FIVE on-field issues facing Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison

Jake Cassidy in action for Pools on Saturday.
Jake Cassidy in action for Pools on Saturday.

Hartlepool United’s 4-2 loss at Dagenham & Redbridge’s Victoria Road made it one win in 12, and no win in eight for Craig Harrison’s men.

While things are far from rosy off the park, the garden is currently bare on it, too.

But what are the main issues facing Harrison in a footballing sense at Pools?

Here we take a look into FIVE different areas of improvement needed to help the club get their National League season back on track.

* Defensive organisation

Earlier in the season scoring goals was a definite problem for Pools - they were among some of the lowest fifth tier scorers.

Now, though, that’s no issue, having scored six in their last three games.

The problem is those three games, two of which Pools were in a winning position, have only returned two points.

And the simple reason for that is the goals against column, which has increased by eight in that time.

Direct balls and width killed them v the Daggers. And when other teams see that they’ll target it, time and time again.

* Full-back problems

Nicky Deverdics and Carl Magnay were Pools’ two full-backs of choice on Saturday.

Neither covered themselves in glory.

In Deverdics’ defence, he’s not a defender. He’s a No 10, who loves to create and score goals. To my knowledge, he is yet to be played in his correct position once this campaign.

On Magnay, it was in fairness his first game back after injury.

What are the alternatives? You’d hardly say Blair Adams is in the form of his life.

* Midfield balance

Harrison signed the likes Luke George and Conor Newton in the summer to beef up his midfield, with Jack Munns to add in a bit of spark.

But as things have panned out, none of those three have been able to get close to nailing down a regular starting spot.

Instead, the tried and tested trio of Nicky Featherstone, Lewis Hawkins and Michael Woods have proved to be the best combo.

With Featherstone out, Pools need a replacement. Liam Donnelly stepped in at the weekend and although he didn’t have a bad game, the balance was not quite right.

Could a Deverdics switch back in there be on the cards? Or will Featherstone be fit enough to slot in. The truth is Pools just don’t lose when the former Hull City man is in the middle.

* Mentality

For more than a year Pools have been stuck in a rut.

There is without doubt a losing mentality about the place.
And it’s clear that changes at the top and on the pitch have done little to change that around.

If Pools are to keep the wolf from the door, and prevent looking over their shoulders for the final four and a half months of the campaign, they need to learn how to get back to winning ways.

They’ve not won a game since November 21 last year.

* Striker support

I’m a fan of Jake Cassidy, but all too often in this team he is isolated.

He’s a player who thrives on balls into the box. They rarely come.

He can hold it up and bring others into play. Others are rarely close enough to do that.
At the moment, things aren’t quite working up there.

Could a genuine two up top be the solution?

I’d be tempted to throw Devante Rodney in from the off against Wrexham at the Vic in 12 days to help Cassidy out.