Ged McNamee reveals the catalyst to Hartlepool United's resurgence under Craig Hignett
Hartlepool United assistant boss Ged McNamee has opened up on the key changes made by Craig Hignett since he took the reins at the Super 6 Stadium.
And the former Sunderland youth chief has revealed his pride at the number of kids getting their chance at first-team level at Pools this season - with McNamee hoping the surge of young talent into Hignett’s senior pool is a sign of things to come.
Pools have lost just one game since Hignett was handed the top job at Pools for the second time on a permanent basis.
Included in that six-game sequence are creditable draws at promotion-chasing Sutton United and Ebbsfleet United, at home to Leyton Orient as well as a rampant win at Boreham Wood.
Two key factors, according to McNamee, have helped change the course of Pools’ 2018/19 campaign.
“You have to make the coaching enjoyable. Everyone wants to go to work and enjoy their job, whether that be the fans or the players,” said McNamee, who believes getting footballers playing with a smile on their faces is the perfect route to success.
“The players have a duty to win games but from Monday to Friday you have to get the players enjoying their training because that’s when you get a response on a Saturday.
“The players have worked hard since Craig came in. We do not overdo it, they have taken in the messages of how we want to play and hopefully fans see that on a Saturday.”
Another factor in Pools’ resurgence is the freedom Hignett has given his squad, according to McNamee.
He said: “We have got footballers in this team - I do not see the point in just banging it up the pitch.
“We try to play and I think you can see we break well, open teams up. At the weekend it was just that we didn’t finish it off at the end.
“The main thing Craig wants is for the players to go out and express themselves. He wants them to play, to pass forward, run forward - there is an emphasis on that. And I think since Craig has taken over you can see that in our play.
“The manager wants the players to relax and play an attacking game.”
There’s been a real injection of youth in the Pools setup this season, which is music to the ears of McNamee, who spent two decades at Sunderland working with their kids.
“It often gets overlooked but we have a lot of young players in our team - we have got three or four kids in the team, starting or on the bench,” he said.
“They just want to go out and play, run and score goals. For that reason you will always here me on the sideline shouting a Josh Hawkes to do his defensive stuff, work without the ball.
“It is refreshing that Hartlepool are the team in the North East giving the biggest opportunity to young players.
“Young players can come here and play - that’s partly out of necessity.
“From my point of view, part of my job is working with these young players to do that bit extra with them.
“I am trying to give them the right examples to work towards. They know if they want to go from Hartlepool to play at a higher level they can’t just turn up and do the bare minimum. You have to live right, you have to work, you have to do extra.
“I am always badgering them, talking to them. It is about trying to make them better players - that’s part of my job, to make sure we have good players but also have the potential to sell these players on.
“Short term we want them to play here but long term we want them to progress higher.”