HARTLEPOOL United boss Mick Wadsworth admits that expectation has hit unprecedented heights given the club’s record start to the season.
If the bookmakers were to be believed, then Pools were headed for a season-long struggle at the wrong end of the League One ladder.
Promotion odds, on the other hand, were fanciful to say the least – a price of 33/1 quoted, that has now been slashed to just 8/1.
The reason is the unbeaten start which, prior to today’s visit of Sheffield Wednesday, had stretched to nine matches.
Wadsworth, though, believes the league will only start to take shape over the course of the next few weeks, but he admits his men are hopeful of hanging around in the upper echelons of the third tier.
“As we go on unbeaten, the mentality changes from one of nervousness and apprehension to one of great optimism,” he said.
“Expectation to win games is that much stronger now than it was at the start of the season, before we played MK Dons on the opening day.
“But the league is still very changeable and one loss or even a draw can see you slip a good few places. On the same token if you keep on winning then you’ve got a great chance of staying up there.
“We’ve given ourselves that chance but it’s early days.
“If we’re still there after 12 or 13 games then we’ll say ‘yeah, we might do okay this season’.”
Wadsworth has brought six players to Victoria Park since the end of last season.
Two of them – Nobby Solano and Colin Nish – have been first-team regulars thus far, while James Poole and Nathan Luscombe, both still 21-years-old, have made an impressive contribution from the bench.
Stephen Wright, signed on a free transfer last month, had won a starting jersey until a recent knee injury saw him sidelined, while teenager Jack Baldwin is catching the eye at reserve-team level.
And Wadsworth added: “We have improved as a squad and as a team and a club. If we weren’t then someone should hit me over the back of the head with a shovel – we had to make it better.
“The chairman and board have been supportive in what we do and for that I appreciate it.
“We hope for a good season and it’s now about working really hard to maintain a fantastic start.”