Hartlepool United caretaker manager Antony Sweeney on his message regarding tactics, substitutions and formations

For Antony Sweeney, the team that finishes the game is more important than the one that starts it.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 6:00 am
Hartlepool United caretaker manager Tony Sweeney during the FA Cup match between Hartlepool United and Brackley Town at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 19th October 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

It’s a mantra that perhaps explains why the Hartlepool United caretaker manager has made the maximum allotted substitutions in each of his three first team matches in charge as well as last week’s Durham Challenge Cup win at Shildon.

And when you’ve got players such as Gime Toure, Jason Kennedy and Josh Hawkes available on the bench, it’s no surprise that Sweeney is looking to utilise as much of his matchday squad as possible.

“That’s the message moving forward which is difficult for the players to buy into,” he said.

“I’m recently retired from playing myself and I know you want to play every game.

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“But I’m trying to get the mentality across that you’d be better off as a player playing fewer games but contributing to a successful team than you would playing a lot of games and struggling in a non-successful team.

“Everyone has got a part to play, whether it’s a substitute or a starter. We had Gav [Holohan] and Jameo [Luke James] come in and Josh and Gime drop out but I think they’ve all reacted in the right way. You want players to be frustrated when they’re not playing, but not at each other.

“My thought process will be to find the side that fits in best with the gameplan we want to execute and the formation we want to play.

“I felt as though the last half-hour of the game would be key and things would open up.

“Obviously it did anyway with their man being sent off but I’m not Nostradamus, I couldn’t predict that!

“I thought a fresh Gime Toure coming on in the second half would cause problems and it did.

“We’ve changed our shape at the back in the last few games because we were so open and had gifted a fair few chances to teams.

“It would be easy to say this team isn’t suited or this player isn’t suited to this formation but I think the fact that we looked a lot more solid on Saturday and kept another clean sheet has justified the change.”