Harrison v Bates

(Not exactly Wilder v Fury)


At the start of the season there appeared to be a wind of change within the club. The club had been saved. Then it was a case of out with the old and in with the new. New owners, a new manager and new, seemingly better players.

It is fair to say that amongst Poolies there was a wave of optimism about the forthcoming season and a new dawn was on the horizon. The dawn we expected turned out to be a false one on the pitch in many respects. We are now almost halfway through the season and we have almost been given a repeat performance of last season. Call it Dog Day Afternoon or deja vu gone wrong.
When one compares Craig Harrison's record against Matthew Bates's at the same stage of the season it is almost identical.

The opening games saw a slow spluttering start, then Pools went on a nice, though not a convincing, winning streak to put them within reach of an automatic promotion place. Then came a long losing run which saw Pools steadily drop off downwards through the play-off spots and eventually out of contention of reaching the play offs at all, with a bottom four place calling.

Similarly in the case of both managers results were not forthcoming and entertainment was way in short supply. Both managers seemed to persist with the same tactics and neither had a plan B. Whether it was the players that did not suit the system or the system that did not suit the players or that the tactic(s) were so over-complicated that the players did not understand them.

Both managers were rookies at this level. Both previously played for Middlesbrough, whose mantra, since the days of Jack Charlton (Bryan Robson era excluded), has been not to lose at all costs and to defend a one goal lead rather than go chasing a second goal and bore everyone watching in the process. This they achieved on a regular basis except the not to lose bit of the mantra.
"Both managers seemed to persist with the same tactics and neither had a plan B."

Out of the two who is the better manager? That's a hard call as if you look at their records league-wise they are almost identical with just one point separating both managers. Bates's record in the FA cup is slightly better, having scraped past the mighty Kidsgrove Athletic and then holding Gillingham to a creditable draw away from home whilst Craig Harrison at the same point saw his side fall at the first hurdle to relegation-bound Workington.

On field Craig Harrison had the erratic performances of the Chuckle Brothers Louis Laing and Scotty Harrison. Off field he had other distractions such as the players' wages not being paid, a transfer embargo, players leaving the club and what, at the time looked like the certainty of the club folding. Bates had no such pressures and seems to have been given a lot of leeway, although in the close season the fact that he did not release more of the deadwood that was in the club surprised many. However I would say that the players that he has brought in, particularly Muir, Kioso, James, Davies and Noble are superior to any of those in Craig Harrison's squad and indeed the squad that saw Pools get relegated into the fifth tier.

For the record here's the record:

Craig Harrison: P22 W7 L8 D7 F22 A23 Pts28
Matthew Bates: P22 W7 L7 D8 F23 A29 Pts29

As you can see it is a close call but what else have we learned from this exercise of duplicity? Matthew Bates is the new Craig Harrison.
Luke Williams is the new Luke George.
Myles Anderson is the new Louis Laing,

Conclusion We could add both Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett to the equation which would probably throw up some similar stats. Here's hoping that when it comes to appointing a new manager, he has no links to, or played for, or even lived in Middlesbrough!

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