I was surprised how many people were shocked at the departure of Craig Hignett.

I have got to admit that I was, insomuch as I thought that he should leave the club, but I did not expect that Raj would sack his friend. As a sweetener he could have, money permitting, put him back in the chair he vacated as Director of Football. I've got to say though, ruthless as it may seem, that it was good management by the chairman.

In truth, I thought that despite adding better players to the squad, we were not making any progress under his tenure. By coincidence I said to one of my friends a couple of days before his departure that it would be better that Hignett left sooner rather than later, i.e Christmas, as it would give his successor time to evaluate the team and put it on course for, if nothing else, a play-off spot. I won't dwell on what I felt were Hignett's failings but if you are interested look back on the last few editions of M.B. I wonder if the savings Pools made on Liam Noble's wages following his departure to Morpeth will be used as a pay-off for Hignett and Ged McNamee.

At the time of writing Tony Sweeney and Ian McGuckin have not only steadied the ship but are getting results and the team is scoring more than its one obligatory goal per match and so far not conceded any.

With tho odd exception I'll be the first to admit I cannot see how Sweeney's and McGuckin's sides differ from Hignett's. Admittedly they have started with Featherstone, not a favourite of mine but against Barnet he was my man-of-the-match and that takes something for me to say. Donaldson seems to be pushing up front more but apart from that it is business as usual.

In the plus column, most noticeably, Sweens is not afraid to introduce substitutes earlier than in the 89th minute. In the debit column the team is still taking fifteen passes when two or three will get them to their objective sooner rather than later and without being closed down along the way. The midfield and forwards still do not break quickly enough up the pitch when we have a break and our forwards do not get in the box as often as they should. Improved as he has, Mark Kitching for whatever reason hasn't the confidence to take on his man or whip crosses into the box.
"the team is scoring more than its one obligatory goal per match"

My biggest gripe, most annoyingly against ten-man Barnet, we had eleven men in our box when defending a corner. Surely a minimum of two forwards should have stayed up front tying up perhaps three of their defenders. Still on the subject of corners, why don't we have a man, Paul Baker style, hanging out at the far post?*

As well as that, the team still sits far too deep at times. Against Barnet we could have doubled our goals tally but decided to stay put in midfield passing the ball sideways and backwards which in truth killed the atmosphere on the day. Holohan, surprisingly under both managers, does not seem to warrant a start and I'm not sure if Sweens, like Hignett, knows his best starting eleven.

So what is the difference between the two managerial styles. I am only guessing but I can only put it down to motivation. Is Sweens the man for the job? We would all like him to burn up this league and gain automatic promotion and like a budgie with no teeth, I would love him to ...succeed!

But, hmmmm. I am not sure. It could be too soon for the lad. We need to see his reaction to a defeat or a cup exit. I would prefer to see a more experienced manager take the reins and perhaps install Sweens as his number two.

* For the benefit of our younger readers Paul Baker was a centre forward who hung about the far stick and scored an awful lot of goals.

Front Page