness the following: “The Rooney hating thing has gone too far. Outside Old Trafford there’s a guy burning small effigies of Rooney and selling them to fans. Oh, hang on, it’s a baked potato stand”.  Meanwhile, the clubs are dashing off to far flung places to earn extra money and sell more replica shirts. Aren’t our top players supposed to be playing too much football? Naturally, its all go for them in the transfer market - falling over themselves to sign foreign players we’ve never heard of. Its been said time and time again that this only undermines the national side. It's touch and go whether we’ll qualify for the 2014 World Cup and it will be no good the FA wringing their hands in despair. They played their part in creating the monster. 

Obviously, when there’s no footy, your mind turns to other sports and I  followed Andy Murray win Wimbledon and even watched the last hour of the Open golf which, of course, was won by Phil Mickelson. I couldn’t help but notice how Phil Mickelson celebrated - not a security guard in sight and as he waited for the tournament to finish went and signed autographs for the younger spectators and had a word with each of them after he signed. A credit to the game of golf - perhaps Phil Mickelson could be a role model for our Premier League footballers who think they’re untouchable and prefer to live isolated lives. Most of them would need a conductor or a butler to push the trolley round the supermarket.
Anyway, soon after we go to print we’ll know how we’ve done against Rochdale. Keep the faith but don’t raise your hopes too much . I was optimistic last season and look where that got us.