WITH just five days to go until the start of the new football season Hartlepool United fans have a lot to ponder.
The busy pre-season has seen former manager John Hughes and coach Micky Barron axed along with players Evan Horwood and Ritchie Humphreys and a new regime in the form of Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett brought in.
Summer signings so far include winger Jack Compton and the likely signing of defender Christian Burgess on loan from Middlesbrough, and trialist Nialle Rodney could also be offered a deal - he was in the official team photograph after all.
Not too much for fans to get too excited about so far, but it would appear further summer signings hinge on striker Steve Howard - heavily booed during the Middlesbrough pre-season match after his less than complimentary comments at the end of last season - leaving to free up some much-needed funds to spend on wages.
Pools have been linked with several Middlesbrough players on loan, including Matty Dolan and Curtis Main, but further movement in the transfer market isn’t likely until players leave the club, whether that be Howard or if a late bid comes in for super keeper Scotty Flinders, who has again showed his class in pre-season.
Until there are any incomings through the doors at the Clarence Road club then Cooper has what he has to work with.
Will it be enough for a promotion or play-off push? Unlikely given the lack of goals in the team.
In many fans opinion, Pools are desperate for a 15-20 goal a season striker and a creative midfielder as the goalkeeper and defence are a strong unit at League Two level.
But without that cutting edge in front of goal, Pools fans could be set for another frustrating season at The Vic.
On a more positive note, I’m sure all Pools fans will join me in wishing Cooper and Hignett the very best of luck for the forthcoming season and here’s hoping the Mail is publishing a promotion supplement special come May next year.
One thing that can never be questioned is the commitment of Hartlepool United fans.
Last season was miserable from start to finish and ultimately ended in relegation from League One but that hasn’t appeared to dampen spirits amongst supporters and more than 3,300 fans have taken advantage of the cut-price offer and renewed their season tickets.
An incredible effort and the figure is set to rise further as the deadline has been extended until August 7.
Let’s hope we all have more to cheer than last season, starting with Rochdale away on Saturday.
- By Richard Mennear