Hartlepool United skipper Billy Paynter has say on Northampton boss Chris Wilder's verbal attack
When you are top of the league, you have earned the right to have your say.
And Chris Wilder put the cat among the pigeons after Saturday’s game at Victoria Park.
Perhaps cat among the seagulls would be more appropriate given the weekly invasion of the Vic by the hungry sea birds at full-time?
Wilder did not say it in explicit terms but if you read between the lines, and it was not difficult, his withering message was Hartlepool United’s players got Ronnie Moore the sack.
The Northampton boss had sat through the Stevenage game and was not impressed, but there again, who was?
This is what he said after seeing his team’s winning run end at 10 games against a vibrant Pools.
“I thought Hartlepool were excellent,” said Wilder. “If they ran around like they did today for the previous manager then he would still be here.
“I know there is always a reaction [to a new manager coming in] and I like Craig and [first-team coach] Curtis Fleming. I think they’re really good guys who try to play the right way.
“But I came to watch them against Stevenage and they never tried a leg and that is a bit of a joke to me.”
Was Wilder bitter because he was expecting three points after his scouting mission against the Boro and pesky Pools let him down by playing well?
Or was it because he’s a pal of Ronnie?
Or was he just giving an honest opinion?
Maybe a combination of all three?
Craig Hignett, who Wilder was at pains to point out that he likes and has no axe to grind, did not rise to the bait in his post-match media conference.
Higgy is a bright fella, he’s hardly going to slate the players he is now trying to coax winning football from is he?
“I can’t talk about Ronnie and how he went about it,” said the 46-year-old.
“All I can talk about is what I see and what we try to do since I came in.
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“Chris has been in the game a long time and is entitled to his opinion.
“When you see this performance and some from earlier in the season it is chalk and cheese.
“I’m not worried about that and what he says – I want to concentrate on our team, our shape, the lads here and getting them happy again.
“I think you can see that on the pitch.”
Billy Paynter was asked the same question about what he thought about Wilder’s comments.
The club captain could have batted the question away, picked up his bottle of water and headed home.
But top marks to the 31-year-old, who was honest enough to say Pools had played badly that night, though there was no suggestion they had not tried.
“Unfortunately, that was the day Ronnie Moore went,” said Paynter.“The players were a bit flat that day.
“There’s not a lot more I can say, the chairman made the decision which was unfortunate.
“I got on with Ronnie Moore and Sam Collins - they brought me here, gave me the captaincy, so when I heard the news I was disappointed.
“But obviously he [Wilder] was here watching the game and that was his opinion. He’s probably right.”
Paynter denied there had been a dark cloud under Moore and now everything was sunshine.
“The lads were always positive,” said the striker. “It was just before the results and luck were not going for us.
“Losing is a horrible habit, no matter what happens things don’t go for you. On another day, we might have got a little bit of luck.
“The dressing room has always been bubbly, whoever the manager is the players will respond to him.”
The players certainly seem to be responding to Hignett and Paynter said Pools were happy with their 90-minute work.