Dave Challinor: Hartlepool United not going to change philosophies in League Two

Dave Challinor is hoping to maintain Hartlepool United’s shape and style going into the new League Two season.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 12:30 pm

Pools were promoted following a very strong run of form using a 3-5-2 set-up in the National League last season. The side’s high possession, high intensity play-style garnered plenty of plaudits in the fifth tier.

There are question marks over whether the high-risk, high-reward approach will transfer effectively into the Football League this season.

But with Saturday’s League Two opener against Crawley Town (3pm kick-off) just around the corner, Challinor isn’t planning on changing his style against arguably stronger opposition.

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Gavan Holohan. Action from Blyth Spartans v HUFC pre-season friendly. 27-07-2021. Picture by Bernadette Malcolmson

“We plan to change nothing is the honest answer,” he admitted. “We’ll dip our toe and see what comes about.

"We’ve recruited players over the past couple of years who fit into what we want to do so we’d be stupid to change that and what you don’t do is change your philosophy based around the division you play in.

"We will have to tweak things absolutely but in the main not much will change, we want to be a front foot team and press. We want to play out from the back which we will try and do and if teams press us we will ideally look to play through it but if we can’t do that we’ll look to play over or around.

"We have the ability to do all of those things and hopefully we can ask questions to teams where we come out with the right answers and the players come out of there to pick the approach that is most viable to win that game.

"It’s about winning matches and it doesn’t matter how you do it ultimately but there are certain parameters that we would ideally like to see but we won’t complain if we come away with three points on Saturday.”

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Despite the notable departures of Rhys Oates, Luke Armstrong, Ryan Johnson and Lewis Cass, Pools’ squad has remained fairly consistent in terms of personnel.

Promotion final starters Gary Liddle, Timi Odusina, David Ferguson, Jamie Sterry, Nicky Featherstone, Mark Shelton, Gavan Holohan have all remained at the club. Ben Killip, Luke Molyneux and Zaine Francis-Angol have also committed their future at Victoria Park.

In addition, the club have bolstered the squad with signings of Neill Byrne, Martin Smith, Reagan Ogle, Fela Olomola, Jake Lawlor and Mark Cullen with more set to follow before Saturday.

Pre-season have provided Challinor with plenty of food for thought regarding his opening day line-up and bench, with seven substitutes now allowed to be named.

“I have a good idea of the team we’ll play which will hopefully be blurred by players coming in,” he told The Mail.

"In the main, it won’t be massively different to where we were last season and we’d be daft to go away from that because those players know what we expect of them and know what our main philosophies are.

"We’ll pick a team that we think can beat Crawley first and foremost and then look ahead to Tuesday to try and beat Crewe.”

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