Craig Harrison believes Hartlepool United are just TWO wins behind schedule

Craig Harrison
Craig Harrison

Hartlepool United are two wins away from where they wanted to be at this stage in the season – that’s the view of Craig Harrison.

The situation off the field has overshadowed the preparations for today’s clash with Maidenhead United, but now the focus turns to action on it.

And Harrison’s men are in need of three points, with the club’s hopes of muscling in on the promotion play-off places sliding by the week.

“What I will say is that I think we are six to eight points away from where we wanted to be,” said Harrison, who has previously revealed sets his team monthly targets to hit.

“We need to improve – the players know that and the staff do to.

“All we can control is what goes on in training and on the pitch during the game.

“We need to be better at managing games, reproducing what we have on the training pitch. Maybe we need a bit of luck to go our way, too.”

The perception of many is that the Pools boss has not been in struggles like this in his managerial career.

But despite his unprecedented success in Wales with TNS, he also had difficult times in previous employment at Airbus UK.

And, as well as that, Harrison says his time as a player at Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough taught a lot about how to deal with the pressures of the dugout.

“This kind of struggle is nothing new to me,” said Harrison.

“My first job in management at Airbus was taking a team who were win one week, lose the next.

“I know what life is like at the top, the bottom and mid-table.

“My playing career and as a manager I have experienced everything – promotion with Boro, losing a lot in the top flight with them, struggles in the First Division with Palace, mid-table stuff with Airbus and then success with TNS.

“Nothing comes as a surprise in this game.”

One thing that has been a struggle to transform this season is mentality.

When asked about it Harrison is coy, keen not to cue up the excuses when times get tough.

But the barefaced reality of the whole thing is that he took over a team with turmoil and change off the park, and many players on it who were entrenched in failure, having only just suffered the pain and embarrassment of relegation from League Two.

“In football you can’t turn things on and off,” said Harrison of the attitude of footballers in general.

“I have always said it is a mindset – I thought that as a player and I think that as a manager, too. It is ingrained in people.

“I have never been an excuse man. Whatever is going on you have to look at yourself first and foremost.

“Am I doing the best possible job I can? That’s what I want the players to ask themselves, and the staff also.

“It’s about creating that culture.”

Pools are set to be without a number of players today after a bug swept through the club’s training base.