Four Hartlepool United signings arrive in one go, as Loach, George, Munns and Cassidy join Pools
Talk about not messing about.
Craig Harrison was not content with a single arrival on what turned out to be a frantic day at Hartlepool United.
Yesterday had a ‘Londonbus’ feel to it – you wait ages for one and then four come along at once.
Pools had waved farewell to 12 players since the end of last season and Harrison has begun replenishing the squad with the arrival of what you must figure is a quartet crucial to his National League hopes.
His fab four all fill key roles.
Keeper Scott Loach will take over the gloves following Trevor Carson’s departure.
Luke George looks like providing the steel in the centre of the park.
Jack Munns is an attacking midfielder or forward who is capable of supplying goals AND creating them.
Striker Jake Cassidy is a strong forward who knows where the goal is.
Harrison, who has now been at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium for two weeks, said it has been a busy fortnight in his new role.
The 39-year-old said a lot of thought and miles went into his ‘shopping spree’.
“I watch a lot of games and when I am watching them, I make a lot of notes along the lines of ‘if I got an opportunity here or there, I would take that player or this player’,” he said.
“I have a lot of notes with details of players and when I got an opportunity two weeks ago to become the proud manager of Hartlepool United the wheels started to turn straight away.
“I have been constantly on the phone to agents and to players.
“When you bring players in and all of the work comes to fruition, it makes it all worth it and this has been a very good day.
“We have brought some good players in – it isn’t just a case of bringing anyone in, we have picked players who can complement the squad in different areas of the pitch.
“Individual players will win you nothing – they might have flashes of brilliance, but they have to play in a system or a formation.
“We have to be a well-oiled machine to make the whole a lot better than just individuals.
“We have brought in a range of skills and positions, but that’s key more than anything, it is not about who is available, it is the best players for our combination and position.”
All four, on paper, look like good pieces of business.
Loach, who stands at 6ft 3in, is a long-time Championship keeper with Watford and Ipswich.
A regular England Under 21 player, was performing so well, he twice received call-ups into Fabio Capello’s England squads
Since leaving Ipswich in 2014, the 29-year-old has moved around a lot, especially on loan, including nine appearances last season at York in the National League last season.
“He comes with a lot of experience and has played at all different levels, “ said Harrison, in an interview with the club’s website.
“He has a big presence has all of the attributes we were looking for. He is a fantastic addition to bring into a reasonably young group.”
George, who has skippered both Southport and Chester in the fifth tier, looks in his prime at the age of 24.
Describing himself as a “ball-winner”, the Scouser will bring hard edge to the midfield where Pools, traditionally in recent times fielded footballers as opposed to hardmen.
“I have seen a lot of Chester’s National League games and Luke was one who was always combative, very aggressive and puts his foot in,” said Harrison. “He closes teams down and does the side of the game that modern football forgets about, but I think it is very important with the balance of the team and he caught my eye.”
If George puts his foot in, Munns is more a case of fleet of foot.
Still just 23, the Londoner was well schooled at Spurs and Charlton as a teenager but made his breakthrough at Cheltenham.
The attacking player starred in the National League promotion success enjoyed by the Robins in 2015-16, though he made only eight starts last season before being released last month.
“Jack can play anywhere across the front, a withdrawn striker, out and out, left wing, right wing, midfield,” commented the boss.
“We don’t want to be too regimental or too rigid going forward – we have to be at the back – but I like to have more fluidity in the final third and the likes of Jack give you that option to play in three or four positions.”
Perhaps the most intriguing signing of the four was the first through the door – Cassidy.
Harrison discovered the young Welshman playing local football, leading to a move to Wolves, though his best days came at Tranmere, where Ronnie Moore was his boss.
A broken leg at Oldham affected his career but eight goals last season at Guiseley in the fifth tier have put him back on track.
“You know what you get from him,” said Harrison. “He had a little bit of a tough time with injury, but last season he played for a few months at Guiseley and that gave him his confidence back.
“When I came in here, he was always someone I was going to go full pelt to get in.”
Harra’s first four are in – expect more arrivals soon.