Craig Hignett on why the pressure is always on him as Hartlepool United manager

The pressure is always on, insists Craig Hignett.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 11:45 am
Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett during the Vanarama National League match between FC Halifax Town and Hartlepool United at The Shay, Halifax on Tuesday 6th August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

The Pools manager has been backed over the summer and has expanded his squad to a plentiful 23 senior players with eight new additions.

Pre-season talk was about Hartlepool challenging for the play-off places and putting the mediocrity of the previous two National League seasons behind them.

While it’s only two games into the new campaign, Hignett’s side are yet to get off the mark with a vocal section of travelling fans keen to make their feelings known following the 2-0 defeat at Halifax Town on Tuesday night.

Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett during the Vanarama National League match between FC Halifax Town and Hartlepool United at The Shay, Halifax on Tuesday 6th August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

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The United manager understood the frustrations and insisted he’s always feeling the pressure of being in charge at Pools regardless of the results.

“I am under pressure as a manager,” Hignett admitted.

“That’s the job, that’s the nature of the job. It’s the best job in the world when you’re winning games but it’s a horrible lonely job when you’re losing games.

“I’ve been there before but I think I’ll handle it a little bit better this time around, I was a bit confrontational I think last time, wasn’t I?

Hartlepool United players applaud the fans at the end of the Vanarama National League match between FC Halifax Town and Hartlepool United at The Shay, Halifax on Tuesday 6th August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

“It’s part of the job and it’s results driven, everyone knows. If we win everyone’s happy, if we lose it doesn’t matter how you play, it’s the result that’s the be-all and end-all.

“I’ve got to look at things a bit more objectively than that, see how we’ve played and focus on the good bits of our game but see the bits where we’re lacking and try and do something about it.

“The players who are out injured will all make a difference to the side when they come back in so I know I’ve got that to come.

“The other bits, spotting danger and killing games when we have to – all the nasty horrible bits, we have to get a bit better at that.

“We’ve got one or two who’ve done it at clubs they’ve been at previously and I’m sure as we go on, we’ll get better.

“This week we’ve done some work on stopping the flow of the game because all of our problems have come when we’ve been in possession of the ball and attacking.

“At the minute, we’re going through one of those spells where everything is getting punished. Ben Killip’s push-out is getting punished, Fraser Kerr being off the pitch is being punished.

“I’ve been in football long enough to know a week is a long time especially when you play as many games as we do so this time next week things could look completely different.”

Following the defeat Halifax, Hignett confirmed his players had a meeting to clear the air and address their disappointing start as they look to put things right at Maidenhead United on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

“The players have been excellent, after the game the other night we had a meeting and I let the players lead the meeting because they wanted to,” he revealed.

“They were good about it, things weren’t abusive or argumentative, it was really constructive and positive and that’s what you want.

“Last thing you want as a manager at the start of the season is to have everyone at each other’s throats and they weren’t at all. They know what they’ve done well and what they need to get better and they all want to improve as individuals and as a group.”

The frustrations from Poolies are already bubbling away and the way Hignett has set his side up is coming under particular scrutiny just two games into the new campaign.

Everyone, including the players and coaching staff knows the start hasn’t been good enough. But with 44 games left, the Pools boss is hoping to address the ‘knee-jerk’ reaction.

“I think every manager would ask for patience,” he continued.

“It’s knee-jerk, people can turn so quickly these days. But it’s results, get good results and everyone is happy.

“Get bad results and the formation you’re playing suddenly isn’t right and you shouldn’t have done this or should have done that.

“It doesn’t matter what you do as a manager, you’re not going to please everyone because someone will always have a gripe.

“I’m in a fortunate position really because I see them in training everyday and I know what the players can and can’t do.

“I’m paid to make the decisions, to put a team out but you live and die by those decisions and live and die by results.

“We’ve got to get three points on the board but I think once we do, we’re more than capable of going on a decent run.

“Eastleigh last season, they were down near the bottom until around November and Tranmere when they were promoted were the same before going on a real good run.

“I don’t want to be down the bottom in the first half of the season – there’s only two games gone but we need a result.

“It’s a good chance at Maidenhead away, it was a tough place to go but we got a win there last year so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t go down there to get a result.”