Hartlepool United players given licence to thrill

Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison sees the funny side. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison sees the funny side. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool United’s team will know exactly what is required of them when they start a National League promotion push.

However, manager Craig Harrison says he is happy to give his players a licence to thrill in the final third of the field.

Scoring goals is the hardest thing in football – sometimes you have to allow a bit of creative imagination

CRAIG HARRISON

If Pools are to get back into the Football League they need goals and Harrison will give them freedom to play.

“We have a structure on the way we defend without the ball,” said the boss. “But when we are in the final third then it is down to the players.

“We’ll give them four to five options on what they are doing.

“But scoring goals is the hardest thing in football – sometimes you have to allow a bit of creative imagination and let the players off the lead a little bit to go and fulfil that.

“You can’t be too structured and rigid in that final third, which is the most important part of the pitch.

“We do sessions in training that replicate that.

“We give them problems in training sessions and get them to come up with the solutions.

“We will be well structured in how I want us to defend and how to get the ball back and such forth.

“But I am a huge believer that, in the final third, there’s no point having creative players and then nullifying them and telling them they have to do this and this alone.

“I want them to have the creative licence to go and score the goals.”

Harrison has been very much a tracksuit boss since his arrival at Victoria Park from The New Saints.

He has not shut himself away in an office and left it to the coaching staff – he’s got onto the fields at Maiden Castle and the Racecourse to impart his knowledge.

And he says the sessions have proved productive, esecially the specialist work carried out by himself, assistant boss Paul Jenkins and first-team coach Matthew Bates.

“The first few weeks involved more physical demands,” Harrison explained.

“But the last couple of weeks have been more about tweaking things, doing half-pitch practices, 11 v 11, combination play.

“We’ve done a lot of work on the units, Jenks, Batesy and me.

“I’ve predominantly done the midfield, Jenks the attacking lads and Batesy the defence.

“Then all that’s been taken onto the 11 v 11 stuff and it’s worked really well.”