Attack-minded Hartlepool United to '˜tighten up' at Yeovil
Craig Hignett often quips how he'd prefer Hartlepool United to win 5-4 instead of 1-0.
But perhaps not this week!
Hignett takes his side to Yeovil Town tomorrow for a crucial League Two match – even though the season is only a month old.
Pools are reeling from a shocking Saturday at Stevenage, where they lost 6-1 and but for a few saves from Adam Bartlett, the scoreline could have been worse.
Hignett holds stringent attacking beliefs and is unlikely to temper his views .
But he admits he will be reminding his players that there is “another side” to football – keeping the ball out of your own net.
While only three clubs have scored more than Pools, no team has conceded more in the division.
“I’ve been changing the mindset at the club since I came in,” he said. “Maybe I’ve tried to do it too quickly.
“I love the fact we go out to attack teams and believe we’ll score goals.
“But there’s another side to the game – when we lose the ball, there’s a job to be done defensively.
“We can’t just stay open, when we lose possession we have to understand there’s a big job to do for the team.
“Maybe we have to be set up to be hard to break down, hard to beat. We have spoken about it this week.
“The mindset is something I wanted to change here.
“I didn’t want us going into games thinking ‘let’s not get beaten’, I wanted us going into matches thinking let’s score as many as we can.
“Maybe it’s been too fast and they haven’t fully understood what I mean.
“Yes, I want us to attack and score loads of goals but being wide and open when we haven’t got the ball is not what proper football is all about.”
There were mitigating factors last week – the side were missing their three most senior central defenders, Matthew Bates, Rob Jones and Toto Nsiala.
Hignett will probably pair Nsiala and Jones, just as he did for the opening two Saturdays of the League Two programme.
Pools certainly missed the physique and leadership of Jones at Stevenage, he can dominate a box in which Boro seemingly had total control of.
The 36-year-old has trained at Maiden Castle after recovering from back trouble and is almost certain to start while Hignett will wait on Bates.
“Rob has trained all week, we’ll assess Matty and there’s one or two little niggles and knocks we need to check on,” said the manager who has been pleased by the reaction in training.
“The lads were a bit subdued earlier in the week, but they are lifted now.
“Training has been good, we’ve laid down some principles, gone over some old stuff again, the reaction has been good.
“It was a result and performance which shocked me.
“It hurt. It’s not hard to put it to bed. You can’t dwell on it and there’ll be no hangover going into tomorrow.
“The players are under no illusion know what is expected.
“The disappointment for me was the manner of the defeat, giving up, I’ve not seen that since I came to the club.
“The week before we had 10 men for 90-odd minutes and bossed the game
“Energy levels and fitness levels have been good, they did not come into it last Saturday.
“It was about desire and mental toughness and we were lacking.”
Hignett is likely to go 4-4-2 tomorrow with skipper Billy Paynter starting.
Pools (probable): Carson, Magnay, Nsiala, Jones, Carroll, Alessandra, Featherstone, Woods, Thomas, Paynter, Amond
Subs (from): Bartlett, Richards, Bates, Laurent, Deverdics, Hawkins, Fewster, Heardman