Hartlepool United: ‘With a couple of signings the club has a good chance of getting out of trouble’
“I BELIEVE that with a couple of signings the club has a good chance of getting out of trouble. And may be a new face around the place will give the lads a lift.”
That could, quite feasibly, be a quote today from outgoing Hartlepool United boss Paul Murray.
In fact, the words above came from the mouth of Bob Moncur almost exactly 25 years ago after he quit the Pools job.
Then, Pools were in dire straits, bottom of the Football League and conceding goals for fun, though that is exactly the opposite of what it felt like for Pools fans who had seen this so often before.
Moncur had been forced to send out a patched-up side including promising, but raw, teenage talent like Don Hutchison, Tony Barras, Kenny Davies and Stephen Plaskett and the side struggled.
They conceded 48 goals in 18 games and Pools were rooted to the bottom on nine points.
Today, Pools look just as isolated, this time with 12 points from 19 matches and a goal difference of minus 20.
Back in 1989, after Moncur resigned, Pools had the choice between the flamboyant Malcolm Allison, one of the brightest coaches of his generation, and Cyril Knowles, who was not overly popular as a former boss of Darlington.
The then Pools chairman, Garry Gibson, and his directors plumped for Cyril. Nice one. He had a lower league pedigree and a reputation as a no-nonsense boss.
He turned around Pools in spectacular fashion.
Knowles signed four experienced performers immediately and the goals stopped going in at one end and, as a result, they turned the Vic into a fortress with 10 home wins.
Pools finished on 55 points.
They need a comeback like that now and a points tally to match to survive as a Football League club.
Moncur had some good players, he signed Mick Smith, Paul Dalton and a certain Joe Allon, and Rob McKinnon and Brian Honour were already there, though ‘Jackie’ was out injured for a long spell.
Pools have some talent now, players like Scott Flinders, Michael Duckworth and Brad Walker to name just three, and the Marlon Harewood-Scott Fenwick partnership deserves a chance.
But Pools need men adding to the squad, experienced, tough operators, plus some creativity.
They require a boss who will bring the best out of all that and, as we can see, it has been done before.
It is over now to Increased Oil Recovery.
When Colin Cooper left they made a bold appointment of a bright young, but untried, boss in Paul Murray, alongside the old hand, Willie Donachie.
Chief executive Russ Green explained to SportMail at the time that the club wanted a “fresh” boss, someone untainted by relegation.
It has not worked out but what has gone on is not Murray and Donachie’s fault.
IOR and Pools now must think carefully and choose well.