Managerial dress rehearsals have Matthew Bates primed for the main event at Hartlepool United
Matthew Bates believes his caretaker stints at the Hartlepool helm mean he's perfectly primed to make a permanent National League mark.
The former defender takes charge of his maiden game as a full-time boss tomorrow, when Pools travel to Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium.
It comes after two separate spells in temporary charge at Victoria Park. The first for three games in 2017, as Pools were relegated from the Football League, and the second last season’s National League turnaround, where Bates, with much of an influence, steered the club away from successive relegations.
Those experiences, Bates thinks, have worked as perfect preparation for stepping into the dugout full-time.
“I feel 100% ready,” he said of this weekend’s encounter.
“It (the Pools job) is something I have enjoyed and something I have taken to very well.
“I look at it from the start of the summer - everything was still up in the air. We had a new owner, no one knows how that will go. We had new staff, pre-season, etc.
“Now looking back on the summer there are no excuses. Everything has been set up for us behind the scenes, the preparation is done. It’s time to perform.
“For a first job I couldn’t have asked for a better job. I am thankful for that. I want to prove that the owner was right to hand me the job.”
The manager, who has a full complement of players to choose from this weekend after Andrew Davies shrugged off a knock, continued: “Without the two little stints it would have been difficult.
“Just day-to-day things like negotiating contracts, speaking to players, setting up sessions. It is all new. So having that little stint has helped.”
Still fresh to the role Bates is still honing his own style, both off the field and on it, in the managerial game.
But one thing he is determined to do, is stay true to himself.
Honesty when dealing with players, coaches, press and the wider footballing community is something he stands by.
And that’s particularly pertinent when dealing with his squad, with a number of awkward conversations set to take place over the next few days with regards selection.
“I might sound simple but you have to be honest with the players,” he said.
“I need to speak to those who are not in the squad but that has to be done.
“If you start lying then they will come to you for an excuse in their own head. You need to be straight with them.
“Tell the players the truth - which is not what they always want to hear - they will not always come to see you. But that’s the way to deal with it.
“In any walk of life honesty counts for a lot. People respect honesty and that’s the way I want to be.”