It’s fair to say it’s been a hit and miss first month at the Super 6 Stadium for Hartlepool United manager Richard Money.
A couple of impressive wins - at Leamington and at home to Gateshead - have been tempered by a sobering loss on Boxing Day at the International Stadium as well as the weekend reverse against Maidstone United, who sat 23rd before a ball was kicked.
But looking at his first four weeks at the helm under the microscope, what positives can Money take from his team’s performances? Here our Pools writer Liam Kennedy picks out SEVEN reasons to look on the bright (or brighter) side.
DEFINITION OF A SYSTEM AND STYLE OF PLAY
Pools want to play football, create chances and get men forward. At the moment they are falling short of that, but the willing is definitely there.
Before Money arrived it was impossible to know what their pattern of play was, or if there was any set plan.
Whether you agree with it or not, Money is keen to build a playing identity at Pools. That can never be a bad thing.
RYAN DONALDSON GOT OFF THE MARK
The performances have been there this season, but the goals have not.
Leamington was his first of the season.
Donaldson is no full-back - he’s been wasted there all season. He’s now finding space in areas he can hurt the opposition.
RETURN OF JAKE CASSIDY
The striker is not everyone’s cup of tea, but being brutally honest, I just don’t see it.
He’s a handful at this level and it’s easy to see why the player was brought back to add some bulk and physicality to the Pools frontline.
THE CARL MAGNAY EXPERIMENT
Not for one second did I think the Magnay to midfield experiment would work.
Have to say I have been proved wrong.
Having looked like a fish out of water at Gateshead, Magnay has excelled against the likes of Chesterfield and Maidstone.
It is not his preferred position, nor is it his best, but he’s doing a cracking job for the team in there.
THE RETURN OF FOUR AT THE BACK
Matthew Bates, without fail, stuck to three at the back during his time at Pools - it was something Money was very quick to abandon.
It seems to suit the squad better in every way, shape and form, allowing more players to play where they want to - further forward.
MARK KITCHING COMING TO THE PARTY
And that brings me on to the emergence of former Middlesbrough kid Kitching over the festive period.
He struggled massively on the left of a five-man midfield but overlapping at will he’s been excellent of late.
Defensively he can still be caught out, but in the second half v Maidstone he was Pools’ main attacking threat.
LUKE JAMES’ LONG-AWAITED THIRD COMING AT POOLS
He’s back. And this time it looks a lot more like the old James.
Dropping the striker, and taking away from a central role has been just what the doctor ordered for James and for Pools.
Long may it continue.