There have been many good performances throughout the year from Pools and I have consistently been impressed with the way the club have defended as a unit. I would like to highlight a couple of players who are my candidates for the Player of the season award:
Paul Murray: By marshalling the midfield, just in front of the defence the holding midfielder does a tidy job in protecting the back four for United. Dictating the midfield with his leadership and distribution, he has been second to none and instrumental in the team this season.
Evan Horwood: The left back has a consistent season, even scoring a few cracking goals this season and the fan’s favourite has rarely missed a game for the Pools. As an attacking full back who possesses a mean delivery, he can hurt opposition teams in attack as well as doing a fine job in defence.
Sam Collins: The experienced centre-back, with a wise head, has once more excelled for Pools in another hard fought campaign. As one of the club’s longest serving players, he has been a prominent figure in the back-line for the team again and the team looks stronger with him among it.
However the winner for me is Evan Horwood, from many fans and journalists I have spoken to up North this season from the games I have been to seem to agree and they do not have a bad word to say about him.
With the young player of the season award I’m afraid there is only one winner. Although both Greg Rutherford and Jack Baldwin, who both look worthy stars of tomorrow, have run him close the one lad who totally stands out head and shoulders above the rest is Luke James. The 17-year-old career has really taken off since he was given the chance to play-upfront with Boyd, Noble and Sweeney. Nobody really expected him to be quite the talent he is but scoring three times already he is certainly one to watch next season.
The players whose impressive displays have gone under the radar include Paul Murray, Anthony Sweeney and Paul Murray who have been equally impressive but don’t seem to receive much praise when the team performed well. Hard-working, reliable and willing are a few words used to describe these different individuals.
As for the players who have disappointed this season I will have to go for Adam Boyd and James Poole. Boydy as surely his best years out behind him and in the words of Neale Cooper: ‘He is isn’t going to outrun anyone’ referring to his speed. While I don’t think that Poole has shown his true potential yet after struggling with injuries throughout the season it’s slightly harsh to call him underperforming as he has shown moments of class when he was fit. However he has been unable to hold down a starting position which he badly needs if he is progress with the Pools.
The best moment of the season for me was watching James Poole come on from the substitute bench at the beginning of the season and practically scored with his first touch twice against MK Dons and Rochdale. Not just scoring, but his goals in those two games were pure class. I remember jumping out of my seat on both occasions in sheer amazement in what I just saw. Two fabulous goals worthy of being in the Premier League, they were that good.
For my best eleven from the season there are one or two players who perhaps may have got in had they not been injured like James Poole and other late arrivals to the team such as striker Ryan Noble who have only recently joined so they both unfortunately miss out.
Team of the season
GK – Scott Flinders
LB – Evan Horwood
CB – Peter Hartley
CB – Sam Collins
RB – Neil Austin
LM – Andy Monkhouse
CM – Gary Liddle
CM – Paul Murray
RM – Ritchie Humphreys
ST– Anthony Sweeney
ST– Luke James
The team pretty much picks itself this season as the squad has looked a bit thin on the ground in recent weeks towards the end of the year. I’m sure that manager, Neale Cooper, has been brought in to put his stamp on the team and therefore will see a different starting eleven from next season.
After another ordinary campaign, Pools fans will be thinking déjà vu to last year. How can we improve? In my opinion I am almost certain the manager will bring in one maybe two strikers. Hartlepool in my opinion lack goals, especially at home and I think this should be assessed. As for other positions the club may need strengthening and I understand Cooper likes to play with natural wingers with pace, something the club do not have. I think he’ll sign a couple of players he is familiar with to play in these vacant positions.
By Hartlepool United blogger John Mason