Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor reflects on what he's learned about the side and what he wants to see following first few days in charge
New manager Dave Challinor will be continuing to tweak things at Hartlepool United as he looks to bring out the best in his side.
The former Fylde boss got his tenure at Pools off to a perfect start at Yeovil Town on Tuesday night in the FA Cup.
The convincing 4-1 victory equalled Pools’ biggest winning margin of the campaign so far.
It’s now four wins and a draw in the last six matches since Craig Hignett’s departure as manager. It’s an encouraging run of form that Challinor will be hoping to continue back in the National League at Ebbsfleet United on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
“It’s about keeping those things going, regardless of what competition you’re playing in, you have to build momentum,” said the United manager.
“We’ve got to, as much as possible, keep that going and keep that ball rolling and Saturday’s our next opportunity to do that.
“We’re not going to make massive changes but the players need to have it reinforced what their strengths are and what we want them to do.
“I don’t mind and I won’t mind players taking responsibility, so if Feaths [Nicky Featherstone] or someone loses the ball in the middle of the pitch, I’m not bothered about that because I want him to get on the ball for us so you go around and remind them just what you want.
“It was never going to be wholesale changes for us but with someone like Kitch [Mark Kitching], I want him to be high up the pitch, he’s a runner, I want him to run, I want Peter [Kioso] bombing up the sides because that’s what their strengths are and sometimes you can get away from that too quickly.
“I’m just reinforcing what we want from them which is to go out and play with a freedom to express themselves and do what they can do best based on what I’ve seen from them during my time here and previously watching the players over the last couple of seasons.
“The players deserve all credit for that because they were brilliant at Yeovil, the pleasing thing is I think there is loads more to come.
“That’s what I’ve learned so far and I’ve got no doubt we’ll get better.
“I have a different way of playing and a different style of managing than other managers and there’s always going to be some changes.
“The big positive for me is that I’ve seen loads of positives but also plenty to work on which is really encouraging when you pick up as good a result as we have.
“When we come to Yeovil and win 4-1 and still have plenty to work on, that’s obviously really exciting.”
The four weeks Challinor spent away from management prior to his appointment at Hartlepool was the first time he’s had to experience being out of work during his 10-year career in management.
But the 44-year-old has used his time wisely to study Pools as a club as he strives to learn more about his surroundings and the players he’s working with.
“It’s been great and I’ve been involved in managing for the last 10-years and I’ve had the last four weeks out if you like but it hasn’t felt like four weeks out if I’m being honest,” he added.
“It’s been a quick turnaround because things have been in the planning for an awful long time but I’m back to where I want to be because I enjoy trying to improve as a coach and as a manager with the players and we’ll do that over the coming weeks, months and hopefully years.
“It will be slow progress and there will be bumps along the way where we’ll lose games but as long as we keep improving as a whole and moving forward that will be ample for me.
“It’s been great to get the team together over the last few days with all the travelling and getting to know them.
“I mean, most of them just sit at the back and say nothing anyway!
“Obviously Friday, travelling down and spending time with them on the bus and in restaurants talking to each other which from my perspective, sitting in the background a little bit and watching who hangs around with who and who clicks with who, it gives you an understanding of the group and what makes them tick, but it’s early days.
“We’ll attempt to push different buttons and challenge them.”
Challinor’s early message to his players has all been about self-belief and freedom of expression on and off the pitch.
He also pointed to goalkeeper Ben Killip’s altercation with a section of Yeovil fans on Tuesday night as something the player can take the positives from.
“I’ve told the players they just need to recognise what they can achieve,” Challinor continued.
“That little bit at the end there with Ben taking a bit of stick from their fans. If he’s taking stick from 600 fans, he wants to be taking stick from 60,000 fans if you like.
“I think you take something like that as a compliment because it shows that we’ve gone there and done a job and we went away leaving the natives here restless.
“That’s a sign that if you’re successful and hopefully we will be, then people will ultimately want you to fail and give you stick.
“Ben has got to take as a positive because if he wasn’t any good they wouldn’t be getting as riled up as they were.”