FIVE plus points from Richard Money's Hartlepool United FA Trophy curtain raiser
Richard Money's Hartlepool United reign kicked off with a hard-fought, battling FA Trophy win at Leamington.
It comes seven days after Craig Hignett guided Pools to their first win since October last weekend at Maidenhead United.
So what’s changed at the Super 6 Stadium?
Here’s some adjustments and improvements overseen by the new regime, as well as reasons to be positive heading into the festive period.
Three at the back was one of the Hartlepool hallmarks of Matthew Bates’ tenure.
No matter the result, or performance, the former boss was reluctant to switch to a four, only doing so when selection issues forced his hand down at Gillingham in the FA Cup.
The first thing Money did when he came in was return to a more orthodox defensive four.
And it’s clearly something that suits the Pools playing staff down to the ground.
The two players who benefit most from that are the full-backs - Mark Kitching and Kenton Richardson.
Kitching is no wing-back, that has been plain to see from the start of the season, but put him in a four and he dovetails perfectly, due to his solid defensive work.
The same can be said of Richardson. While he is a defender who likes to get forward, he is not really comfortable playing higher up the park as par for the course.
Saturday was an awful day for football - it was the case across the land, not just in the Midlands.
This was no day for free-flowing, passing stuff. Pragmatism won the day.
Despite that, it was clear to see Pools tried their best to entertain.
And a lot of that can be put down to the approach of the manager.
While Nicky Featherstone kept things moving and Ryan Donaldson and Josh Hawkes tried their best to carve open the opposition, it was Money’s intent to keep the opposition pinned back which stood out the most.
All too often with time ticking away manager’s take their lot and shut up shop - Money stuck to his guns.
He made positive changes and stuck with his three forward players right to the death.
TRAINING GROUND MORALE
Money has got the players’ vote. Word from the camp is that the new man is just what the doctor ordered.
His assured, confidence managerial approach has paid dividends in the short time he has been on the training pitches.
The continuity of having Ged McNamee around the place - an immensely popular figure in the dressing room - has also helped the transition from Hignett to Bates to Money.
Bates was not unpopular by the way, it’s just that a change seems like it was needed.
BIGGER IS BETTER Pools are a small side, there’s no getting away from that.
It seems like that’s something Money has realised from the off.
Bringing in defender Harvey Rodgers seems like a mini-masterstroke.
The centre-half was excellent at Leamington, adding size and stature to a Pools XI devoid of any noticeable height.
RECOGNITION OF FAULTS Experience is lacking and so too is a forward player. Money seems like he already had the finger on the pulse before he got the job.
He will bring in another player, maybe even this week.
And while the decision to bring back Lewis Hawkins was not one to get the pulses racing, it is a shrewd move ahead of a busy festive period.