Former Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison’s signings under the microscope

Former Hartlepool manager Craig Harrison (centre) with his summer signings (left to right)  Jack Munns, Blair Adams, Ryan Donaldson, Scott Loach, Jake Cassidy and Luke George. Picture by FRANK REID
Former Hartlepool manager Craig Harrison (centre) with his summer signings (left to right) Jack Munns, Blair Adams, Ryan Donaldson, Scott Loach, Jake Cassidy and Luke George. Picture by FRANK REID

It’s fair to say that Pools’ record in the transfer market in recent years has been mixed to say the least.

For every gem they’ve managed to pick out, there’s been four or five duds.

Football is subjective, a game full of opinions – and everyone will have their own take on how successful the club’s signing from last summer were.

Here our Pools writer Liam Kennedy marks each one of Craig Harrison’s 13 additions out of five.

Also assessed, is whether they still have a future at the club – those who remain, that is, after what was a turbulent season at Victoria Park.

Luke George (from Chester)

Injuries meant the player brought in as Pools’ new midfield enforcer never really got going.

Looked OK in midfield, when available, probably slightly better as a makeshift right-back.

Is rumoured to have an option for another year, but it would be some shock if he does not step away from the professional game and return to a part-time outfit.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Louis Laing (from Inverness Caledonian Thistle)

A player who can impress and frustrate in equal measure.

Made far too many mistakes, some of them costly, in his opening season.

Another who has a year to run on his deal.

Will find it tough to hold down a place if Bates makes signings in this area because of his erratic form and inexplicable errors.

Has it all to prove.

1/5

Ryan Donaldson (from Plymouth Argyle)

The midfielder came down from League One in the summer, but he didn’t really show his quality all too often, despite the two division drop.

He was one of the more consistent performers at the start of the campaign under Harrison but injury saw him miss more than six months of football.

Has a year left so will likely have a part to play. Is one of the club’s highest earners, though. Will have to earn his keep under Matthew Bates, who does rate the player for his versatility.

2/5

Jake Cassidy (from Guiseley)

An old fashioned No 9, when all told did not score anywhere near enough goals.

He will know that, just as we do.

A lot of his good work, and there was a hell of a lot of it, was done too far away from goal. That has to improve.

Bates seems to like his striker and with competition added in that department next season, it would be hoped Cassidy can step up a level.

3/5

Jonathan Franks (from Ross County)

Up there probably as Harrison’s best signing.

Scored vital goals when he arrived at the club and although his performances tailed off he was a key cog in Harrison’s Pools wheel.

Would it be wishful thinking to hope Bates could persuade him to come back from Wrexham? He would have stayed had Pools been able to offer him a deal, but had to depart due to financial restrictions and a transfer embargo.

4/5

Jack Munns (from Cheltenham Town)

One of those to throw in the ‘promising pre-season, but that’s about it’ category.

Massive improvements needed, although the side never really played to his reported strengths.

Has one year to go at Pools.

1/5

Conor Newton (from Cambridge United)

Another player who really did not live up to his billing.

Was not an automatic pick under Harrison, but made a central role his own under Bates.

If selected will likely have to assume the role of departing Michael Woods. A similar type of player, probably too similar to played alongside him midfield, but options were limited.

2/5

Blair Adams (from Hamilton Academical)

Only towards the end of last season did we see anything on note from South Shields’ lad Adams. And it all seemed to start with that cracker at Aldershot.

If the Adams of the first half of the season shows he will find games hard to come by. Anything like the end of the campaign and he’s in.

2/5

Michael Ledger (LOAN from Sunderland)

Just never got going.

Injuries crippled him after playing non-stop for more than two years. It is too much for a young lad physically and it definitely told, much to Pools’ frustration.

1/5

Scott Loach (from Notts County)

With Franks, former England call up Loach was a class act.

Has taken some criticism for his reluctance to come off his line, but no keeper is perfect.

His saves alone rescued points galore for Pools last season and without his contribution Pools might well have dropped out of the fifth tier.

A massive character around the dressing room it would be a big shock if he was not a mainstay next season.

4/5

Keith Watson (LOAN from St Johnstone)

An absolute cracker of a signing.

Is actually out of contract this summer. Could a move be on?

Injuries would be the obvious concern moving forward.

3/5

The others

Tomi Adeloye and James Thorne were given little chance to prove their worth while at the Vic and there was very good reason for that.

0/5 (both)