“THE fightback starts now”.
That was the message from Pools chief executive Russ Green today as the club comes to terms with the “embarrassment” of relegation from League One.
Oldham Athletic’s 1-0 win over Yeovil Town last night sealed their fate with two matches of the campaign still to play.
Manager John Hughes and his players must now run out at Victoria Park against Brentford on Saturday tea-time – a fixture live on Sky - knowing they are headed for League Two next season.
But Green is determined to see Pools make a double-quick return to the third-tier stage they have called home for a club-record six seasons.
“I’m gutted but the fightback starts now,” he told SportMail.
“We have to get back to where we belong.
“It is an embarrassment getting relegated.
“The fans have been fantastic and have stuck by us.
“We now have to rebuild in the summer and come back stronger next season.”
Hughes will now look to accelerate close-season plans in a bid to reshape his playing staff and we understand the Scot is keen to stamp his own mark on the squad.
Several will be out of contract come June and no decision has yet been made on their future, the club having already admitted they will have to trim the wage bill in light of reduced revenues in the fourth tier.
And Green admits the current team has come up short this year, especially given his pre-season expectations.
“We started the season expecting to be in the play-offs, it’s the first time in a lot of years we have felt like that,” he went on, Neale Cooper having began the term in charge.
“There’s been a lot of bad luck but we can only blame that so much.
“I go to every game home and away and it’s not been good enough.
“I go back to the start of the season.
“We were winning 1-0 at home to Carlisle but then lost 2-1 with two late goals.
“The following week we drew 1-1 at Bournemouth but conceded a 95th-minute equaliser.
“That was the start of 22 games without a win.
“Every game seemed to follow the same pattern after that.
“We started conceding last-minute goals, decisions weren’t going our way and we started to struggle to score.
“Everything conspired against us and it stayed that way for too long.
“It has led to this but we’ve got to look forward and that means finishing the season as best we can and then bouncing back next year.”