So that’s it. After the Torquay game its Played 5, Won 0, Lost 3 and Drawn 2. However, the big concern is that in those five games we haven’t scored a single goal.

Its not through lack of effort. We have a very capable midfield but everything seems to fall away in the final six yards. In the Fleetwood game, Steve Howard had a good game; good in the air, he would surely have been on the score sheet but for the brilliance of their keeper. Then there was the pass back to their keeper in the second half. Nialle Rodney had only been on the field a couple of minutes and it looked as though he might get to it but their keeper was able to clear. On a better day, Rodney would have been on the score sheet.

"So, how do we turn things around? I believe that Steve Howard must be the focus."
It's not that we’ve got good opponents to face.
Before the season started, Fleetwood were tipped as possible promotion contenders - forget it. Pools should have buried them without any great difficulty. So, how do we turn things around? I believe that Steve Howard must be the focus. Poolies are divided on his abilities but I belong to the camp that believes that Steve Howard has a big part to play in reviving our fortunes. Get the midfield players to arrive in the box to take advantage of his height and hopefully we may see some goals.

Visiting sides recognise Howard’s ability by close marking him yet he’s still able to win the ball. After all, if visiting sides are close marking Howard then they’re leaving someone else spare. Further recognition of Howard’s threat is the number of times he gets fouled.

Obviously, as our season’s start stutters, so some Poolies are looking at the worst scenario and dreading being relegated to the Skrill Premier League (I had to actually look that up - still call it The Conference). That’s a long way off and a couple of wins will see us shoot up the table. Colin Cooper has instilled the basics in terms of a good defence and midfield and he’s got to be given a chance to sort out the problem of lack of goals. Is there to be an opportunity in the loan market or can we sort it out in-house? Maybe Zak Boagey and Greg Rutherford can add some sharpness. 

Come to think about it, two of the goals conceded at home came about through mistakes. I really felt for Darren Holden in the Southend game - but credit where credit’s due. He put the mistake behind him and thereafter had a tidy game. If all else fails, we may have to rely on the weather. The recent warm weather has probably suited our visitors so let’s give our opponents a good old Hartlepool wind off the North Sea, along with freezing temperatures. I’d have to put on five layers of clothing but when you’re winning what does it matter? 

If you want to look on the bright side, don’t forget that at the start of the 2005-6 season we made a sluggish start to the season and look what happened. I’m not suggesting that this will happen again but there’s hope that we can get into a mid table position.

On to other matters. Last month, a part of Pools departed to The Pearly Gates on the death of Trevor Storer. Never heard of him? Well, he was the founder of the firm that provides half time sustenance at Pools, namely Pukka Pies. Thought the clubs who sell the product might have had a minutes silence for his contribution to full bellies. In his obituary, the Daily Telegraph reported thus, “They (Pukka Pies) are also popular fare at British football stadiums. Premier League customers include West Ham, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton (among other outlets is Rotherham United, whose fans are said to consume more meat pies per head than those of any club in England.) Bet you didn’t know that!

News also reaches me from the other side of the Atlantic that American Football fans are being prevented from bringing bags into NFL stadiums. Instead, they will only be allowed to bring in small airport-style clear plastic bags the contents of which can be easily seen by stewards. Here comes the crunch. The bags are official NFL merchandise and are available at club shops. Wonder how long it will be before the bog standard Premier League latch on to this one? Speaking of which, I heard the most pathetic interview with Richard Scudamore last month on the finances of the Premier League clubs who were lashing out transfer fees as though there were no tomorrow. The interviewer put it to Scudamore that the bubble could burst and that a lot of clubs would be in trouble; his response seemed to indicate that this could never happen. Beware, we didn’t think that banks would have to be bailed out - but they had to be. Give me the realities of Pools any day. Where I find a lack of reality is the Bale transfer saga. How were Real Madrid were able to pay out that amount when Spain’s economy is belly up?

Finally, it was great to see Rickie Lambert called into the England squad for the game against Scotland - and even better to see him score the winning goal. Lambert is another one of those players who were a pain in the butt whenever he came to Pools - along with Windass and Lee Hughes - but things are on the up and up for him and its great to see. Congratulations to Southampton for spotting home grown talent instead rather than bringing in overseas players.

Meanwhile, by the time the next MB appears we’ll have played the first round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Last season’s game against Bradford City was pitiful to say the least and led one Poolie in the Town End to shout out to the referee during the second half, “Blow the whistle for time, ref, and lets have the penalty shoot out so that we can get home”.