Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh has given new manager Paul Hartley this target ahead of the new League Two season

Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh has laid down the challenge to his new manager Paul Hartley by revealing a play-off push will be the target next season.

By Joe Ramage
Monday, 13th June 2022, 7:17 pm
Updated Monday, 13th June 2022, 7:18 pm

Singh was present at the unveiling of Hartley as the club’s new boss on Monday, which signalled an end to a month-long search for a new manager following the dismissal of Graeme Lee in May.

The Pools chairman has admitted the search for Lee’s replacement went on for longer than he had hoped following an extensive recruitment process but that he is pleased to finally get the appointment over the line.

And Singh has revealed he was impressed by both Hartley’s, and assistant manager Gordon Young’s, desire and hunger for the role during the interview process with Hartley having earned his fifth promotion in Scottish football after the former Alloa Athletic, Dundee and Falkirk boss guided Cove Rangers to the League One title in 2021/22.

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(Left to right) Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh and manager Paul Hartley shake hands at the Suit Direct Stadium. Picture by FRANk REID

And the Pools chairman is hoping for more of the same from his new man in charge next season with a push for the top seven the ambition of the owner with the ultimate goal to see the club back in League One.

Pools secured their League Two status comfortably during the 2021/22 campaign but a sluggish end to the season, which saw just one win in 12 games, led to the sacking of Lee as the club finished 17th in the table.

Singh has insisted there will be a budget available to Hartley this summer for the 45-year-old to shape his squad for a tilt at the promotion race next season but has stressed the importance of spending that budget wisely to the new man in charge.

“I think the plan always was to push for at least the play-offs this year,” said Singh.

(Left to right) Manager Paul Hartley, chairman Raj Singh and assistant manager Gordon Young photographed in the Suit Direct Stadium. Picture by FRANk REID

“I think when Paul and Gordon came on board it was decided to increase [the budget] a little bit further to give us a good chance, but it’s about how you use the budget. That’s so important to me.

“Anybody can have a big budget but it’s how you use that budget and how you use that money to bring that quality player in.

“I'm quietly confident that Paul will use the budget wisely and won’t just squander the money away.”

Singh added on appointing Hartley: “When we first met Paul at the interview it came through loud and clear his desire and his hunger for the game and he made a really good impression on us.

“You always want stability. But results weren't happening at the back end of the season so it was decided that a change was needed and that’s why we’re here now.

“We did well last year and with the cup runs there was additional money that came into the club which makes it easier to move the budget higher up.

“But it’s important that when the new guys come in, what they say and how they’re going to go about it, that it makes you feel like they're the right man for the job.”