FOUR key issues facing Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison

Michael Woods
Michael Woods

If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Poolie, it’s hard not to feel like Hartlepool United are trying their best to ruin your weekends ... and your weekdays for that matter!

Another comprehensive loss to yet another National League minnow on Saturday underlined that sobering fact.

Positives were few and far between at Victoria Park as AFC Fylde, promoted from the National League North last season and making their debut in the fifth tier, cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win, courtesy of goals from Henry Jones and Danny Rowe.

Next up for Pools this afternoon is a trip to Guiseley, and having not won in six, the honeymoon period is well and truly over for Craig Harrison.
Pressure is already piling on the former TNS boss, and will only ramp up a level if Pools return winless from their jaunt to Yorkshire.

But what does Harrison need to address prior to the clash? Here we look at FOUR issues facing the manager ahead of the Nethermoor Park clash.

Defensive selection headache

Harrison must first decide who will play in his back four, or three should he see fit.

Recent arrival Keith Watson is almost certain to retain his place in the heart of the backline, so too Blair Adams, despite a shaky 90 last time out.

The other two spots are up for grabs. Carl Magnay may well come back into the reckoning but Kenton Richardson may have to come in at right-back, making for a rather unbalanced defence.


Pools fans don’t know what the manager is going to conjure up next - one half it is a 4-4-2, the next a 3-5-2, then a 4-2-3-1, and so on.

Consistency at any level of football is key and Pools have so far shown a lack of it in every sense.

This could be arrested somewhat by working out a system that works best with the players available. And more importantly, sticking to it.

Strike support

The only player who got remotely close to providing any kind of support to Jake Cassidy was Jonathan Franks.

His jinking runs off the left did little in terms of creating chances but at least he was within 20 yards of the often isolated striker.
This has to change against Cassidy’s former club this afternoon.

It is no good having a big target man up there, with no one willing to gamble and run off or in behind.

Midfield balance

Things still don’t seem right in the centre of Pools midfield.
At the weekend Jack Munns was partnered by Conor Newton - the two were so scarcely involved you could have been forgiven for forgetting they were even on the park.

And to be honest it was not all that much better for Ryan Donaldson on the right or Nicky Featherstone further back.

Michael Woods is a player I really like. It could well be time for him to be thrown into the mix.

In truth, can he really be much worse in there than the trio tasked with the role at the weekend?

His pre-season shows would certainly suggest otherwise. In times of need, he’s got to be worth a shot.