Ex-Middlesbrough coach Paul Jenkins will be no yes-man at Hartlepool United

Paul Jenkins: New assistant boss. Picture by BERNADETTE MALCOLMSON
Paul Jenkins: New assistant boss. Picture by BERNADETTE MALCOLMSON

Paul Jenkins is a lot of things.

Hartlepool United’s assistant boss is knowledgeable, meticulous, professional, liked and respected, among other things.

Former star pupil: Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing celebrates scoring for Boro. Picture by TOM COLLINS.

Former star pupil: Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing celebrates scoring for Boro. Picture by TOM COLLINS.

All that emerged during and after a 22-year service to Middlesbrough’s Academy at Rockliffe.

But one thing the Teessider is NOT and that’s a yes man.

If you have ever watched the hilarious Mike Bassett: England Manager, you will have seen his assistant Davie Dodds, brilliantly played by Bradley Walsh, a wicked take-off of Phil Neal, who was coach of the real England in the Graham Taylor era.

Neal came across as a real yes man in the infamous Impossible Job Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary on Taylor, which spawned the Mike Bassett film.

Everything just clicked after I sat down with Craig to talk football

PAUL JENKINS

But if a camera followed Jenkins and his gaffer, Craig Harrison, at Hartlepool United, don’t expect to hear the words “yes boss” all the time.

Managers often pick their best mates in football to work as their right-hand-man, whatever their CVs. It’s how the game usually works.

And while Harrison and Jenkins are old friends, stretching back to the last century at Boro where the Pools boss was a good defender, you would not class them as best pals.

This appointment is no old-pals-act, it’s business and for Harrison and Jenkins, the business is winning.

And the Teessider says the management team who have the task of leading Pools back into the Football League will “challenge” each other.

“Craig is a very good manager and has been very successful,” said Jenkins of the man who dominated Welsh football with The New Saints.

“The way we are, we’ll both challenge each other.

“That creates a healthy relationship and that’s vital.

“I’m not the sort of man who is just going to say yes to everything Craig says, and I wouldn’t want or expect that from him either. We’ve had disagreements already.

“We want to create a winning environment and we’ll do that by challenging each other.”

Don’t expect to hear them squabbling in tunnels or rowing on the training ground, but different opinions don’t do any harm, do they?

It has been noticeable that after each of the friendly games, Harrison has engaged his coaching team of Jenkins, Matthew Bates and Bernhard Hirmer in a post-match discussion.

Harrison’s off-field team are clearly just as important to him as his side on the field.

Jenkins certainly brings a wealth of experience from his time at Boro, where he has worked under and learned from numerous managers.

The 42-year-old has been responsible for bringing through a wealth of talent at Rockliffe, Stewart Downing ande Ben Gibson being two of his most notable success stories.

His departure came as something of a shock – many observers expected him to survive the shake-up post-Garry Monk’s appointment.

But he left by mutual agreement and Boro’s loss has been Hartlepool United’s gain and Jenkins told SportMail he had no hesitation in joining Harrison and joining the challenge of getting Pools back into the EFL.

“Everything just clicked after I sat down with Craig to talk football,” said Jenkins, who will be in the opposite dug-out to his hometown club this evening when Pools play Boro U23 at Victoria Park (kick-off 7.30pm).

“We have a mutual understanding about the game and how we want it to be played.

“The decision [to come here] was not difficult at all.

“It felt the right thing.

“After Middlesbrough, it was important for me to get back into the game as soon as possible. But it had to be the right job and this was.

“After 22 years at Boro, I didn’t want to just go into any job. I wanted a job that would fit me and challenge me and this it.

“Me and Craig have known each other for a long time.

“We have kept in touch with each other from back then.

“We’ve played against each other with Middlesbrough having friendlies against The New Saints and the club sent players to TNS on loan.

“I trusted him with our players so that shows the regard I’ve held him in.”

Trust is a key ingredient and Pools seem to have that in their management team.