Satisfactory - But Could Have Been Better


As 2014 dawns, its maybe a good time to take stock. After the depressing start to the season, most Poolies would have settled for a mid table spot at the turn of the year. Yes, it could have been better. Some games we’ve had to chase to get a point (Cheltenham and Burton spring to mind) and other games we’ve not turned superiority into goals.

Take the away game against Morecambe - although we took the three points, the BBC website neatly summed up the state of play:
On Target

There was only one area where Morecambe matched Pools and that was in the number of fouls - seven apiece. All this happened three days after a good performance against Ritchie’s All Star Eleven and even Chesterfield’s boss, Paul Cook, had complimentary things to say about Pools.

Certainly, a play - off spot isn’t beyond us but it does seem that after advancing one foot forward we tend to take one back. Still, a young team can only get better but there is obviously a question mark over the futures of Jack Baldwin and Luke James. According to a recent report in the Daily Telegraph, Sunderland are interested in Jack Baldwin and a fee of £500,000 was quoted with additional money based on appearances.

Sunderland have also been mentioned regarding Luke James and I suppose it’s a matter of time before he departs for pastures new. These two transfers will obviously blunt any push towards the play-offs if they leave in the coming transfer window, and the playing of Jonathan Franks in a strikers’ position would indicate Colin Cooper’s thinking in the event of a James departure. The news before Christmas that Middlesbrough will allow Christian Burgess and Matty Dolan to remain with us till the end of the season is good news. Mind you, Matty went on loan to Yeovil last season and finished up in a play off final. Could lightning strike twice in the same place?

"Sheffield Wednesday’s decision not to have a pay day loan firm as their shirt sponsors shows there’s some good decision making in the game"
One thing which Pools will have to look at is: who will Scott Flinders aim for when Andy Monkhouse is suspended? As it is, most of Scott’s goal kicks and set pieces are aimed for Andy Monkhouse out on the left and whilst this tactic doesn’t always come off there are times when attacks can get started. Unfortunately, Monkhouse has a tendency to collect yellow cards - he’s already had one suspension and his two at Chesterfield will mean another one.

The late goal against Morecambe brought back memories of the FA Cup replay when we were undone by Coventry in the last minute. One thing that struck me about that game was the attendance - just over 1,000. Take away the two hundred plus Poolies who were there and you have a gate of less than 1,000. Even Pools have never gone below 1,000 for League and FA Cup games. How Coventry are surviving is beyond belief and its evidence that a fans’ boycott is holding. Still, your fault Coventry - don’t blame anyone else.

A tragic event at Hibernian brought back unhappy memories for Michael Nelson. Just before Christmas, Hibernian’s 18 year old highly rated trainee, David Paul, passed away in his sleep and Michael Nelson told the Sunday Post: “I’ve experienced it before at Hartlepool when Michael Maidens, a 20 year old who had just broken into the first team squad, was killed in a car crash”. Michael Maidens’ memory lives on and Poolies will still remember him each year at Victoria Park. These tragic events bring everything into perspective.

Recent events in the bog-standard Premier League confirm that the world is a crazy place. The main story leading up to Christmas was, of course, the sacking of Malky Mackay by the Cardiff City owner, Vincent Tan. It mattered not that Cardiff were playing in the top tier of English football for the first time since Adam was a lad - it was just that he’d leaked personal correspondence. Which proves something I was once told: always be careful what you put in writing - you can’t deny anything!

Tan, of course, did away with tradition when he changed the colour of Cardiff’s strip - the reason given was that red was more identifiable with Malaya. I may stand corrected but the only other occasion when I recall a club changing its colours was Leeds United under Don Revie. His first action was to ditch the blue and old gold shirts and replace them with all white because he wanted Leeds to look like Real Madrid. At first, it looked like Leeds would end up in the third tier of English football and the change was greeted with some amusement as Real Madrid were winning everything before them.

Then, of course, we have the dick head at Hull City who wants to change the name of the club to Hull Tigers. Fortunately, he needs the approval of the FA to effect a change so let’s hope the guys running our beautiful game kick the idea into touch. Still, there are still some good things happening in the game; Sheffield Wednesday’s decision not to have a pay day loan firm as their shirt sponsors shows there’s some good decision making in the game.

Anyway, hope you’ve all recovered from Christmas. A Happy New Year to you all.