A Seat with a View


Since the last edition of Monkey Business we have seen Pools play five games losing three, drawing one and a solitary win against the very poor part timers of F.C Halifax Town who on the night had five first team regulars missing from their starting eleven.

Included in the debit column was the disastrous (both financially and performance-wise) FA Cup exit against Morecambe, who, prior to Pools turning up at the Globe Stadium, had not won at home in six matches and stood second bottom in the Football League. There to be taken - but not on Pools' watch.

In the National League we picked up a total of four points out of a possible twelve and if we include the Morecambe result, Pools have scored four and conceded eight. All in all not a good November for Craig Harrison.To be brutally honest, it was a bloody awful month for Craig Harrison.

Thanks to a kindly invite from a friend for a spot of lunch in the Michael Maidens hospitality suite for the Aldershot match, I left my usual spot in the  Town End for that of the seats of the Cyril Knowles. Here you see a totally different game altogether to that viewed from the terraces. It is almost like observing the moves on a chessboard. The trouble was that against Aldershot, Scott Loach apart, we had some terrible chess players and chess pieces alike. For several seasons now I have been a major critic of our midfield but seeing it in operation from the stands close up I did not fully appreciate how bad it is, or should I say how absent it is.
"Did I mention that the two centre halfs on the day looked like an accident waiting to happen - if not, they are."

There is a scarcity of creativity. Very little in the way of tackling or winning the first, let alone the second ball. Big gaps in the centre of the pitch, which Aldershot exploited with ease and at will.

Featherstone, whilst looking a tidy player when he has no opponents near to hand, to my mind is an unnecessary luxury. Viewed from the side of the ground, he looks chunky and his lack of pace is evident. During the match I noted that he passed the ball behind him on eight occasions. On another occasion from a Pools corner in an attacking position he received the ball in the Aldershot half and passed it almost 55 yards back to Scott Loach. From the resulting goal kick Aldershot regained possession and were back on the attack.

Twice, when Kenton Richardson was progressing upfield with the ball Featherstone motioned to the full back to pass back to the keeper. I am fairly certain that it was the first time this season that we have lined up at home in an attacking four four two formation. The problem was that the wide men were not providing crosses to the two strikers up front, primarily because the midfield was not supplying the ball to them at pace. Subsequently the forwards had to rely on, and the watching fans had to endure, long aimless balls punted up front from the full backs as in the days of yore of Cooper, Hignett and Jones.

My other concerns, apart from the disjointed performance, lack of shape, heart and effort, was that the players and the coaching staff alike barely communicate (take that as cajole shout and rollick) with each other. Did I mention that the two centre halfs on the day looked like an accident waiting to happen - if not, they are.

Once we went one-nil down the best anyone expected was a possible one-all draw but when Aldershot got their second it was evident,  due to Pools' lack of firepower, that there was not a cat in Middlesbrough's chance of getting any sort of a result.

Prior to kick off, over my salmon and salad starter, (not a prawn sandwich to be seen at the Vic!), I got chatting to a lad on our table and we were both of one mind that Pools had not played well all season, and that if it was not for Scott Loach we would be at the wrong end of the table and it was only a matter of time before we would be on the receiving end of a good thrashing, which Ebbsfleet obliged in providing the following Saturday.

Over a beer Billy's Contract Junior asked me, based on what I have seen so far this season, which of Craig Harrsion's permanent signings would I keep. My shout would be Loach, Cassidy and probably Munns. The rest are either not good enough or have yet to hit some sort of consistent form. He then asked me, if it was at all possible, his University education, or more than likely the Craft beer that he was drinking began to kick in, what would I think the result would be if the Pools team of last season played the Pools of this season. That is one to ponder. I would have said pretty much any side would have turned over the team of 2016/17 season and by a good margin to boot. However if this fantasy football match was indeed to take place it would be the worst goalless draw ever, but a satisfactory result for both sides.