Hartlepool United chief executive Mark Maguire provides in depth insight to the manager recruitment process that led to Dave Challinor being appointed

Hartlepool United’s month long hunt for a next permanent manager has finally came to a close following the appointment of Dave Challinor.

Tuesday, 12th November 2019, 4:45 pm
Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor (photo: Frank Reid)

The 44-year-old former AFC Fylde manager was officially unveiled as Hartlepool manager on Monday afternoon alongside assistant Joe Parkinson with Antony Sweeney resuming his role as first-team coach following an impressive stint as caretaker manager.

After sacking former manager Craig Hignett last month, Chairman Raj Singh and chief executive Mark Maguire had conducted an exhaustive process in order to make what they felt was the best possible appointment for the club.

On paper at least, they seem to have done that as Challinor was arguably the best realistic and available manager with experience of success in non-league football.

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Hartlepool United owner Raj Singh and chief executive Mark Maguire during the Vanarama National League match between Notts County and Hartlepool United at Meadow Lane, Nottingham on Saturday 2nd November 2019. (Credit: Jon Hobley | MI News)

Following the decision to appoint Challinor was officially confirmed, Maguire explained the process that led to the decision.

“Since I’ve been at the club, [coming to terms with being a non-league side] has been an ongoing concern and it’s something that has been discussed a lot,” Maguire said.

“We looked at 13 managers who’d got teams promoted from this league over the last 10 years and 12 of the 13, there was a very similar profile to them.

Hartlepool United caretaker manager Tony Sweeney during the Vanarama National League match between Notts County and Hartlepool United at Meadow Lane, Nottingham on Saturday 2nd November 2019. (Credit: Jon Hobley | MI News)

“They’d had over 100 games as a manager prior to their appointment with the team they got promoted with, they all had previous experience of non-league as manager and all had previous promotions somewhere in non-league as a manager and they had all had over 300 games as a player.

“That was 12 of the 13 so in many ways, that dictated our thinking.”

Following Hignett’s dismissal, Sweeney took temporary charge as caretaker. The United legend led the side to three consecutive victories and clean sheets before overseeing one of the most impressive first half away displays in recent memory at Notts County before eventually succumbing to a 2-2 draw.

The 36-year-old ended his interim spell with a 1-0 defeat at home to Solihull Moors once it had been announced that Challinor would be the club’s next manager.

The former Fylde boss was always believed to be Hartlepool’s first choice though Sweeney’s performance over the four games leading to the next managerial appointment had thrust into serious consideration to be handed the job permanently.

And Maguire confirmed that the club then had to make a decision to choose between Sweeney or Challinor.

“We had a fantastic young candidate on our doorstep so we decided to narrow it down to the right hand and left hand side of the page really,” he added.

“The right side being the experienced people with the profile I’ve suggested and there were plenty of names on that list.

“At the time, some were in jobs and Dave Challinor was at the top of our list but we thought it would be tough to get him out of Fylde so for some time, he’s been somebody who we’ve been aware of.

“Then we sat down with Tony and he didn’t know if it was the right time for him. He’s someone I identified eight months ago to the chairman as a potential future manager of the club.

“The first time he came to my attention was when he shouted at me when Richard Money left.

“He told me what a disgrace it was and how stupid the club looked but he did it in a way that demonstrated his passion for the club and his commitment for wanting it to do well.

“He was spot on as well so I told the chairman we’ve got someone here and I’ve kept an eye on him and spoken a lot to him since and been nothing but impressed with him.

“I think everyone would agree that the job he’s done in caretaker charge has been exceptional along with Ian McGuckin.

“It was just a question of timing and asking ourselves if it was too early. He’s the John Askey route, he’s the thirteenth of the thirteen, the alternative where John Askey had played 500 odd times for Macc but hadn’t had experience as a manager so it’s the question of do you take that risk?

“Ultimately it boils down to this being a crucial appointment for the club and for the chairman.

“The chairman doesn’t want to be a sacking chairman despite evidence to the contrary and it’s crucial that he doesn’t feel like we’re not making the progress on the field that he would like after putting in huge amounts of money.

“We weren’t far off but we were still sat in the bottom half and lamenting teams who have to walk from the station with part-time players as they were out competing and beating us at times.

“From his point of view, he wants to be comfortable we’ve got the leadership on the football side so we have a clear idea of where we’re going.

“You want confidence from the person in charge to go this is the direction we’re going and this is what is needed.

“Dave was an outstanding candidate from the first moment we met him and we’re delighted to have him here.”