Hartlepool United caretaker boss Antony Sweeney opens up on the 'sad' exit of Dave Challinor following decision to join National League side Stockport County

Antony Sweeney admits it has been an emotional number of days at Victoria Park after Dave Challinor called time on his Hartlepool United tenure.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 4:45 pm

Challinor was just days shy of completing his second year in charge of Pools before informing the club of his desire to leave to join National League club Stockport County.

Challinor, an ex-captain of County, was confirmed as the new Hatters boss during half time of Pools’ Papa John’s Trophy tie with Everton U21’s in which Sweeney was left to take charge of in the wake of Challinor’s exit.

Challinor’s decision has left Pools rocked both in the stands and behind the scenes as Sweeney confessed to being upset by the 46-year-old’s departure.

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Antony Sweeney admits to being sad at Dave Challinor's decision to leave Hartlepool United Picture by FRANK REID

“I'm shocked and surprised, a little bit of both,” explained Sweeney.

“I'm sad I've lost someone who I was close to, someone I respected and someone who I was learning from and obviously someone who was successful at the football club that we wanted to remain.”

Sweeney continued to BBC Radio Tees: “It's not for me or any of the players to decide what the reasons were for that, it's his decision, we all walk in different shoes.

“I'll just say that I'm disappointed that he isn't here for my own benefit and the football club's benefit.”

Antony Sweeney was speaking after guiding Hartlepool United to the knockout stage of the ELF Trophy with a win over Everton U21's (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Sweeney is no stranger to the situation he finds himself in having had to take temporary charge of the club prior to Challinor’s arrival in 2019 but the former Pools midfielder explained how it was difficult to prepare the side for their EFL trophy clash amid the speculation surrounding Challinor’s future.

“The training session on Monday was difficult because the rumours were flying about but the players trained really well to be fair and we had a game to prepare for that they did so well.

“I stressed to the players before the game that these things happen in football, you've just got to move on very quickly because nobody is bigger than the football club.

“Times will change, players will change, managers will change but the football club will hopefully always be here so that's the stage we're at.”

Quite where Pools go from here is up for debate with Sweeney set to remain in charge for the foreseeable future.

But while there are a range of differing emotions circling the club at the moment, Sweeney believes Challinor’s exit could be seen as an opportunity by some members of the Pools squad who may now have the chance to claim a spot in the starting XI.

“There will be people who are really sad [to see the manager leave], there are people who may only be slightly sad and there will be people not in the team who will think they have an opportunity,” explained Sweeney.

“The gaffer had the respect of the full dressing room hence why the results were as they were over the last 18-months, so there won't be anyone in that dressing room that isn't disappointed that he's gone but the levels of disappointment will obviously be different for every player.”

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