Former Hartlepool United manager Kevin Phillips claims contract offer was rescinded following "one minute phone call" with chairman Raj Singh

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Former Hartlepool United manager Kevin Phillips has alleged that an offer of a new contract was withdrawn following a "one minute phone call" with chairman Raj Singh.

The legendary Sunderland striker's departure last month came as a surprise to most after Phillips impressed during his short stint in the dugout, winning four of his first five games while accruing the second highest win rate of any of the last 10 permanent managers, just behind promotion-winner Dave Challinor.

He was replaced by former Stevenage, Yeovil and Woking boss Darren Sarll, who was announced just 15 minutes after Phillips' exit was confirmed and who made the decisions regarding the club's retained list three days later.

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Phillips, who was in his second managerial role after winning promotion with South Shields, made a generally favourable impression at the Suit Direct Stadium, transforming a side low on confidence and lacking form into one that played with intent and on the front foot.

Kevin Phillips has had his say following his controversial exit last month.Kevin Phillips has had his say following his controversial exit last month.
Kevin Phillips has had his say following his controversial exit last month.

Pools did endure a wobble towards the middle of Phillips' tenure as a run of five games without a win culminated in a miserable 7-1 mauling at the hands of local rivals Gateshead, their heaviest defeat in 28 years.

However, Phillips managed to galvanise his threadbare squad as Mani Dieseruvwe's 20th league goal of the season helped sink the talismanic striker's former side Halifax, who arrived in the North East on a run of seven wins in their last eight, on Good Friday and all but secured Pools' National League status for another season.

As the campaign drew to a close, a number of players suggested that Phillips had set his side a target of 60 points which, against the odds, they reached following an entertaining 4-3 win over Dorking Wanderers on the final day.

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The former England international seemed confident that he would be the man to lead Pools against next season, often discussing his plans for the summer and telling the Hartlepool Mail he was "very close" to signing a new deal.

However, he uncharacteristically snubbed press duties after the win over Dorking and just a week later his departure was confirmed, with the club suggesting that he had not been offered a new contract following a decision by the board.

Through his representatives, Phillips offered a slightly different version of events, arguing that he had been offered a two-year deal only to have it rescinded unexpectedly.

And the 50-year-old doubled down on his version of events while appearing as a guest on the popular football podcast Undr The Cosh, which features former Pools and York frontman Jon Parkin.

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He told the trio of hosts that he had "met the criteria" for a new contract but that "for whatever reason, they decided to let me go".

He added that the decision was "strange" and that it left him feeling "surprised, very surprised" but he refused to be too critical of chairman Raj Singh and said he had an "excellent" relationship with the owner until "that one minute phone call when he told me I was not going to be kept on".

Even so, he admitted he felt like he'd always had the support and financial backing of Singh and said that Hartlepool was a "proper football club".

Phillips, who scored 130 goals for Sunderland, had been linked to the vacant managerial job at the Stadium of Light and regularly appeared on radio and television prior to his coaching career.

While the Sunderland job will surely come too soon, Phillips is unlikely to be short of options and it would be a surprise not to see him back in management before too long.

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