No talk of beach breaks at Hartlepool United just yet as Matthew Bates challenges his side to secure victories in final two matches
There will be no talk of beach breaks at Victoria Park just yet, with Matthew Bates challenging his side to secure victories in the final two games.
While Pools secured National League survival on Tuesday evening, Bates is keen to ensure his players don’t take their foot off the gas just yet as Torquay United travel to the North East tomorrow.
And while the caretaker manager hopes that lifting the burden of a relegation fight will free up his men to relax, it promises to be an anxious few weeks for some with their contracts at Victoria Park set to expire.
But the Pools chief has told his players to embrace this, and to go out and impress new owner Raj Singh and Director of Football Craig Hignett in their final two outings.
Bates’ own future still hangs in the balance, but, with a meeting with Singh and Hignett scheduled, he is keen to focus on the positives on finally securing survival.
“There’s been a bit of relief as it’s been a long time coming,” he said.
“We went on a great run in March and then had a bit of a stutter at the start of April.
“The pressure built up and the hardest thing to do in a relegation battle is to get over that line.
“But we managed to do it and credit to the boys. I’ve said it before, but I can’t thank them and praise them enough. They’ve been magnificent since I’ve taken charge.”
It’s often the case that, with safety assured, teams can ease off and just see out the rest of the season.
But the Pools boss is hoping for the opposite reaction from his players, and is hoping that with the pressure lifted his players can go out and express themselves.
“It’s a hard one,” Bates admitted.
“If you look at the history of clubs it can be difficult, but it can also mean that the lads go into games a little bit more relaxed and maybe that can help them.
“The massive pressure of keeping the club in the league has now been sorted and I’m hoping that it’s a weight off their shoulders and they can go and play with a bit of freedom.
“Hopefully, that can start on Saturday and we can give the home fans a good final home performance of the season.
“I think it’s just a case of carrying on with what we’ve been doing.
“I’ve said to them that I want two more wins – for me personally, for the club, for the fans and for everyone involved.
“They want to end on a high going into next season, for the lads who will be here.
“They’re now trying to play for their futures. There’s new owners on board who will be at the games and watching and making judgements on each individual player.
“They’re still fighting for their futures and so am I.”
And that issue of players’ contracts is certainly a big one – the vast majority of Pools’ squad are out of contract this summer and are essentially playing for their futures.
For Bates, that needs to act as motivation to impress in their final two outings.
“There’s no talk of being on the beach, as the saying goes.
“There’s a few players out of contract in the summer and they’ll be champing at the bit to put in some good performances between now and the end of the season,” added Bates.
“They’ll be looking to impress the new owners and gain new contracts and that’s the message I’ll be giving to them.”
The caretaker manager himself is still unsure of whether he will remain at The Vic next season.
But, with a meeting scheduled this week with Singh and Hignett, a resolution could be near.
Bates said: “There’ll be a conversation had this week, and then we’ll see what happens with that, moving forward.”