Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor criticises character and determination of players following Maidenhead United defeat
Hartlepool United aren’t used to losing, now they’ve lost twice in less than a week.
Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at home to Maidenhead United was Pools’ first home defeat of 2021 and one that took manager Dave Challinor by surprise.
After losing just two out of 24 National League matches between December 22 and May 1, Pools have now lost two in a row as their hopes of a first ever league title faded.
While Challinor could take nothing away from what his side have achieved so far this season, he was quick to highlight some of the shortcomings he’s noticed in his squad when things don’t go their way.
For the most part, things have gone Pools’ way this season but against Maidenhead that was far from the case as they found themselves 4-1 down after 55-minutes.
The goal led to an expletive laden outburst from Challinor on the sidelines that could be heard throughout Victoria Park.
To put it mildly, he was questioning the desire of his players, something he would elaborate on following the full-time whistle.
“That’s something we need to show more of,” he said. “We don’t have verbal leaders out on the pitch if you like.
"It’s easy to talk and lead in good situations. Your real character comes out in adversity.
"We can’t flick a switch and someone is the leader so everyone has got to take some responsibility and really encourage each other.
"Every one of them will have had bad games and made mistakes so what you’ve got to do is pull people out of the bag.
"Rather than go, ‘he’s made two mistakes, I’ll be okay,’ go and get that player out of it and show what you’re about."
He added: They need to show more than that. It’s easy for people who aren’t in the team to go, I should be in that team.
"Well go and show us. It’s easy to do that and the flip side of that is maybe players are playing at this level because of ability but some will do the bare minimum, some will do enough to keep themselves comfortable and not put their head above the parapet and go ‘I want the ball, give it to me, I’m going to go and win us this game’.
"It’s easy to do that when things are going well, not so easy when things aren’t. That will determine where people play and whether they achieve anything come the end of their careers.”
As disappointing as Saturday’s result was, Pools will move on quickly when they return to training in preparation for the weekend trip to Aldershot Town.
“It’s all about moving on,” Challinor continued. “I’ve spoken about character in adversity and when under pressure.
"Games at this stage of the season are different and I know that through experience because they test you in different ways.
"When you’re playing one off games where you’ve got to win, it’s different.
"What you’ve got to do is look at what’s happened [on Saturday] and the players who have made mistakes hold their hands up and go ‘that’s on me’ and make sure it doesn’t happen next weekend.
"I’m sure it won’t because it hasn’t in the past 25 games.”