Matthew Bates cannot fault Hartlepool United players after they buy into new philosophy
Matthew Bates admits he cannot fault the attitude or application of the Hartlepool United squad since he was handed the temporary reins.
Bates has been in charge of Pools for five games, having been thrown into the hotseat after the sacking of former TNS boss Craig Harrison after just eight months at Victoria Park.
His first game, having only had one full training session alone with his players, was an abject defeat to Ebbsfleet United.
But from that low Pools have been on an upward curve.
They were a referee’s call away from at least a point in defeat at Aldershot, then they recorded two battling draws against promotion-chasing Boreham Wood and then from 3-1 down at AFC Fylde.
And finally, their positivity was rewarded on Wednesday when, again coming from behind, Pools recorded their first win under Bates this season.
“I cannot thank the lads enough,” said Bates of his players, who sit just three points above the National League relegation zone.
“They have been absolutely magnificent since I have taken caretaker charge.
“This group is together, and they are all fighting for each other.”
Bates has freshened things up on and off the park at the Vic.
Formations and systems have had a revamp – gone is the one up top model, in its place a fluid 4-1-2-1-2, giving the midfield licence to roam.
The coaching methods are new. In has come Ross Turnbull, who has been a revelation with Scott Loach, and Ged McNamee, who has similarly worked wonders for the likes of Blair Adams and Louis Laing.
Those two new voices, along with Bates, have breathed new life into what was looking like a stale, predictably dull, Pools XI.
Confidence and freedom has been preached, too. And the rank and file at Pools are converted.
Bates admits he is delighted the way the players have bought into the way he wants to play.
“The squad have been brilliant for us,” said Bates.
“They have bought into what we want to do. That was evident last week at Barrow.
“We kept two up front and stopped balls from the front.
“That was one of the most pleasing things for me.
“We kept them out magnificently in that second half. I was really pleased with the shape of the team.
“We maybe showed Fylde a bit too much respect, but that was not the case against Barrow.
“To me, that is another good sign. It shows the players are learning each game.”
Character is one thing Pools have seen questioned in recent times, especially with the moniker of ‘Pools worst ever team’ over their heads.
But Bates thinks the fact they’ve gone behind in their last two games and rescued four points is telling.
“We went behind against the run of play last week, and that knocked the stuffing out of us,” he said.
“They had chances then we regrouped at half-time and it worked.
“We showed something to come back from that position.”