Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh and caretaker manager Antony Sweeney discuss manager situation following perfect start

With the search for Hartlepool United’s next permanent manager expected to take up to ‘two weeks’, caretaker team Antony Sweeney and Ian McGuckin continue to impress.

Monday, 28th October 2019, 6:00 pm
Raj Singh.

The pair have a perfect record since taking temporary charge which includes securing places in the next round of the Durham Challenge Cup and FA Youth Cup while balancing their new first team duties.

Chairman Raj Singh and chief executive Mark Maguire met with several potential candidates through the week with one believed to be former AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor.

The job wasn’t initially thought to be on Challinor’s radar so soon after his sacking from last season’s play-off finalists though he could be tempted following conversations with Pools.

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Antony Sweeney during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Barnet at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 26th October 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )

Regardless of who the next permanent manager is, what is clear is that the club are in very good hands at the moment with meetings set to continue over the next week.

“We continue to work behind the scenes to get the right man in place,” said Singh.

“I don’t want to put too strict a time schedule on the appointment really but we will be looking to try and get someone in place in the next two weeks.

“Mark Maguire and I have met quite a few people now but there is no rush from our point of view because we believe that we’re in safe hands with Tony and Ian McGuckin at the helm.

“I have to say that I have been hugely impressed with their application with regards to the work rate they have shown and I have had some hugely encouraging reports from certain people about their approach.

“Their determination, hard work, commitment and attention to detail have all been extremely impressive and I think that has shown in the results we’ve achieved.

“One thing I know about Tony and Ian is that they are two guys who have this football club at heart.

“I keep harping on about wanting to get more and more people involved with the club who genuinely want us to do well and have that passion opposed to those with hidden agendas or are more focused on working for their own benefit.

“Tony and Ian certainly fit into that category and have a real love for the club.”

Sweeney’s conduct and results since taking temporary charge alongside McGuckin have seen him emerge as the front runner to succeed Craig Hignett on a permanent basis.

But any decision is still some way from being finalised.

“We spoke to Tony two weeks ago about taking temporary charge and how we planned to move things forward,” Singh added in his programme column.

“One of the first things he said to us was that he wanted us to make the decision which is best for the club and not just for his own progression.

“I have to say that it really meant a lot to me to hear him say those words because it tells me that he is thinking about the bigger picture and not just himself.

“The excellent work he and Ian are doing now will allow us the time we need to make that right decision and we’ll continue to be open and honest with them as we move through the process.

“Hopefully we can reach the decision that can help take the club forward and deliver the success we’re all desperate for.

“We won’t rush this decision because it’s an important one so we will take the time we need to get it right.”

Following Saturday’s impressive 2-0 win over Barnet, Sweeney caught-up with Singh for a standard post-match chat as Pools moved to within two points of the play-off places.

And it quickly became clear for the United caretaker where the chairman’s ambitions lie.

“I’ve had a look at the league table and we’re not far off the play-offs,” Sweeney said.

“But I had a chat with the chairman and he said we’re only nine points off top so he’s looking beyond that as well!

“It’s just a case of getting a little bit of momentum and that’s the hard bit which we’ve done in the three games so far.

“Once you’ve got that momentum, it’s all about really turning the screw and starting to push the ball forward more.

“Hopefully we all believe that and we’ll have a good week training and build to next week.

“The chairman was happy as he should be. He’s ploughed a lot of money into the football club and he wants to be entertained and hopefully he was.

“It was a brief chat which was just to congratulate me, it shows he’s appreciative of the efforts and that’s what we want to do as a football club.

“We want to be successful but there’s no one department that is going to be the key to that, whether it be the staff, the players, the board or the office staff – everyone has a part to play and once we can develop that winning mentality and that success.

“Hopefully that will breed the confidence that helps us all move forward together.

“We’ve got to believe we’re capable of doing something and we should do now. It’s three wins, three clean sheets, the players should believe that they’re more than capable of going on a run but we can’t settle for three, you need it to be four, five and six to really see where it takes you.”