MP WRITES: More goals must be Pools’ main priority

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If you follow a proper football team, rather than one which might have zillions of pounds to spend on player transfers and wages from a generous benefactor, the chances are you spend much of your time disappointed.

There is little chance of silverware, but you console yourself with the prospects of a decent cup run or, my preference, the hope of promotion.

More often than not, however, you end up disappointed on most Saturdays at about 5pm.

If you are a Hartlepool United fan, you’re disappointed more than most.

Pools is famously the club that had to seek re-election to the Football League on more occasions than any other club.

Historically speaking, the last 15 years or so have been a bit of a golden age, where we became an established club in the third division of English football and were only eight minutes away from being promoted to the championship in that glorious play-off final in Cardiff.

That play-off final took place in 2005, but as a lifelong Pools fan it could be a million years ago.

As I write this, we are bottom of the Football League and after the 3-0 defeat by Carlisle on Saturday, Colin Cooper resigned.

Pools is now looking for its 12th manager of the 21st century. We have had four managers in two years and are about to embark on our fifth.

I’m disappointed that Cooper has resigned. I’ve met him a couple of times and have been impressed by his passion, commitment and discipline he brought to the game.

I think he has the makings of a fine manager and I wish him well for the future.

He has suffered enormous tragedy with the death of his son Finlay, and it is a credit to the man that he and his family channelled that grief into a positive charity that raises funds for children.

However, despite the obvious merits and long term potential of the man it was inevitable that he would have to be relieved of his duties.

I go to Pools’ matches with my dad and brother, as I have done for donkey’s years, and we commented on Saturday how Cooper’s body language was very revealing. He rarely left the dugout and seemed a man defeated.

To be fair to Colin Cooper, there is a long term issue that needs to be addressed. We don’t score enough goals.

There has been a steady but clear decline in the number of goals scored in the league over the past decade.

We averaged about 70 goals per season ten years ago, but for the past five seasons we have averaged about 50 goals; when we were relegated from League One in 2012-13, we only scored 39 goals, the lowest in the entire Football League.

Eleven games into the season, we have only scored five league goals, again the fewest amount in the entire football league.

Those lost 20 goals per season over the last ten years are the reason for our problems.

The next manager, whoever that may be, needs urgently to address the long term decline in goals as his top priority.

I don’t subscribe to the view by Bill Shankley that football is not life and death, it’s more important than that.

After writing recent columns about military action against Islamic State and the future of the United Kingdom, watching Pools is always going to be light relief, no matter how poor our form is.

But Cardiff in 2005 showed how success on the pitch can lift and inspire an entire town.

Propping up the rest of the Football League can demoralise a town too.

There is still time in this season for the new manager to change fortunes around, but I think I speak for all Pools’ fans by saying that in order to do so and to be entertained on a Saturday, we need to see goals at the Vic as the top priority.