PAUL Murray believes hard graft with individuals is helping improve his under-pressure Hartlepool United squad.
The 38-year-old is only four weeks into his first managerial role and he couldn’t have asked for a tougher challenge with Pools bottom of the Football League.
But as he continues to get to know his players Murray is adamant he is seeing improvements in the squad.
They need to improve quickly with Pools recording just 12 points so far, the side currently three points from safety with a goal difference of -16.
Fellow strugglers York City visit Victoria Park on Saturday and the pressure is really on the home side to win only their fourth match of the season.
Murray said: “I want to work with the players and I want to improve them.
“We’ve done bits with players individually after training and speaking to them one on one.
“Where do they see themselves? What’s their best position and the like.
“I feel it’s important to speak to them and know their feelings and situations.
“I knew quite a few of the players when I came here already but I’ve also got to find out what they are like as people.
“What makes them tick? How can I help them? What is their character like?
“I want to manage them to get the best out of them and it is about them getting to know me too.
“My door is always open and I will always be honest.
“I will listen to them and welcome their opinions as long as it’s delivered in the right way.”
Murray admitted to having sleepless nights in the opening couple of weeks in the Victoria Park hotseat, not surprising given the form.
He added: “I’ve been here a few weeks and I’m sleeping easier now, generally every night I’m getting to sleep.
“There’s still stuff I want to bring to the club and I’m doing it in baby steps but there’s been an improvement and we are seeing it.”
Hands-on Murray is very much a tracksuit manager, both on the touchline on match days and on the training pitches at Maiden Castle, in Durham.
One player he believes he can improve the most, is midfielder Brad Walker, whose form has dipped this campaign after an impressive opening season as a professional footballer.
Murray added: “I said to Bradley that I know what he is capable of but he has loads to learn and is nowhere near the finished article.
“He can be better defensively and he can use the ball better.
“I’ve told him not to worry about making errors and that we can make him better.
“The worst thing you can do is give the ball away so when you do, make sure you win it back.
“As soon as you give it away then the best chance you have of getting it back is within three seconds – I used to do it a lot, maybe because I used to give it away a lot!”
Murray took charge following Colin Cooper’s resignation and he has been quick to put his stamp on the squad.
“There’s no point in looking back, it’s a fresh slate for me,” added Murray.
“I want them to go out and play. I’ve said go out there and take that chance.”