Hartlepool United analysis: Craig Hignett lifts the gloom from the Super 6 Stadium as Pools swap 'old school' for the 'new school'

As the final whistle blew at the Super 6 Stadium, one Hartlepool United player dropped to his knees, hammered the turf with his fist, then raised his arms to the sky.

Saturday, 26th January 2019, 6:33 pm
Updated Saturday, 26th January 2019, 6:38 pm
Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett.

This was a young player totally overlooked by the previous manager, told he was not a defender but a forward or a winger and given little to no gametime despite the fact he was the most impressive of all of Pools’ summer signings.

This reaction from Peter Kioso said a whole lot more than the obvious. It was a little insight into the collective weight lifted off the shoulders of a confidence-drained, down-trodden squad, who got a result after learning to love playing football again.

Richard Money was a manager who had success in the past by being dictatorial and ‘old school’. That’s not something that sits well with the modern day footballer.

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That doesn’t mean they are soft. Players aren’t what they used to be, yes, but neither is society - and that’s no bad thing in many ways.

As society has left old beliefs behind, so has football.

And Money, although a lovely man to deal with and with a vast knowledge of the game, seems to have been a dinosaur manager in a modern game which has sadly passed him by.

Kioso is the epitome of that. Restored to the team under Craig Hignett, he again thrived, like he did under Matthew Bates. It’s amazing to think Money did not use the player in his right position once during his time in charge.

There was a freedom about Pools’ play, not seen for some time.

Josh Hawkes was again unleashed to express himself. We’ve not really seen that since the dying days of last season, when he broke on the scene as one of the most exciting talents in North East football.

Luke Molyneux added a slight of movement and ability to beat a man, Nicke Kabamba is the awkward striker Pools have always lacked and Ryan Donaldson looked a player reborn with the armband proudly curled over his bicep.

Calling players out and constant criticism does not get the right reaction in my workplace, nor would it yours no doubt. A dressing room is no different.

For every player that reacts to that kind of talk, 10 will not.

And that’s where Hignett and Money are so different.

Hignett’s immediate impact has been to lift, revive and believe. And long may it continue, because this squad certainly has the talent, what it has lacked is the confidence to fulfil its potential.

Promotion is beyond this group now, with a few smart additions it is not next. It shouldn’t have been this way, but the long winter which cost Pools so dear last season, has again put an end to their early season promise.

At least now the gloom has lifted earlier than it did in 2017/18, and whatever the outcome of this season, at least there’s now the feeling Pools might have stumbled on the right man to lead them, just at the right time.