Mistletoe and Whine


Like many Pools supporters I was taken by surprise by Richard Money's out of the blue (oh, that was Bates's wasn't it?) appointment, particularly when the smart money (scuse pun) was on Lee Bradbury getting the job, more so if the rumours that Pools actually made an approach for the Havant boss are to believed.

Having seen Havant's recent aerobatic display at the Vic, players tripping themselves up, falling down and rolling over at the the slightest contact that would even embarrass Neymar, on that level alone I was delighted that Bradbury was passed over for the vacancy. At one stage even their keeper went down for a few minutes feigning cramp to run the clock down. Their sponge men spent as much time on the pitch as some of their players.

Apart from his Liverpool and Fulham connection I knew little or nothing of Money (scuse pun) but upon checking previous form, he has a very impressive track record. If I recall correctly, his win ratio is something like 45%. The other important thing is that he knows this league. I must confess to some initial concern when I heard his first radio and press interviews as it had a sense of déja-vu as it was a case of Cambridge this and Luton that and I was beginning to think "are you Dave Jones in disguise?" Managers in all walks of life should realise that they are only as good as their next job not the previous one, as Jose Mourinho no doubt will confirm.

Prior to his first appearance at the Vic I do not recall the PA announcer asking the fans for a big rousing Hartlepool welcome for our new manager - nor a "tough-luck" round of applause for the runner up who was in the opposition's dug out. It all seemed very low key. No Abba-esque chants of "Money Money Money."  It did cross my mind that if things did not work out for our new manager I could envisage Poolies on all sides of the ground holding  five/ten pound notes up in the air chanting '"Money out, Money out, Money out!" Hopefully that will not be the case.
"What I did not anticipate was that, after only three games in charge, many fans already seemed to be on his case"

What I did not anticipate was that, after only three games in charge, many fans already seemed to be on his case, some citing that football-wise nothing had changed and it looked as if Matthew Bates was still in the dugout.

In all honesty I was having similar thoughts after Pools' first half performance at Gateshead. I nearly choked on my mulled wine when Money later stated that we were the better side on the day. However after watching the highlights a couple of times over, the 'Send in the clowns' defending for the two Gateshead goals aside, I could see where he was coming from.

The formation was different. Pools built from the back, moving the ball on the deck, trying to bring the wide men into play and putting crosses into the box instead of lumping it any old where from the back for Muir or James to chase after. Magnay played in front of the back four and looked a bit uncomfortable in that role but against Chesterfield first half it was a different story. On the day Muir was a lone striker up front, and did not get the necessary support required from midfield but again it is work in progress. Basically player-wise the manager has been dealt a duff set of cards. Yes, he has two or three decent diamonds but he could do with a few decent hearts in his hand to play with. At present it is a case of make do and mend until he can bring in better, pacier players. Money stated prior to his appointment that he watched every video of Pools this season - little wonder that he has that hang-dog expression and glazed look in his eyes. That said it is not the same as seeing the players in the flesh, so to speak. I am sure he has been told by those within the club and fans alike which players are taking the mick, who are the plodders, which players could do with shedding a few pounds and who was involved with "Pizza gate."

Money, it could be said. is in pre-season mode, looking at every player in the squad which pretty much explains why the whole squad have had game time at one stage or another, to assess if they are fit for purpose and what formation/system suits them best. He will also be casting an eye on those players who aren't cutting the mustard with a view to shipping some of them out, that is if anyone else will take them.

The performance against Gateshead at the Vic was in total contrast to that of the International Stadium on Boxing Day. Some say, arguably, it was Pools best performance of the year!

After a bright opening it looked for a short period of time that the game was going to be a rerun of many of its previous scripts. Leading by a solitary goal, as ever not from open play but a penalty. Failing to convert chances, not being incisive, failing as ever to keep a clean sheet with many in the ground thinking "here we go again" and waiting for the inevitable late goal from the visitors. However Pools did not sit back and took the lead from open play. Although Gateshead pressed it was good to see that Pools were not clinging on by their fingertips like they usually do to prevent an equaliser but were still pushing forward and very much in control. On the down side there was a small chorus of boos when Hawkes was taken off. The lad basically looked tired and faded as the game progressed, but his replacement Paddy McLaughlin scored what proved to be the winning goal with an assist from Nico Muir who was also drawing criticism from a few fans.

Now is the time to get behind the players and the new manager and buy in, and bear with him on what he is trying to put together, which in truth is actually making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

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