Everything Hartlepool United caretaker manager Michael Nelson had to say on Graeme Lee after his sacking ahead of Colchester United defeat

Hartlepool United ended their season with defeat against Colchester United but much of the discussion post-match surrounded former boss Graeme Lee.

By Joe Ramage
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 11:50 am

Pools announced they had parted company with Lee less than 48-hours ahead of their final game of the season at the Suit Direct Stadium after a poor run of form towards the end of the season despite the club retaining its League Two status.

That left Michael Nelson and Antony Sweeney in interim charge for the 2-0 defeat to the U’s thanks to goals from John Akinde and Chay Cooper.

But after the match it was about Lee’s exit in which Nelson was quizzed and here is everything he had to say on the matter:

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Michael Nelson answered questions about Graeme Lee's exit from Hartlepool United. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

What have the last 48 hours been like?

"It’s been hectic and emotional. But you’ve got to try and be as professional as you can.

"I’ve been through it a number of times when I was a player. The chairman spoke to me and Sweens and asked us to take training on Friday and take the game on Saturday and we tried to prepare the lads as well as we could and be as professional as we could and we’re just really disappointed we couldn’t get a result.”

Were you as shocked as everybody else at the decision?

Antony Sweeney and Michael Nelson took charge of first team duties for Hartlepool United's final game of the season. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

“It comes as a surprise but that’s football. You should never be surprised in football. It’s one of them things.

“The main thing was that it was so close to the game on Saturday it was just about getting the lads ready for Saturday and that’s what we tried to do and remain as professional as we could, not just myself and Sweens and the rest of the staff, but the players as well.

“We fell short again today unfortunately with carrying a few injuries, not having a full complement on the bench, and unfortunately we weren’t able to get a result for the fans.

“You always want to try and sign off the end of the season at home with a win and to try and reward the fans for their support throughout the season and that was a real disappointment that we didn’t do that.”

Graeme Lee spent five months at the Suit Direct Stadium and helped guide the club to safety before the club parted ways. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

How did the players react to the news?

“To be fair there wasn’t a lot of individual conversations with individual players. It was more just we addressed the players on Friday morning and spoke to them about what had happened and what we needed to do moving forward in terms of preparing for Colchester.

“But it’s the same when any manager leaves any club. It’s the same with the fans and the players.

“Some people will be happy when a manager goes, some people will be sad, some people are just not bothered and that’s the nature of the game.

“I’m sure social media has been the same. There’ll be some disappointed Graeme has left, there’ll be some who are happy. You can’t please all the people all the time and it’s the same with players.

“Different players react in different ways. Some are more emotional than others, some are pretty down the line.

“Some, like the older lads Lidds and Feaths who’ve been through it many times before - I’m not saying they’ve got a habit of getting managers sacked but when you get to that age and into your 30’s you’ve done well if you haven’t been through a couple of manager’s getting sacked while you’ve been a player.

“So different players respond in different ways. Some don’t want to speak about it. The overriding thing was to try and be professional as a group of staff and players and again I go back to it, we’re disappointed we didn’t win today.”

Does the timing of Graeme Lee’s exit surprise you with just one game to go?

“It’s not my decision or my right to comment on if I’m honest. I think the people who make this decision are paid to make them decisions and me thinking one way or the other will not change their minds or do any good. It is what it is.

“You should never ever be surprised in football. There’s often lots of things come up and everyone asks if you’re surprised but I don’t think I get any benefit from commenting on whether I’m surprised or not.”

How do you assess your five months here with Graeme Lee?

“We were lucky enough when we came in, we’ve got systems and things that measure the metrics in terms of touches in the opposition box, chances created, final third entries and things like that were pretty low when we came in towards the bottom end of the table in those respects.

"I think we had a slight uplift in terms of that during the good patch and then tailed off again towards the end.

“I think the problem when we came in, and before we came in, was scoring goals.

"I don’t think we score enough goals and I don’t think we create enough chances so that’s something we were looking to address in the summer window and I’m sure it’s something that will be continued to be addressed by whoever comes in.

“But on a whole, the club remains an EFL League Two club with several games to spare.

"The away trip to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, a penalty miss from Wembley in the Papa John’s, there was a lot of money raised, I would imagine, through the two cup runs and, yeah, it’s been a disappointing end to the season in terms of the form but on the whole I would say the club has been stabilised.”