What next for Hartlepool United? Possible transfer moves for Matthew Bates
Things are starting to heat up for Hartlepool United and new boss Matthew Bates in the summer transfer stakes.
So far Bates, in his first transfer window as a manager, has definite National League street smarts in his business so far.
Adding tried and tested Paddy McLaughlin to his ranks from Gateshead shows he values the need to get some fifth tier experience in.
Goals were an issue last season and he, and director of football Craig Hignett, hope to have unearthed a gem in 40-goal Isthmian League striker Niko Muir, while Andrew Davies is a coup by anyone’s standards and Myles Anderson is a player who adds versatility and a bit of culture to the Pools ranks.
Four down, many more to go, though, is the message from the top as Bates and Hignett look to build a squad capable of improving on Pools’ 15th-placed finish in the division last season.
But where next for Bates this summer?
Here we take a look at the areas the manager is almost certain to consider strengthening between now and the big kick-off on August 4.
Since Blair Adams left this has become a priority position for Bates.
Some rumours have been circling regarding the signing of McLaughlin and whether he may slot in to the left of a five-man defensive unit, but all the noises from Bates and those above suggest, at this stage, he has been signed as a midfield player first and foremost.
Gateshead’s Scott Barrow is on Pools’ radar. This would be another very shrewd addition to the Pools ranks, although as the days go on, hopes appear to be fading on this front.
Defender Anderson could play left back in a four, but the preference this campaign seems to be to go for 3-5-2.
Wide player/attacking midfielder
Creating chances. An attacking midfielder’s job, whether wide or central, is to help create and score goals.
Pools did not create or score enough goals from this area last season.
The club looks stacked in the central area further back, although some bodies may be moved on, but some kind of creative spark is needed, either wide or centrally.
A lot may depend on whether Ryan Donaldson or Jack Munns are moved on. Both had little impact last season, Munns the lesser of the two.
As mentioned, goals were an issue for Pools last season.
Far too many games were thrown away by the odd goal, and all too often striker Jake Cassidy was isolated, alone or 25 yards further away from the box, with his back to goal, than anyone would have liked.
The key this year has to be in making sure there is a supply line to the forwards, as well as ensuring there are players on the end of it capable of taking their chances.
Pools ran with Rhys Oates, Cassidy and Devante Rodney for the campaign as their three frontmen - in the end they converted two to wide players and it did little to aid the goals for column.
Muir has come in, which is a bonus, but another player is a must in this area in a long, unforgiving fifth tier campaign. Another two will be needed if someone puts some cash down for Cassidy.
If Pools do go with three at the back, Carl Magnay looks likely to be used in the centre by Bates, who last season admitted that’s where he sees his skipper’s future.
That leaves just youngster Kenton Richardson as an option in the position, as well as potentially Lewis Hawkins.
Will Pools strengthen in this slot? Unlikely given the tight nature of the ranks, but it might be considered, if others can be moved on.