Craig Hignett has blasted his Hartlepool United players, describing them as “spineless” after their FA Cup exit.
Pools were comfortably beaten by League Two Port Vale yesterday afternoon, ensuring they missed out on a potentially money-spinning third round tie against one of English football’s big boys.
Vale ran out 4-0 winners thanks to a Ryan Taylor penalty, first-half strikes from Alex Jones and Rigino Cicilia, as well as an own goal from Michael Woods.
And while the loss was no shock itself, especially as it came against a team in the division above, it was the manner in which Pools were beaten that upset Hignett.
In fact, the manager described his players’ showing as an “embarrasment”, branding them “spineless” in the process.
Summarising the performance, Hignett said: “Spineless, embarrassing, men against boys, take your pick.
“We concede all the time, we have had meetings, we speak about it, we train the last month on it and it keeps happening every game.
“We don’t make these kind of mistakes in training, but we do it at a weekend.
“The top and bottom of it is that we have to learn. But the problem is we aren’t learning.
“It’s embarrassing when you see things you don’t see in training and don’t practice. We look good in training and do this and that but it’s three o’clock when it matters.”
Hignett admits he has faith in his players, though.
Despite very few positive performances of note this season, he still thinks they have the quality in their ranks to deliver.
Although, he accepts that might be hard for the fans to stomach, given that they see so little of that talent when the players run across the white lines on to the pitch every weekend.
When asked to explain why his players seem incapable of reproducing the goods away from the club’s Maiden Castle training base, he said: “There was just a lack of fire in us.
“They wanted it more which is the disappointing thing. They did what they wanted.
“We did nothing and made it easy for them, they don’t get put under any pressure and we job about and masqueraded as footballers today – its not acceptable.
“Watching it was a joke and I’m upset to say the least.”
Port Vale: Alnwick, Taylor, Streete, Smith, Kiko, Jones (Shalaj 71), Amoros, Tavares (Gibbons 60), de Freitas, Kelly (Mbamba 82), Cicilia. Subs not used: MacIntosh, Paterson, Pereira, Miguel Santos. Booked: Cicilia. Goals: Cicilia 12, Woods 14 og, Jones 31, Taylor 56 pen.
Hartlepool Utd: Carson, Bates, Jones (Richards 66), Nsiala, Carroll, Laurent, Deverdics, Woods, Alessandra (Paynter 53), Amond, Featherstone (Hawkins 53). Subs not used: Oates, Bartlett, Orrell, Martin. Booked: Laurent, Hawkins.
Ref: Darren Handley (Lancashire).