Could the dream team return to Hartlepool United?

Sam Collins
Sam Collins

Hartlepool United could have the dream team back in charge in the National League.

SportMail understands former defender, captain and assistant boss, Sam Collins, has applied for the vacant Pools job.

And should Collins be successful it would almost certainly signal a return for Ronnie Moore, who masterminded the Great Escape two years ago, when he kept Pools in the Football League, against the odds.

Figures close to the club pinpoint the removal of Collins by former boss Dave Jones in early March as one of the principal sources of the fall towards the drop zone.

The 39-year-old had led Pools to a 2-0 victory over Stevenage following the sacking of Craig Hignett in January.

New boss Jones initially retained the long-serving player and coach on his staff, only to ditch him just before the March 11 trip to Notts County.

Pools won just two of their last 11 games with some observers noting the departure of Collins increased the decline of the relationship between Jones and the players.

Collins has impressed many with his rapport with the players and coaching skills.

He knows the club inside out, having spent almost a decade at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium, including just shy of 250 appearances, a sizable number as captain.

Collins has operated three times as caretaker and was assistant to Moore when Pools, incredibly, fought a successful battle for Football League survival two years ago.

The former centre-half has worked closely with players such as Scott Harrison, Brad Walker, Kenton Richardson, plus a number of the club’s young prospects.

A Collins appointment would prove seamless for the club with Moore an ideal figure to deal with player contracts and recruitment.

As he proved during the Great Escape, Moore was adept at wheeling and dealing and identifying the right talent and, more importantly, the right characters the side needed.

With the retained list a priority, Collins has in-depth knowledge of the players which could prove vital.

Given the disastrous appointment of Jones there is absolute no question that Collins and Moore have their hearts in the club. Both are rated at 16-1 shots for the position.

The Pools hierarchy are facing a critical time at the Vic.

They need to make a fairly rapid appointment but, and it’s a big but, they need to get the correct one.

Chairwoman Pam Duxbury, head of recruitment Paul Watson and leading shareholder Gary Coxall are likely to be the people sifting through the applicants.

Craig Harrison, manager of TNS, Welsh Premier League champions for the last six years is currently the favourite on the bookmakers’ list at 15-8.

The 39-year-old, from Gateshead, is a former Middlesbrough defender so is familiar with this area and familiar with putting squads together at non-league level.

Marcus Bignot, sacked by Grimsby after less than six months on charge, is second favourite at 2-1.

Interim boss Matthew Bates is 3-1 with a number of out-of-work figures quoted at 16-1 including Martin Allen and Graham Westley while former Championship managers, Kenny Jackett, Dougie Freedman, Paul Ince and Owen Coyle are locked on 25-1.