Five issues facing Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett this week

This habit of snapping defeat from the jaws of victory is becoming a bit hard to stomach for Hartlepool United fans right now.

Sunday, 30th October 2016, 9:00 pm
Updated Monday, 31st October 2016, 8:52 am
Padraig Amond scores for Pools on Saturday

For anyone who was at the game, it was easy to see who was the better team.

Pools were simply head and shoulders above anything Barnet could muster.

Watching the visitors slick movement and sharp, incisive passing for almost an hour there looked to be only one winner at The Hive on Saturday.

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But nine crazy second half minutes deemed all of that hard work pointless, as Pools yet again capitulated under the League Two pressure.

And yet again we are talking about bad refereeing decisions, justifiably, awful decision-making in the defensive third and more points dropped from a winning position.

From some quarters within the Pools fanbase pressure is piling on the manager, that is not the case from within the halls of power at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

So where can Craig Hignett turn this around?

Here we take a look at five problematic areas, the gaffer must take a long, hard look at.

Lack of experience

From front to back Hartlepool lack experience.

The average of their squad is in the low to mid 20s. None of the starting XI from the weekend were over the age of 30.

While some might see that as positive, it is becoming apparent that this is an increasing problem for Pools.

The teams lacks leaders. It lacks lads who have been there and done that - the types who don’t panic when the walls are falling down around them.

Centre of defence

Pools boss Hignett has tried a number of different partnerships at the back this season, none of which seem to have worked perfectly.

Toto Nsiala and Scott Harrison definitely isn’t working right now.

Who does the manager turn to has to be the next question?

Matthew Bates and Rob Jones are the obvious two. But neither has played much football. Can either really be relied upon to play week-in, week-out just yet? Probably not.

Could it be any worse if one of the kids was given a chance at the back? There is the risk that it could damage their development, but the thing is it might just work. And it can’t be any worse that the present.

Dropped points from winning positions

This cannot go on. Plain and simple.

Pools have set themselves the very lofty ambition of making this season’s League Two play-offs.

At present they are going to fall well short of that target.

A lot of that is down to the defending but the mentality isn’t much better either.

When one thing goes wrong the team has the habit of retreating within themselves. They then proceed to collapse like a pack of cards.

They need to be better than that. They need to show character.

Find a way of replacing Nathan Thomas

This is probably the most pressing of all of Hignett’s issues.

Thomas is class. He is the man Pools look to for goals and assists in equal measure.

He will be very difficult to replace.

A change in system, or style of play might be the only way. Sunday’s FA Cup clash with Stamford could end up being a trial for a replacement, or for a new way of playing.

Dip into the market?

We don’t quite know what Pools budget for the winter window will be yet but the chairman seems prepared to sanction a few additions.

It might be the case that some of those plans may be brought forward, should this run continue.

They’re not easy to find but a midfielder enforcer, who has fourth tier experience, could be just what the doctor ordered for Pools.