Former Boro skipper backs Hignett to take Hartlepool United far

Matthew Bates heads clear for Pools against York. Picture by Joe Spence
Matthew Bates heads clear for Pools against York. Picture by Joe Spence
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Hartlepool United can go a long, long way under Craig Hignett.

That was the view of defender Matthew Bates in the aftermath of their 15th win of the season against York City at Victoria Park.

Pools are back at the Vic tomorrow night, looking to continue their strong end-of-season run against high-fliers Accrington Stanley.

The 2-1 success over the relegation-condemned Minsterman was the eighth victory of Hignett’s 16-match reign.

And Bates says under Hignett’s football philosophy, Pools have the potential to play their way out of League Two and beyond.

“If you look at the teams in our league that look like going up, they all play [good] football,” said Bates.

“I think you only get minor success from old-style, long-ball stuff.

“For success in the long run, this club needs to go through the football route.

“You look at the likes of Swansea who have gone all the way through from League Two to the Premier League playing that way.

“If they can do that why can’t we?

“It’s a bit of a statement, I know, but why can’t we go through the leagues playing the same way?

“I’ve been at clubs where a manager may come in and say ‘we need to go long ball’.

“But Higgy has come in here and looked at our players and seen what he’s got at his disposal and thought ‘we can do this’.

“Fair play, he’s stuck to his football philosophy from the start and we’re doing well.”

Bates has played in every division in England including plenty of games in the Premier League and in Europe, so his views are worth noting.

Hignett is already building for next season by tying down three players on extended contracts, keepers Trevor Carson and Adam Bartlett and midfielder, Lewis Hawkins.

The manager has hinted that there may be more new deals this week for players in the rejuvenated Pools side.

But there is also still football to be played and Pools enter the last four games of the season in fine fettle.

They need to be too, the matches are against teams placed 4th, 2nd, 6th and 5th in the table.

“We’re going to have to be at our best from now until the end of the season,” explained Bates, who made a successful return from a thigh injury to help Pools to victory over a gutsy York.

“I think we can go into tomorrow full of confidence.

“I’ve said it before but every game in our division is much of a muchness, any team can beat anyone, it’s a strange old league.”