HARTLEPOOL United’s new management team will not make the mistake of committing themselves to a certain formation as they prepare to experiment against Almere City tonight.
Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett are set enjoy their first game in the Pools dugout when they take on the Dutch second-division outfit in Heiloo (kick-off 7pm, local time).
It was 12 months ago that then manager Neale Cooper very quickly determined not only his favoured system – 4-4-2 – but also declared his starting XI for the new season.
Cooper and Hignett, however, insist they will explore several formations, preferring rather to unearth a style best suited to the personnel.
The pair put their new charges through a double session yesterday at their north Netherlands base and a match-preparation exercise was planned for this morning.
But assistant boss Hignett says it would be foolish to impose a definite formation on the players at this stage of pre-season.
“We’ve got a style of football which we want to play and that won’t change, but in terms of formations we’re pretty open-minded,” Hignett told SportMail from the team hotel.
“We are looking at all formations really and we haven’t sat down and said ‘this is what we’re definitely going to do’.
“I think it’s best to see what we’ve got and have a good look at the players first.”
Indeed, one criticism of Pools last season was that, when Plan A failed, there was no alternative.
Hignett is wary of such shortcomings.
“You have to be flexible now,” he went on.
“If we can work on different formations for different scenarios then all the better.
“For example, even as simple as playing differently at home and away.
“But it’s also about reacting to situations in games.
“So we’ll have a good look at everything and see what suits the players best.
“But we still hope that our attacking style will perhaps come through even at this early stage.”
Pools are now into the third day of their stay in Holland.
After this evening’s game with Almere they will again enjoy a double session tomorrow before taking on Telstar on Saturday afternoon.
And Hignett is enjoying the contiental training camp.
“From a point of view of getting to know the lads it is brilliant for us,” he added.
“The team-bonding aspect of these trips is always so valuable.
“But this is our first job together in management and already we’re in Europe – not bad!”
GET Thursday’s Mail for the best coverage of Hartlepool United’s tour of the Netherlands