RONNIE Moore admits he was surprised it took so long to see an improvement in his Hartlepool United players since taking charge of the club.
Moore had to wait until his fifth game, against Cheltenham Town last weekend, to win his first game as Pools boss and stop a run of 12 league games without a win.
The 61-year-old puts it down to how flat the players were when he walked through the door at Victoria Park back in mid-December.
Moore said: “I am surprised it has taken so long because I haven’t asked them to produce anything that they can’t.
“I have just asked them to work hard.
“But that is their job, their job is to work hard and be committed and show desire to do things.
“To give the fans something to shout about and it shouldn’t be hard for 11 players to go out and produce.
“At the home game against Morecambe [a 2-0 defeat] the fans had a pop and rightly so but you didn’t hear any of that against Cheltenham last weekend.
“That is because the fans had seen a bit of effort and commitment and desire to wear the shirt.
“That shouldn’t be an extra, that is what they get paid for.
“It shows how flat they were when I took over.
“It has taken a while to lift them and you soon find out the ones you can kick up the backside and the ones you can give a sugar lump to.
“Even the ones who want the sugar need a slap around the ear to liven them up, to make them realise this is a man’s world and we are fighting for survival.”
Pools are bottom of the Football League, with just 17 points from their opening 25 league matches in Sky Bet League Two ahead of this afternoon’s trip to Shrewsbury Town at Greenhous Meadow.
Moore has been at pains to stress the reality of the situation to his players ahead of back-to-back away games with a trip to relegation rivals Tranmere Rovers, one of his former clubs, next weekend.
“We are all playing for survival and to keep the club in the football league,” added Moore.
“That is where we want to be because you can see how hard it is to get back.
“Look at Cambridge and Luton and how long it took them to get back into the league and then you have the likes of Lincoln City who are still in there.
“Luton had six or seven thousand fans every week but it shows it is not easy with just one automatic spot, as anything can happen in the play-offs.
“If we can get four points out of the next two games then the whole situation looks very different.
“But if you lose them, you are back to where we were two weeks ago.
“That is what is great about the game - the opportunity is there, can we grasp it?
“If we have the fight and desire and spirit that will go a long way to getting something out of the games,” added Moore.