SIX things on the agenda for new Hartlepool United boss
The wait goes on for the announcement of Matthew Bates as the new manager of Hartlepool United.
While there has been no hitch in appointing the former Middlesbrough defender to the top job at Victoria Park, confirmation is still awaited.
It is expected to come this week.
While Pools interviewed a number of candidates for the job, Bates was the man who shone brightest, especially armed with the fact he turned around a sinking ship with a threadbare squad.
But what next for Bates and Pools?
Here we take a look at SIX issues on the agenda for Bates in his first full-time gig in the dugout.
First thing is first, who stays and who goes?
A number of Pools players are out contract this summer and Bates must decide which ones he gives new deals to and who is allowed to depart the club.
While Craig Harrison’s signings last summer have two-year deals, meaning they have one left, much of the rest of the squad have one-year options.
Bates must work out whether to stick or to twist.
Most managers, who have been in the season previous, have plans set in stone for the summer ahead.
That is not so with Pools. The uncertainty has meant plans must be mapped out fresh under Bates.
It will be interesting to see where the new boss takes his players this summer.
Central defensive issues
Pools lacked any kind of cohesion in their backline last season. All too often, from week-to-week the back four was switching, particularly in the heart of it.
If Carl Magnay is to be Pools leader in the centre he needs a partner. This is a priority of Bates’ between now and the start of the fifth tier campaign.
Pools were much of a muchness in their midfield last season.
Too many players all wanting to play the same roll. There needs to be definition here moving forward.
A proper holding midfield enforcer would not go amiss. It’s something they’ve been crying out for in recent years.
Pools lost one of their most productive players in Jonathan Franks in January, as well as another occasional bright spark in Nicky Deverdics.
Due to financial restrictions, neither were replaced.
This is an area where Pools must add, especially with Devante Rodney almost certain to be heading for pastures new this summer.
Up top Jake Cassidy showed just how good he can be last season, but only for brief flashes.
Bates must decide whether to stick with the old fashioned No 9 and provide him with more support, or whether to bring in direct competition in hope of driving the frontman on.
I suspect it will be the latter. Numbers have just been far too light on the ground for Bates, and under Craig Harrison the options were simply poor.
A striker this summer is another absolute must for Pools.