After another hammering (5-0 home defeat to Coventry) – the side’s fourth time this season they’ve (without fight) shipped five goals or more – the probability scale of remaining in League One has ticked from “improbable” to “impossible”. Failure to beat Oldham on Tuesday then the club may as well start planning how they are going to mount an attempt at promotion in League Two next season.
Pools are simply not good enough. And that is not a exaggeration fuelled by overriding emotions; it’s the stark truth in light of a dire campaign.
Crafting space is an art. It is a talent. It often elicits an ovation. Teams who face Hartlepool don’t have to unleash their tapestry art; Pools invite the space for them to exploit. It is far too easy for teams to dismantle the Victoria Park outfit.
They say that form is temporary and that class is permanent. Is 20 successive under-par performances down to form? No, it’s not. That’s down to class and ability; or rather a lack of it.
This is a Pools side who are confidence-sapped. They do not have belief in their capabilities. But that does not excuse their regular head droppings when they concede. Determination, character and fight does not require confidence. It requires heart, pride and a hunger to prevent defeat. None of that is in abundance.
But that is not to mask their failings. Scratch beneath the dearth of mental attributes and you will quickly realise that this side is not League One standard. Neil Austin is past it. Sam Collins can too easily be exposed. The shocking decline in performance from Peter Hartley must now ask questions about his ability. Maybe last year’s player of the season displays from Hartley were flukes.
Paul Murray can halt patient attacks but has no answer in repressing counter-attacks. Simon Walton’s love affair with pretty football is bordering on foolish. He hides when the going is tough. Ryan Noble, Jono Franks, Andy Monkhouse, Ritchie Humpheys, Antony Sweeney – they are not League One standard.
John ‘Yogi’ Hughes arrived last week from Livingston as Neale Cooper’s successor and faces an almighty challenge to arrest the sinking slide. One suspects he can’t wait until the summer when he can rid the team of its dire footballers.
You can find me on Twitter @cmbell310 for Pool chat.