WELL, after a lengthy wait that had all Hartlepool United fans on tenterhooks, the retained list has finally been released.
And there weren’t too many surprises as Ronnie Moore begins his major rebuilding job at Victoria Park.
No-nonsense Moore had promised sweeping changes as he looks to avoid a repeat of the 2014-15 campaign, a season of struggle that almost ended in the dreaded drop into non-league.
The club survived with a game to spare in the end but BIG changes were always going to be made this summer, regardless.
And Moore and the club has started by shifting out some high earners in a bid to breathe new life into a squad that has struggled badly for the last three seasons.
Marlon Harewood. Gone. Tommy Miller. Gone. Jack Compton. Gone. Stuart Parnaby. Gone. Darren Holden. Gone. Jonny Maxted. Gone.
No-nonsense Moore had promised sweeping changes as he looks to avoid a repeat of the 2014-15 campaign, a season of struggle that almost ended in the dreaded drop into non-league.Pools writer, Richard Mennear
Six in total, the last two, younger players that will be no great loss. Holden was rated by Colin Cooper but hardly featured this campaign, while goalkeeper Maxted hasn’t played a single minute of first team football.
With the sizeable wages saved on the other four – with Harewood and Parnaby among the club’s top earners – Moore can now look to continue his re-build by bringing the nine players in that he wants to.
Some of those will, of course, be loans, with Moore using the loan market to good affect this season.
All of those players have returned to their parent clubs and Moore will be keen to see one or two of them return – David Mirfin, Aaron Tshibola and Jordan Hugill in particular – however unlikely that scenario maybe.
But for now, Pools supporters will be reflecting on the retained list.
Harewood has been much-maligned in his 18-month stint at the Clarence Road club, managing just six goals in his 55 appearances. Scant return for a player of his ability.
Pools fans, players and managers didn’t see his barnstorming performances enough. He was arguably one of the better players in the final weeks of the campaign producing man-of-the-match performances against Southend United, Accrington Stanley and Carlisle United, helping Pools to achieve the Great Escape.
Sadly, it was too little, too late, for if he had produced more of those performances earlier on, then perhaps Pools wouldn’t have been in so much trouble.
Of course, it is unfair to put the troubles of last season all at one players door with others not performing to their potential on a consistent basis either, Compton being one of them.
His two-year spell at the club has been littered with inconsistent performances, rantings on Twitter and attitude problems.
No question he had “immense ability”, as Moore himself mentioned.
But he didn’t produce that enough and it was time for both parties to go their separate ways.
Miller’s return has been a big source of frustration after a long period out with a calf injury. He returned to training several weeks before the end of the season but was limited to a cameo sub appearance against Exeter City.
Not a bad way to go out though, making your 600th career appearance as Pools pulled off the Great Escape.
He will regret not being given more time to play but it was hard to push his case too much given the form of the first team as they edged their way to safety.
Still, his two spells at the club, will be remembered fondly by supporters and Miller will be remembered as someone who always gave his all.
Stuart Parnaby’s spell at the club was a let down though as he too was struck down with a long-term injury.
Cooper brought him to the club last summer and even trialled him on the right wing at one stage, well, the right-back department was over subscribed.
It was no surprise to see Parnaby’s name included on the released list.
In many ways, the eagerly anticipated list summed up the legacy left behind by former manager Colin Cooper. A legacy that promised much but ultimately failed to deliver.
We will have to wait and see what happens to the likes of Matthew Bates, Scott Flinders, Neil Austin and Jonathan Franks as talks continue over their futures.
But it would be no surprise to see one or two of them released as well, if they cannot agree new contracts, on what is likely to be less money.
Moore’s full focus will now be on who he can bring in to Pools to revamp the side as he looks for a vastly improved 2015-16 campaign.
Pace and endeavour are two of his key factors.
And if his loan signings are anything to go by, then Pools fans have a lot to look forward too.