SAM Collins has called for “100 per cent effort” again from his Hartlepool side as they look to pull themselves clear of the bottom of the Football League.
Pools travelled down to Devon today ahead of tomorrow’s match away to Exeter City at St James’ Park in Sky Bet League Two (KO 3pm).
Collins is currently in caretaker charge alongside coach Stephen Pears following Colin Cooper’s resignation and the pair will be in the dugout again tomorrow looking to get back to winning ways.
Pools go into the match on the back of a 2-1 midweek defeat to Sheffield United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy but it was a much-improved performance from a young side.
Despite former Carlisle United boss Graham Kavanagh and Hartlepool-born Mark Venus strong contenders for the vacant manager’s job, Collins remains in overall charge.
There was no pre-match press conference ahead of the long trip south, the club deciding to cancel the weekly conference.
But speaking after the Blades defeat Collins spoke passionately about Pools and came across well prepared, organised and enthusiastic about the challenge of turning the season around.
For now though, the focus is on beating The grecians, currently in 14th place, and trying to repeat last season’s result – a 3-0 win for Pools.
Collins said: “We know Exeter have been doing well.
“I have done a lot of work on them, similar to what I did on Sheffield United, and I wanted to give the players as much information as possible. “We can’t fear them and we have to be hard to beat and cause them problems.
“We had a really good result there last season and we are more than capable of doing that again.
“I asked the lads for 100 per cent effort on Tuesday, to stick together and do their jobs properly and all of them tried to do that.
“We have to move on though because the most important game is against Exeter.
“If we get the same type of performance with the same type of enthusiasm and people wanting to fight for each other, then we have a chance.
“The most important thing is to get wins and start climbing this league.”
The interim boss saw enough positives against the Blades to suggest an upturn in fortune may be just round the corner.
It will be hard though for a team desperately lacking in confidence and chronically shy of goals - just five league goals scored all season.
Collins added: “We know the situation we are in and need to nurture the younger players but we need to get results as well.
“There was a lot of promising signs from the team, not just the youngsters but the senior professionals did well too.
“I understand the leagues because I have played in them for a long time.
“You put defenders under pressure and they will make mistakes but there is no point killing ourselves by trying to be clever in our own half.”
Collins, who admitted to being frustrated he couldn’t play himself the other night, said he hadn’t slept for three nights before the Blades match and his phone has never stopped.
He added: “I had all the players in on Sunday and tried to think if I was still playing what would I want a manager to say to me.
“I put a presentation together with statistics about us and what we could improve on.
“I know we lost the [Sheffield United] match but we were better in those areas and that is positive.
“I have always been well organised as a person and as a professional footballer because I understood what it took to be one.
“One day I want to be manager and you have to be the same way - you have to be prepared and I will do that with the team until I am told otherwise.”