Hartlepool United transfer latest, tactical dilemmas & striker selections - Liam Kennedy discusses the burning issues at Pools

Hartlepool United head into this weekend's National League encounter with Barnet, looking to end a three-game losing run.

Thursday, 15th November 2018, 10:27 am
Updated Thursday, 15th November 2018, 2:39 pm
Matthew Bates.
Matthew Bates.

System switches, personnel changes and transfer were all on the agenda as our Pools writer previewed this weekend's clash in our weekly Q&A.

Below are his thoughts on all of the major issues of the week at the Super 6 Stadium.

Matthew Bates.

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Would you stick or twist with 4-4-2?

"I would stick - 100%.

"Playing four at the back really did give the side a balance. They looked a better team for it.

"Last weekend there were boos from the home crowd. All you could hear was Poolies. And that's a measure of how well Pools played. They played Gillingham off the park.

"I like a four at the back and the players seem comfortable playing it, too.

"When you play a three at home, sometimes, especially when the opposition play with one central striker, you end up with one too many defenders when you have the ball.

"With a four at the back and your full-backs joining in the play you only have two men back and I think, especially at home, with the ball, this is the best way to go for Pools."

Which players have benefited most from the switch in system?

"The obvious ones were Ryan Donaldson and Liam Noble.

"I have wanted to see Donaldson in a more advanced position - he is a proper winger who can create and score goals.

"You kind of don't want him doing all the defensive work, you want him on the front foot. But for the manager he is a dream as you know he can do both with minimal fuss.

"Noble got on the ball a lot more. He was a real influence. When he plays well, Pools play well.

"The thing is, you expect those two to perform for Pools.

"The two that were unexpected stand outs, the surprise was Paddy McLaughlin, who was outstanding, and Mark Kitching.

"McLaughlin had his best game in a Pools shirt. They had to change their system to get to grips with him, he played that well.

"Kitching is a player who has taken some criticism this season, some fair, some unfair. He hasn't been Pools' best player but he's also not been their worst. He has been a six out of 10.

"When he plays out on the left in the five he is Pools' main point of attack when the ball goes out there and to be honest he has not been able to produce in the final third.

"When he was in a back four he is almost an extra layer of attack, rather than the sole focus.

"And with McLaughlin, who has a good left foot and can cause problems, he was able to overlap and create space for others.

"It was a combination that worked well."

What is the transfer latest at Pools?

"Pools are playing their cards close to their chest. At this stage they are looking.

"The benefit of the two signings last week was that it cost them next to nothing to do.

"The striker they have signed is the right type. Just what fans have been crying out for. He adds an extra dimension, he is different to the other three Pools have.

"It might be a possibility that Pools keep their powder dry, even though they have some wriggle room to do business.

"They might well see how Tyrone O'Neill settles and works in the first-team environment before signing any other players.

"But they might well look to add goals - I think they still need that."

Does Tyrone O'Neill have a chance of starting on Sunday?

"Bates offered up the information that he thinks O'Neill is in the mix for Sunday.

"I think he has made a big impression since signing for Pools.

"It will be interesting to see if he gets a chance."

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What do you make of Carl Magnay's performances this season?

"In general Magnay has been excellent for Pools this season.

"He lost the armband in the summer - that could have an impact on some players, but not him.

"He has moved into the centre and gone from strength to strength.

"It was his decision to move into the middle and it was a wise one.

"He has played some of his best football in a Pools' shirt this season."

Who would you play up front on Sunday?

"If it was Barnet away I would stick with James and Dinanga. With it being at home I am tempted to bring Muir back in.

"He would come in for James, although it would be a tough decision.

"I love the work that James does for the side but Dinanga, because he plays more central, looks more likely to score at the moment. And I want goals in this side."