SIX Hartlepool United players transformed under caretaker Matthew Bates
Hartlepool United have been transformed under Matthew Bates.
Their performances of late, backed up by a three-game unbeaten run, have been chalk and cheese compared to those just a few weeks back.
But which players have stood out from the rest under caretaker Bates?
Here Liam Kennedy takes a look at those in the Pools squad whose upturn in fortunes has coincided with a change at the top...
Improvement has started from the back.
Loach is by far the most experienced and seasoned professional in Pools ranks but they say you are never too old to learn.
The arrival of not just Bates, but his goalkeeping deputy Ross Turnbull has seen stark improvements in former Watford keeper Loach.
His stop-stopping ability we know about - the quality of that is in absolutely no doubt. But what has been questioned from some quarters was his reluctance to come off his line.
Lately, he’s been doing a lot more of it. And it’s been down to some clever analysis from Turnbull, who has been showing the keeper videos of his former teammate Petr Cech. Tweaks in his technique have been made and the results evident.
Ged McNamee could well take a fair chunk of the credit for this one. Laing worked under McNamee for years while a kid at Sunderland. And that trust seems to be working wonders for a player written off by many after some horrendous shows for Pools.
The last two games he has been a colossus. Long may it continue.
The South Shields-born defender has been absolutely unrecognisable since Bates took over.
Another one of McNamee’s Black Cats academy products, he too might have just received the confidence boost he needed after a torrid start to life at Victoria Park. All of a sudden he looks a lot more disciplined defensively.
Newton never was and never will be a defensively minded midfielder.
He’s been cut loose from his chains by Bates and his goal on Wednesday will become a whole lot more frequent if he continues to be given the licence to roam.
Consistently makes runs beyond the strikers, which is freeing up space for others in the Pools midfield at will.
A leader in the camp the midfielder seemed to get a bit lost towards the end of the Harrison era.
Seems to have found his influence again.
Always involved, and at crucial times. You can again see why manager’s value him so highly.
The player himself will be frustrated that he is not in the team.
But it seems to be bringing out just the right reaction.
Played a massive part in the win at Barrow, adding a fresh threat late on with his pace.
He’s a real asset in this form.