Hartlepool owners IOR must show desire of early reign

In 16 years of owning Hartlepool United, on-the-pitch matters have never been more important than this for owners IOR.

In the wake of Neale Cooper’s sad resignation last week, IOR, and especially chairman Ken Hodcroft, must act decisively and make the correct appointment to replace the likable Scot. By that it has be a manager who can shake the current crop of players up, rid the squad of the bad eggs and have no previous links with HUFC.

IOR have done wonders for the football club on a whole, than can never, ever, ever (I could repeat that lexis to my heart’s content) never be underestimated and forgotten. Without IOR, we would no longer be a Football League club. We would be where our neighbours Darlington are, as the familiar adage goes now.

IOR came in 1997 with an ambition: to resurrect a flailing football club and to get them moving. Mission complete. Even when the club returned to the basement tier in 2006, IOR were undeterred. In came in Danny Wilson, a shrewd appointment indeed. Wilson knows his football, he knows the lower-leagues, he knows how to set teams up, he knows good players and he can man-manage. IOR, one presumes, stretched their purse strings to bring Wilson in. They must do the same again if they are to prove they are still owning this football club not just for business purposes.

Why the discontent in my words? Because for five and a bit seasons HUFC have just rode the tide of League One. Twice they have arrested their slide towards the League One trapdoor on the last day of the season, and three times they have bobbled along mediocrity like a bhoy in the ocean: causing no damage whatsoever to the big boys of the league but remaining pesent and one to negotiate around. This time rounds it’s entirely different: Pools are rock bottom of the league, cut adrift of safety and in serious danger of sinking back into League Two. The sinking ship needs rescuing. Quickly.

For that to happen IOR have to respond quickly. They were right to describe their acceptance of Cooper’s resignation as “reluctant” for although he cannot be immune to criticism (three poor summer signings, odd subs and selections), there are far greater worries at the club. But, as always in football, it is the manager who pays for it and takes the flack.

The current squad is not good enough for League One football, that being shown by the fact they have forced three mangers out of the door in 24 months due to there ineptitude. There also seems to be a contingent of that club who are happy to plod along and from the outside looking in with an intriguing eye, there is no coaching system in place. It’s either route-one and back to the opposition with any pressure to regain possession or pass the ball along the defence with the intention of playing from the back. Except with a flat back line and passing the ball across your 18-yard box, the intention, seemingly, is to invite the opposition on to score; that is poor coaching. The team needs to be coached by an experienced coach. Micky Barron and (Sir) Ritchie Humphreys are great club servants, together amassing more than 900 games for the club but persisting with the duo as the club’s only coaches is not going to reap rewards. They need back up.

This really is a crucial time in IOR’s tenure at Victoria Park. Unless they act correctly in bringing in a manager who knows League One football, can operate on a small, restrictive budget, can enable the players to start grinding out wins, HUFC will not be playing third-tier football for a while long yet.

Instead of placing all their eggs in one basket on the ground sale (which is essential for the club to move forward), Hodcroft must spread his basket far wider than the stubborn council and invest in the team or else the consequences could be dire. Time to mirror the desire you showed so eloquently in the late 1990s and pre-2007, IOR.

You can find me on Twitter @cmbell310 for Pool chat.


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