Hartlepool United’s belated and thin retained list epitomises everything about the club at present: blindness, needless stubbornness and failure of bravery.
Releasing just one of the first team regulars – Evan Horwood – of the catastrophic relegation season and renewing the contract (or soon to be renewed in the case of Sam Collins, Andy Monkhouse and Ritchie Humphreys) of Neil Austin and not dispensing of the failures is a recipe for another season awash with defeats. And let’s not forget, last season’s relegation was not just a combination of poor effort attributed by the players earlier on, or luck or any other excuses, it is the harvest of poor player recruitment and turnover the past 3 years. It’s been coming and the signs are that there are very little plans in place to right the wrongs and that’s worrying.
Nine wins in one season does not see “winners” emblazoned across the players’ forehead. No, there is an imprint of losers, of failures, of players who have not been good enough in the past so what’s to say they will be good enough in the future?
The refusal to cleanse the squad of the players that are responsible for the team’s demise stinks of ignorance to their entire situation. And the wonderful season ticket offer of £150 will not cover the damage the club have done. People will not part with that amount of money – however small – if they do not believe they will get a return for their investment. And with the continuation of the same players who have delivered such sparse forms of entertainment for the past three years on offer again, gates will fall beneath the 3000 barrier, possibly even further. The club have only got themselves to blame.
Unfortunately, though, it is what we can now expect of HUFC. Expect the unexpected. The club is afraid of making brave decisions, of releasing players who fit the Clarence Road furniture. The club have a policy of not discussing players’ contracts until the season has reached its climax. In a season of more lows than highs and when fans are as disillusioned as they have ever been in the IOR era – now was the time to scrap those policies and act in the best way to help move the club forward and recover from the wreckage of the past seasons.
Decisions on who went and who stayed was made 11 days after the season had finished, seven more than most clubs in League One and League Two had waited. Not for the first time this season, the club were languishing behind the rest.
Manager John Hughes had talked about rebuilding the club in March, identifying his targets for the next season and coming to conclusions about who should make up the playing staff come August. His appeals, via the media, for a meeting with chief executive Russ Green were rejected. Hughes was then forced to make a rather embarrassing u-turn, stating that “now isn’t the time.” Had he been warned by Green that the club must not deviate from their polices? It certainly appears that way. It’s child-like. Hughes adhered to the club’s stringent rules; is he going to be made to walk because his views and ways do not marry those of IOR’s?
Football success is dependent on making bold, correct decisions and Tuesday’s retained list was distant to the factors that conjure up success.
In Hughes Pools have a manager who has already demonstrated in 2013 that he can evoke a wining formula out of a group of players who had come so accustomed to losing. He has shown his credentials, but he MUST be allowed to carry that onto next season. One fears that will not be the case and it will be another case of the club shooting themselves in the foot.
Hughes’ appointment was huge, for the club desperately needed to resurrect the flailing ship. However, failure to back Hughes with trust, judgement and with finance (as much as can be afforded for the finance restrictions at HUFC limits over spending) over the summer months for his squad assemblage will only eventuate with more failure, declining attendances and increasing fan unrest
To obey a fan’s wish is not always encouraged, see the return of Neale Cooper. But to also remain stubborn and blind to the reasons behind the previous failures without correcting them is also not encouraged. It’s plain stupidity. I hope I have ill-perceived the current going-ons at HUFC.