Hartlepool United’s players will “run through a brick wall” for Craig Hignett.
So says Michael Woods as the Pools boss prepares to start his first full season as a manager, kicking off this Saturday against Colchester at Victoria Park.
Hignett took charge of the club in February after Ronnie Moore was sacked and soon transformed their League Two fortunes.
Pools moved from just above the Football League trapdoor up to a final position of 16th, playing an attractive brand of football and scoring goals.
Woods, with typical honesty, says last season’s squad need to look at themselves in the mirror over the departure of Moore.
But he says the way Pools performed under Hignett shows he qualities of the boss and that of his right-hand-man, Curtis Fleming.
“Sometimes the players have to take responsibility,” Woods said
“If a manager loses his job, the players have to look at themselves, have they under-performed and what-not.
“Since the gaffer came in he managed to get that little bit more out of the lads, which is all down to him.
“Motivation, man-management, he’s got both, and obviously he has good people around him, Flem’s brilliant as well to work and play for.
“They want to help us – you really feel they are on your side.
“The gaffer can get nasty when needed but it’s the balance of knowing when to have a go and keeping the lads on side.
“Players will run through a brick wall for him.”
The Pools boss would prefer them to play football but you understand the metaphor from Woods.
Woods believes it was the vision and auro of Hignett which was behind the club’s quartet of signings.
While Lewis Alessandra, Padraig Amond, Nicky Deverdics and Toto Nsiala are hardly names to be said in the breath as Paul Pogba but Pools have brought in four players not just at the height of their powers but wanted by other clubs.
“The way he wants to do things is an attraction to players,” said the 26-year-old.
“No disrespect to Hartlepool but geographically it can sometimes be hard to attract players to come.
“But once through the door the players love being here.
“It’s a great club to play for and I hope we can give the fans something to cheer about.”
Woods was one player who was swayed by the fact that Hignett was in charge again this season.
He too was wanted elsewhere, with Oldham Athletic in the division above one such club.
“I went to speak to a few clubs, in different leagues, I’m not going to lie and say it was ‘Hartlepool, Hartlepool, Hartlepool’,” he said.
“But this felt right for me, I’ve always enjoyed my time here and under Higgy and Flem In think we can flourish as a team.”