Pools boss’s big plans for Hartlepool

Hartlepool United manager John Hughes presents Street League participant Bronwin Davis with her certificate during the presentations at the Belle Vue Centre.
Hartlepool United manager John Hughes presents Street League participant Bronwin Davis with her certificate during the presentations at the Belle Vue Centre.

HE stopped short of saying that he is falling in love with Hartlepool and Hartlepool United.

But you can tell that John Hughes is taking to the people and everything Pools.

So much so that he is determined to give the fans, the town and the club’s owners a team which they can be proud of.

“My biggest drive is to take Hartlepool as high as the Championship, I really think we can do,” said the ambitious, ebullient and eloquent Scot.

“We are in a dogfight right now, but hopefully we can stay up.

“If that wasn’t the case and I get the time and we take one step down to come two forward and we are sitting in the top few places for promotion, winning most weeks, I was told we would double our fan base.

“That’s what a Hartlepool supporter told me – they want winning football, I want winning AND attractive football.

“Let’s jump on the back of what we did last weekend against Stevenage, let’s embrace it and try and make it quicker and better.

“It may not happen every week, but the determination is there.

“If we get a win, the belief and shot in the arm it would give us could be huge.

“It’s hard to not put too much pressure on the boys to get that win and end the run.

“It’s about mindset.

“I’m caught between a rock and a hard place and I don’t want to put expectations on them.

“I’ve been very careful. There’s a lack of confidence, so I’m letting them go out there and express themselves and be natural.

“If I put that together with my style of football then they will enjoy it.

“I’m honest enough to know one or two see it different and think it will never get us results – but as long as I’m manager here it will get done my way and I want to bring a style of football to the club that will get supporters excited.

“Let’s be spirited and have values and pride – people will see us going in the right direction.”

Hughes is beginning to find his feet, not only on the training ground but in the town.

Yesterday he was at Belle Vue Sports Centre handing out certificates to members of a Street League and later was in attendance when Drive Vauxhall were presenting kits to Hartlepool’s town school teams.

It’s all part of his plan to “engage” with people.

And even though no wins have arrived, the town’s folk and fans seem to be warming to him and vice versa.

“There’s a drive to succeed here at Hartlepool,” said the 48-year-old.

“The people are my kind of people.

“I’m not patronising them, but they are like minded.

“We lost to Coventry in the first game and someone said ‘I see you’ve not made it any better’!

“I love the banter, love it.

“That’s football isn’t it? I can take the banter, it has gone out of football but we have to make sure it’s there.”

And the desire to entertain is there as much as his determination to win.

“I don’t get excited by victories.

“I get more excited by good performances because when you have them, they will get you victories.

“I get inspired by supporters around the town.

“One said he me he had been watching Pools for the last 10 years and this is the best he has seen us play for five.

“I’m hoping the supporters are knowledgeable in appreciating how we go about playing our football.

“I’ve seen it grow by the week, let’s keep it growing.”

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough have agreed to let striker Charlie Wyke remain on loan with Hartlepool United for a third and final month until 9 January.

The 20-year-old, who has made five first-team appearances at Victoria Park, made his second start for Pools in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by Stevenage.

“I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Charlie,” boss John Hughes told the club website.

“We’re thankful for Middlesbrough in allowing us to extend the deal.”

Hughes added: “I’m looking forward to seeing more of Charlie in action in the coming month.”