Can we mount a challenge in the ever competitive League 1 this year?
Contemplating a repeat season ofÂ 3 years ago when Neale Cooper took us to 8 minutes away from Championship football is something that may only happen in dreams. Danny Wilson is a fairly respected man in football but has recieved much critiscm since being Hartlepool manager, his negative approach and puzzling decisions angering fans. Last season was the chairman’s example of “consolidation” but for fans it was slow, ground out hell. Some of the worst performances in the last 10 years were experienced in the once “Fortress Victoria Park” and Wilson’s persitence to use players out of position or use players that really weren’t up to League 1 standard formed a magnet for negetivity.
Of course, the argument is that this is the best times Hartlepool has ever seen and we should be grateful but after the highs of Neale Cooper’s reign, it is difficult to not establish why fans are so angry. A lack of ambition is one remark that is constantly used for Hartlepool; lack of money spent on players, selling of best players and being regarded the minnows of League 1. Us and our shack of a stadium, freezing terraces and tractor seats.
So, at the beginning of this current 08/09 season, messageÂ boards were rife withÂ “Wilson Out!” and rumours of who will take his role when he is sacked. Fans were adamant he was going after a run of 12 games without a win to finish the season. Ken Hodcroft, the chairman, saved the clubÂ from the realms of administration and is highly thought of within the Hartlepool fans but his refusal to spend money does give usÂ the impression we won’t be going anywhere fast. Still, he knows how to sack managers and has proved he has that very attribute, sacking Mike Newell and Martin Scott toÂ name but a few.
Then, as pre season started and the retained list was published, it was evidence Wilson would be staying and we would need to stand by ourÂ man. The club signed Ritchie Jones, a young gun from Manchester United, Alan Power, another young starlet from Nottingham Forest, and Mark Cook, anotherÂ young goalkeeper from Newcastle United. David Foley, the center of much critiscm due to his lightweight and un-sattisfactory performances was handed aÂ three year contract for his efforts. Excellent!
Pre season was average. GoodÂ performances against Falkirk,Â Huddersfield and Newcastle (incidentally in a 4-1Â defeat) was followed by poor performances against York and Hamilton Academical. Negetivity spread like a smog overÂ Hartlepool, and an extremely low crowd for the season curtain raiser against Colchester further instilled that mindset.Â
Despite all that, Colchester, among the favourites after falling from the Championship, wereÂ mauled by a rampant HartlepoolÂ side that had a few starletsÂ proving their worth. James Brown, scored a quick brace and further alerted scouts to theÂ player in his early 20s. 4-2 the final scoreÂ to Hartlepool and after destroying Scunthorpe, another of theÂ fallen giants,Â optimism was raised.
The standard in League one thisÂ year is very strong, no doubt. Hartlepool were one of the early favourites to go down and whilst it’s early days, they seem to be proving that aura wrong.Â Good, slick football was played in both games and continued in the firstÂ defeat of the season away at Tranmere. AÂ side that i can guarentee won’t do well this year.Â ThereÂ terrible performance somehow was rewarded withÂ 3 points.
So, as this article comes to it’s close, we have lost our unbeaten run.Â But, fans are still fairly pleased with the start. We have proved we can play football and the homeÂ grown James Brown is proving to be the killer striker that we craved. Richie Barker, two years our top scorer has been linked with a move to Rotherham due to travelling difficulties and if thatÂ goes through, fans will expect another striker toÂ arrive at the club. My hopes for the season would be for the good football to continue, for Danny Wilson to stop making clueless decisions,Â and to make a serious challenge in the play offs this year. Oh, and for Darlington to slump to yet another season of uncertainty and casualties please…
You never know…