Nathan Thomas says that the transformation of Hartlepool United under Craig Hignett has been “absolutely ridiculous”.
Under the stewardship of Hignett and his assistant Curtis Fleming, Pools have steered themselves away from relegation danger and turned into a team more easy on the eye.
It’s so much better to play in a team that passes the ball and recycles it as well.
Gone is the long ball up to the strikers and in its replacement is a style of football centered around using the midfield to create the chances.
As far as Thomas is concerned, it’s a world away from the turn of the year. “The improvement under Higgy and Flem has been absolutely ridiculous,” he said.
“It’s a credit to them because all the boys have been fantastic under them. To go from the style of football we were playing at the start to now, we look like a different team.
“We are going up against the big boys in the league and passing them off the park.
“It’s so much better to play in a team that passes the ball and recycles it as well.”
Thomas believes that not only is the football on offer more pleasurable to watch, but it complies better with the squad’s talents.
He added: “The style of players we have suits this type of football.
“Nicky [Featherstone], [Michael] Woodsy and [Lewis] Hawks all like having the ball.
“It helps Billy out and the other centre-forwards because when the ball is just getting boomed up to them, it’s a fight to keep the ball because all the centre-forwards in this league are 6ft, 5in.
“Billy wants to pop, spin and get in the box.
“It makes my job easier because I’m not just running forwards and backwards in straight lines. I can come inside, too. It’s brilliant, so much better.”
Pools are still very much a work in progress under the new regime, but Thomas thinks that with a long pre-season they can iron out their flaws.
“It’s still definitely not perfect in what we want to do,” he admitted. “There are times when people look like they’re out of position, for example.
“It’ll be good to get a six or seven weeks pre-season into us and really nail down what we want to do.
“As long as we keep working hard, we’ll get better at what we’re doing.”