MICKY Barron could find only one word to describe Hartlepool United’s FA Cup humiliation at League Two Chesterfield – embarrassing.
Indeed, the caretaker boss used the term three times when he came to reflect on the wreckage of the first round exit, which he believes marks a new low for the current group of players.
The pitiful performance is likely to cost Barron his shot at landing the manager’s role on a full-time basis, although he will remain in charge for Wednesday’s visit of Tranmere Rovers.
And the 37-year-old refused to defend his players today.
“Embarrassed is the right word for it, ” said Barron, whose team were subject to chants of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” from the travelling fans.
“All the criticism is fair and you can’t hide away from it. The fans were 100 per cent right in what they were singing. I’m surprised it took them until the second half to turn.
“They were terrific and tried to encourage but they need something back, there’s not a lot to cheer when the goals are flying in against a team in the division below.
“It truly is an embarrassment to the fans and the club.”
The alarming nature of the defeat – against a team in the bottom half of the fourth tier – has heightened the need for the arrival of a new manager.
Barron had been very much in the running given the much-improved display at Brentford last weekend and the impressive way he has handled himself since taking the reins from Neale Cooper.
But an external appointment is now almost certain, with former Pools defender Phil Brown the clear favourite.
Whoever arrives at Victoria Park, they will inherit a team rock bottom of League One and without a win in 15 matches.
From the concession of the first goal – a clever, well-crafted effort lifted into the top corner by Scott Boden on 16 minutes – Pools were a beaten side.
Mark Randall tucked home an easy second, and then Craig Lay was given room to fire the third.
Jack Baldwin lost track of Terrell Forbes as he headed a fourth, while Sam Collins was dragged out of position and Peter Hartley failed to intercept a routine through ball to gift Jack Lester a fifth.
The defence put up no resistance whatsoever as Danny Whitaker weaved into the danger zone and squared for Craig Westcarr to smash home the sixth goal.
Antony Sweeney had interspersed the fourth and fifth goals with a brave header for his first of the season, but it meant almost nothing to the miserable travelling fans.
Chesterfield: O’Donnell, Talbot, Forbes, Cooper (Westcarr 77), Smith, Whitaker, Clay, Togwell, Randall (Broadhead 90), Darikwa, Boden (Lester 70). Subs not used: Mason, Hazel, Wafula, Evans. Goals: Boden 16, Randall 29, Clay 42, Forbes 54, Lester 79, Westcarr 90.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Hartley, Baldwin (Collins 56), Horwood, Walton, Sweeney, Murray (Franks 56), Humphreys (Poole 58), Howard, Noble. Subs not used: McHugh, Luscombe, Holden, Wyke. Booked: Hartley, Walton. Goals: Sweeney 78. Att: 3,083 Ref: Christopher Sarginson (Staffordshire).