A dramatic day as Hartlepool Utd finally name their new boss

John Hughes

John Hughes

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EVEN before the unfolding of yesterday’s drama, the task at Victoria Park was undeniably unenviable.

The numbers illustrate the hardship – nine points from safety, 16 without a win, 40 conceded and 14 scored, not exactly the blueprint for survival.

But then, in what was a stupefying turn of events, Pools’ three-week search for a new manager was condensed into as many hours.

John Hughes – stood on a blustery touchline in front of a reserve-team fixture in Scotland – was hastily contacted.

He was soon presented persuasion that he, after all, was the man they wanted.

Earlier, manager-elect Phil Brown had exited talks with the club’s hierarchy having reached a stand-off over the terms of a contractual clause.

His chance was gone.

Enter Hughes.

By half past six it was official.

The 48-year-old had been prominent throughout the recruitment process and, evidently, had impressed during interview.

But Brown was the manager the fans craved and, until yesterday afternoon, it appeared Pools had shared that desire.

And that, in the short term at least, is an unwelcome obstacle for Hughes to overcome.

For him to arrive to the backdrop of such confusion and supporter unrest is unfair.

He is a man who, according to sources north of the border, is amiable and fierce in equal measure.

He’s going to have to draw on both of those qualities during coming weeks.

“Underwhelming” was the over-riding emotion among fans following the announcement.

They had anticipated a manager boasting Premier League pedigree and the contacts to boot.

And so it is that the challenge awaiting Hughes has been amplified by the proximity of the two happenings – the collapse of Brown and subsequent news of his arrival.

The Scot can be apportioned no blame for that, far from it.

It is, however, an atmosphere he inherits, for there is a chasm between the club and its supporters at present.

And all of this is before we get to matters on the pitch.

There, the scale of his job becomes even more daunting.

Hughes will have to work with the personnel presented to him today, there is no room for manoeuvre when it comes to signings.

His motivational powers have been lauded by those who have brought him south – he’s going to need them.

For both Neale Cooper and, admirably during his caretaker tenure, Micky Barron, have tried and failed to arrest that sorry slide towards League Two.

And that is where we hit upon Hughes’ most obvious ally – results.

For no matter the dissatisfaction at the loss of Brown, no matter the players he picks or tactics he employs, if John Hughes wins football matches then all of the above is rendered academic.

Yes, his is a charge made harder by the messy nature of his appointment, but his personality points to a single-minded bloodiness.

He’ll know what he has to do.

Results are the remedy.