New Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett, it was always going to be ex-Middlesbrough favourite

Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett at the end of the FA Cup replay against Coventry City in 2013. Picture by FRANK REID
Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett at the end of the FA Cup replay against Coventry City in 2013. Picture by FRANK REID

It was always going to be Craig Hignett.

Within minutes of the news of Ronnie Moore’s departure from Hartlepool United, speculation began on who would be the club’s 35th post-war manager and the 10th in the last 10 years.

He has coached in both League Two and the Championship – to an extremely high standard

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Hignett was the bookies’ favourite and, not for the first time, the bookies got it right.

On paper, the 46-year-old might, like Paul Murray last season, be viewed as a bold appointment in the circumstances. Hignett has never managed in the Football League. But he has coached in both League Two and the Championship – to an extremely high standard it has to be reported.

Hignett was the right-hand-man for Colin Cooper when Pools appointed the former Boro defender in the summer of 2013, following relegation from League One.

This reporter was not alone in hoping the double act could become another Clough-Taylor success story.

And for a while it looked so promising, until his beloved Boro came calling.

Hignett’s talent had been spotted and then rewarded when he was named as Aitor Karanka’s assistant.

The Scouser left Pools just six points off the League Two play-offs and was heavily credited with the success of a teenage Luke James up front.

It is, perhaps, no coincidence that Pools dropped like a stone following his departure and ended up in a dicey relegation battle before surviving thanks to an Easter Monday win over Morecambe.

Hignett would make his mark at Boro, his coaching role and man-mangement skills playing a major part in Boro’s rise to the top of the Championship.

But it ended on a sour note, Higgy quitting after a fall-out with Karanka. The Pools job came up immediately after Murray’s reign was brought to an abrupt halt after only 44 days.

The former Middlesbrough forward, whose playing career had ended at Pools in 2007 during Danny Wilson’s promotion triumph, decided NOT to enter the race to be the new manager.

Moore was the choice – and what a choice as the veteran manager pulled off a Houdini-like escape act to keep Pools in the Football League.

But with Pools currently 22nd in the table and under threat of relegation, chairman Gary Coxall dismissed Moore and turned to another footballing son of Liverpool.

Hignett this time felt the time was right and now has the chance to show he can be a hit as a number one.

– ROY KELLY