Matthew Bates on his Hartlepool players' football intelligence and why they won't panic
There's no panic in the Pools camp.
Four games into the new season, Hartlepool United sit in 18th spot in the National League table, with three points and no wins to their name.
It’s not the start to the campaign that manager Matthew Bates, owner Raj Singh or director of football Craig Hignett wanted, especially after a positive summer that saw some experienced players brought to the club.
It’s not the start the squad wanted either, but that mix of experienced players and ambitious youngsters means that there is a calmness and ‘drive’ within the dressing room, says Bates.
‘Football intelligence’ among the Pools players will see them turn the results around – along with a little bit of help from Lady Luck.
“With the group that we’ve got, the setbacks gives them more drive,” said Bates. “I can hear what they’re saying in the dressing rooms and it drives them on.
“They’re intelligent footballers and they know when luck isn’t going our way. Luck plays a huge part in football games, it really does, and you need to be lucky on occasions.
“They will be more than determined to put it right on Saturday.
“If we weren’t playing well and hadn’t got a win, then they would be panicking, but I can assure you they’re not.”
Pools ARE playing well. The display at times against Braintree Town on Tuesday night was excellent and a first win is surely just around the corner, with a home game bottom side Maidenhead representing a great opportunity this weekend.
Bates was delighted with the performance at Cressing Road, if not the final result, and will consider naming an unchanged side after seeing the likes of Nicky Featherstone and Michael Woods excel on their return to the starting XI.
“The lads that came in were chomping at the bit,” he said.
“We looked a real, real threat going forward and I was really pleased with what I saw.
“The lads are disappointed but myself and (assistant) Ged (McNamee) have said that it’s football and things will change if we keep doing what we’re doing and keep believing in what we’re doing.
“Any supporter, any journalist can see that if we keep doing that we will win more than we will lose.
“We’re still in early August and who knows, we might look back on it in April and say it was a good point as Braintree isn’t going to be an easy place to go especially when you get into November and December.
“It doesn’t feel like a good point but we might look back on it that way.
Everyone to a man were brillinat. The lads were even going in at half-time and arguing as they weren’t happy with a couple of things and that shows how far the group has come.
“Defensively we were great, attacking wise too. We were getting the second balls in midfield – Featherstone was brilliant, Woodsy has come in and been brilliant and these are lads who have been in and out of the side.
“It shows how much they want to play and want to keep the shirt and they’ve gone a long way to doing that.”