Hartlepool United assistant manager Michael Nelson has reiterated his stance on Pools' end of season form ahead of Swindon Town clash

Michael Nelson has once again stated he does not think Hartlepool United players are ‘on the beach’ despite a recent slump in form.

By Joe Ramage
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 7:00 am

Pools host Swindon Town this afternoon looking to end a run of just one win in nine games following their EFL Trophy semi-final defeat to Rotherham United in March.

Nelson, who is once again on standby to replace Graeme Lee in the dugout this afternoon should Lee not be able to produce a negative COVID-19 test result, suggested after Monday’s defeat at Rochdale that Pools are still working hard but perhaps not smartly enough having fallen to a stoppage time defeat.

It was a result which once again brought into question from some an ‘end of season syndrome’ with Pools having long-since been sure of their League Two status.

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Michael Nelson has reiterated his stance on Hartlepool United's end of season form. (Credit: Mike Morese | MI New)

But Nelson, who was on media duty for Pools on Friday, has again emphasised he does not believe the players are slacking off as we head towards the end of the campaign.

“I said it after the game on Monday, the stats and the figures don’t lie,” said Nelson.

“They’re covering the same distances as they were through the good spell that we were having.

“At the minute we’re suffering with one or two injuries and probably haven’t got the confidence we had during that really good spell.

Hartlepool United have won just one of their last nine games. (Credit: Mike Morese | MI New)

“So we’re going through a bit of a difficult patch at the minute compared to what we were but the lads certainly aren’t on the beach.

“There’s lads who are probably not 100 per cent fit but are still wanting to train and still wanting to play.

“If they were on the beach any little niggle they would just say ‘there’s only three games left I’ll just sit out’ but there’s lads actually strapping themselves up and trying to go through the pain barrier to train and play.”

And some of those players may need to do just that this afternoon as Pools’ injury troubles continue having not been able to name a full quota of substitutes in each of the last two games.

Graeme Lee's side secured their League Two status in the recent draw with Forest Green Rovers. (Credit: John Cripps | MI News)

Nelson could welcome back Jamie Sterry and Timi Odusina this afternoon but looks set to be without Neill Byrne, Nicky Featherstone and Joe Grey as Pools look to wrestle their way out of their end of season slump.

But despite the drop off in results over recent weeks, Nelson has praised the squad for their endeavour this season in achieving the goal of preserving their Football League status after conceding every team goes through dips in form.

“It’s one of them. You’d rather not have a tail off at any point in the season but history leads you to the fact that every team will have a bad spell,” Nelson told The Mail.

“Would we rather have had our bad spell in February and now be playing and having these three games where the lads would have to really play for something to stay up? It’s swings and roundabouts.

“They were fantastic in February, the run we went on in the league and cups was brilliant and that’s not just to hang onto that and sweep the current form under the carpet, but it’s a fact that they were brilliant and they’ve got themselves safe in this division again for next year.

“It just so happens that we are going through an indifferent patch at the minute and once that happens and you come into March, April, May time, you always get that thrown at you.

“I don’t care who you are, what team you are or what league you’re in, you’ll always get that chucked at you because the summer is coming.

“We get the stats off them in training every day and their week is worked around how much distance and how much high speed running they need to cover every week, Monday to Friday, and that’s still going on now as it was in September as it was in February and the GPS results that come back from the games are in line with what they were in February. Results are just different to what they were.

“The lads aren’t on the beach. They’re trying, they’re just not getting the rub of the green and we’re not getting the performances. I don’t think it’s a physical thing, maybe it’s a mental thing.

“But hopefully the game on Monday, and that late goal, will be a little bit of a kick up the backside for them and we’ve really hammered into them this week that these three games are important.

“They’re not just there to see the season out and let it tail off and get ready for the summer and go into next year, these are three big games to finish the season.”

And Nelson has suggested there are a number of reasons as to why it is important for Pools to try and finish the season in form over the final three games, none more so than for the Suit Direct Stadium faithful who are sure to be out in force once again this afternoon.

“We do want to finish the season strong. We don’t want to think we’re safe and results aren’t important because they are,” said Nelson.

“They’re important for the lads who are trying to get contracts and trying to make an impression to maybe get a contract at a different club.

“And they’re also massively important to the fans who pay their hard earned money to come to a home game or get on a bus or in the car to travel hundreds of miles to watch us playing wherever we’re playing.

“They players have done their job, they’ve got themselves safe. Brilliant. Now go and put a show on for the fans and show them that you’ve enjoyed their support to get you where you are and give them something to cheer about at the back end of the season.”