Let's Assume...


Assuming the proposed Raj Singh takeover takes place and assuming that Pools are not relegated. what happens next? 

Priority must be given to restructuring the club at every level from top to bottom to make it a successful business. On top of that there must be transparency and scrutiny on all income revenue and expenditure, and if in some cases it means cutting the cloth to fit the suit, let's get cutting.

Should the club go semi-professional until Football League status is regained? A difficult question. Eddie Kyle has gone on record as saying that he has seen numerous non-league part-time players who could walk into Pools' team and do a better job than those currently in the first eleven.

The problem with part-time players is their availability because of their work commitments. Many part-timers enjoy very good incomes as well as job security through their work and would be loath to sign full-time professional terms in case they were later discarded as the club moved up the leagues or they lost their job through injury. For most of these players the income they earn is, as we used to say in the old days, just 'pin money'. Other part-timers who might be on a lower earning scale could see it as a means of topping up their income but on the other hand could be afraid to ask their employers for time off or an early finish to get to matches, or indeed training. Certain occupations could not accommodate employees who had time off for football such as those who work for the 999 services or those involved in shift work.

It must also be difficult for employers themselves, seeing their footballing employees not turning in for work due to some injury sustained on a Saturday afternoon and thus losing their company valuable man hours. A company I once worked for had an excellent non-league footballer on their books and in the end he was given an ultimatum: football or work. He never kicked a football in anger again.

So with some exceptions going down the semi-pro route is not without its difficulties. It is a hard call. On the other hand if  Pools did have the misfortune of dropping into the National League North there would be no other option other than the semi-professional/part-time route. Hopefully it does not come to that.

Dependent on the length of players' contracts offered under Craig Harrison's regime I can't see many of the current squad being with us next season ...and deservedly so.

My retained list would comprise of:
Scott Loach: On the proviso that he promises to dominate his box and hold shots instead of parrying them.
Kenton Richardson: A footballer in the making who I think would make a better midfielder than a full back.
Josh Hawkes: Should have been introduced to the team before Bates took over. Great maturity for a young lad.
Devante Rodney: Still only a kid, but with the right coaching I think he could go far.
Louis Laing; Stop laughing. If he could iron out his Laurel and Hardy moments he could be another who could surprise us all. Looks classy on the ball, particularly when moving forward. His best games are when he is not partnered with Scott Harrison and vice versa.
Michael Woods: Again, another who has improved under Matthew Bates, playing further forward, resulting in him becoming the club's leading goalscorer.
Blair Adams: Hmmmm. I don't know. I think I would keep him as long as he stayed clear of the left-back position. I'd probably hang on to him as a wide man.
Jack Munns: Don't think we saw the best of him through injury.
Mr Marmite, alias Nicky Featherstone: Looks a tidy footballer but not my cup of tea. At times needlessly slows the game down even when we are chasing a draw, let alone a win. Probably would be better suited to a team with a different style of play such as Man City/Barcelona. When the vultures were circling round Pools ahead of their financial crisis and picking players off one by one, his name was linked with Swindon. I'd only keep him as an asset to sell on.

As for the other players not named, they are either too injury prone or just not good enough, so cheerio, bye now.
"I am unsure if I would like to see Craig Hignett back in the managerial hotseat at Pools as his record was not much better than that of his predecessor"

What then of the Manager? Personally I believe, despite the Guiseley result (when Pools morphed into Craig Harrison mode), that Matthew Bates should be given the role of manager, perhaps on a rolling contract. The elephant in the room however, is the spectre of Craig Hignett, who has been lurking in the shadows for a while.

Most managers who have left Pools in recent times they have failed to be re-employed elsewhere as managers. (What chance has Craig Harrison got?) Hignett is no exception, recently failing to get the vacant manager's job at Gateshead.

It appears that he is close to Raj Singh and he has been touted as likely to be appointed as Director of Football should Singh purchase the club. How he can take that role is beyond me as he has only had a year's management experience under his belt. To quote Arsène Wenger. "What is a Director of Football?" At this level why do we require a Director of Football?

The other thing that sits uncomfortably with me is that when Craig Hignett was manager of Pools he rightly complained that players were not only being shipped out without his knowledge, but others were being brought in behind his back. Hignett is on record as saying that one particular player who was foisted upon him would never play for him as long as he was manager at Pools, as he was not the type of that was needed at the club at that time. That player is now a regular in the first team.

I can understand Hignett's frustration. When Alan Pardew was manager of West Ham he had Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano 'foisted' upon him and was not best pleased, not because he had two world-class players dumped into his struggling squad but because he felt undermined, having had no involvement in their arrival. Mascherano hardly got a game under Pardew, probably kept out of the side by the scintillating skills of the then Hammers midfielder Nigel Reo Coker, who has just recently signed for MK Dons after being unattached for most of the season!

The Mail reported that it was hoped that the sale of the club would be completed before the 5pm transfer deadline closed, as the prospective buyers had two players lined up to sign for the club. I scratched my head when I read this and the old saying of the kettle calling the pot black sprang to mind. Did Matthew Bates have any prior knowledge of who these players might be? Did he want them? Did he have any say on who he wanted? Or were they being foisted on Bates à la Hignett by Hignett himself, as surely Jeff Stelling or Raj Singh would not have been responsible for choosing the new blood. (Presumably the players in question would have had some form of Borer connection).

It could be a case of giving Bates the manager's job full-time and if that does not work out Hignett would step into the role and the title of Director of Football would then become redundant.

I am unsure if I would like to see Craig Hignett back in the managerial hotseat at Pools as his record was not much better than that of his predecessor Colin Cooper, plus we got a few good thrashings along the way (Stevenage six-nil) and saw some exceedingly dull football, and that with better players than we have now. My jury is out on that one, however if I was a betting man I would put my money on him becoming HUFC manager sooner rather than later.

My view is if Bates does get the manager's post he should insist at the very beginning on being left alone to get on with the job without any outside or internal interference. However, whichever way one looks at it, having Hignett in the backround could undermine Bates' authority. I do sincerely hope that that is not the case. The club must come first ahead of any individual's ego.