Craig Harrison sacking can be the catalyst for Hartlepool United survival battle - Liam Donnelly

Liam Donnelly. Picture by Howard Roe/
Liam Donnelly. Picture by Howard Roe/

Craig Harrison’s sacking has united Pools’ squad, according to Liam Donnelly.

But rather than blame his former boss for Hartlepool United’s plight, the Northern Irishman believes the players owe it to Harrison to guide themselves away from National League trouble.

“It is not the old manager’s fault,” said Donnelly when asked about the sudden turnaround in performance under caretaker Matthew Bates.

“But it is fair to day that we have come together after he has left.

“The fact he lost his job is what has brought us together.

“But we know the position we are in is not good enough and we need to get out of it. It was not good enough under him and it is still not good enough now.

“We are not setting ourselves any targets between now and the end of the season, bar to stay up.

“Last Tuesday was a start, Saturday was better and now we must get even better again at Fylde.”

Donnelly’s words go some way to disproving the theory that Harrison had lost the Pools dressing room.

In fact, until the day he departed he was a popular manager.

The problem was that his voice was not quite heard as loudly in his final few days as it was when he walked through the door with new, innovative ideas in a summer that promised so much, but flowed into a season which has so far failed to deliver anything but pain.

Pools’ players been lifted by a new set of voices and ideas in Bates and his assistants Ross Turnbull and Ged McNamee.

And with that in mind, Donnelly is certain his side can avoid the embarrassment of two relegations on the bounce.

“Batesy has been good,” said Donnelly, whose side travel to AFC Fylde on Saturday with a three-point cushion to the bottom four following Solihull Moors’ 2-2 draw at Gateshead last night.

“He had the two games at the end of last season where he had an impact.

“He has freshened things up a bit with the new coaches which has been decent for the squad.

“With the squad that we have we shouldn’t be anywhere near the bottom end of the table.

“The club shouldn’t be in this position either, but we know the only way to get ourselves out of this is by winning games.”

Last time out on home turf Fylde hammered seven past Aldershot.
Donnelly knows it will be some result if Pools manage to net just their second win in 17 games.

“It will be tough,” he said.

“They have banged the goals in but we need to defend the way we did against Boreham Wood. And if we do I think we will be OK.

“It was better on Tuesday, without the result, but we knew the application and work rate we put in on the day had to be improved against Boreham Wood.

“We know we have to be better at getting into teams.

“We had a chat about if before the game and I think we got in their faces, even though they were quite a physical team.

“We set a benchmark and I think we kept that up on Saturday.

“We have to do the same again this time around.”

Reflecting back on the weekend result - a 0-0 with Boreham Wood at the Vic - Donnelly said: “We were happy enough with the point.

“Going down to 10 men we were happy to come out of it with something.

“We knew that we had to stick together and defend for our lives and I think we showed that we can do that.

“Now is the time for us to kick on and start turning this kind of point into three.”

Meanwhile, Donnelly could be joined in the Hartlepool squad by Jack Munns, who has returned to training after an operation to remove a mouth tumour.

Ryan Donaldson is at least a week away from a return to training.