Fans will be hoping Hartlepool United are reaching endgame in manager search with Celtic coach now the leading bookies favourite as League two form continues to slip

Pools fans will hope we are now entering the endgame as far as Hartlepool United’s necessity for appointing a new manager goes.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 4:10 pm

Saturday’s 2-0 reverse at Port Vale, a fifth League Two defeat in a row, typified what has become of Pools lately in that when they can’t necessarily be good, they aren’t lucky either.

Although to be fair, that may be slightly over critical of Saturday’s display at Vale Park. Pools were competitive for large spells of the first half in particular before being hit with a sucker punch just after the half hour mark.

There was plenty of possession in good areas of the field without ever really creating anything to really trouble Lucas Covolan in the Port Vale goal. And therein lies Pools’ fundamental issues on the pitch at this moment in time.

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Antony Sweeney has been in caretaker charge for seven games. (Credit: James Holyoak | MI News)

Interim manager Antony Sweeney has highlighted on several occasions how important the first goal is in terms of how a game will pan out for Pools and whether they gain any points or not.

From their 19 League Two games this season Pools have taken 16 points when scoring the opening goal in games. They’ve taken just six when conceding the opening goal - both in come-from-behind victories at the Suit Direct Stadium. When Pools fall behind, they tend to lose. Ten times in fact.

So it’s a clear issue for Pools and yet not an unfamiliar one.

But in order to address that problem, Pools actually need to get their new man in place. Although results may suggest otherwise, Sweeney has performed admirably, if not spectacularly.

Fans hope Hartlepool will soon reach a conclusion to their manager search. Picture by FRANK REID.

Performances haven’t exactly fallen off a cliff quite like results have.

But Sweeney, by his own admission, was never the long-term plan for this particular Pools project. He was, and at this moment in time remains, a stopgap.

Sweeney was tasked with buying the club time so that they can make an informed and astute appointment.

Right now however, Sweeney looks to have given the club just about as much time as he can.

The former Pools midfielder has kept morale as high as it can be, which could have dropped immeasurably given the relationship between the players and former boss Dave Challinor. You only have to walk around the club’s Maiden Castle training base to see evidence of that. There are no bowed heads and no unhappy faces.

But as the interim boss attested to in the wake of defeat at Vale Park, there is only so long that will remain from a players point of view.

When Sweeney was given the role of buying the club time you can imagine he never expected to still be in the role now.

As it stands, current Celtic coach Gavin Strachan is the odds-on favourite to take over but that’s with the bookmakers.

It’s understandable Pools are playing this one close to their chest. It is a big appointment.

But five defeats in a row has seen the club slide to 17th in the League Two table, eight points above the dropzone. That remains an adequate advantage, but it is an advantage which can quickly dissipate over the coming Christmas period.

With no league action for 10 days as Pools contest on two cup fronts this week, now seems like the most opportunistic time to make an appointment.

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