Hartlepool United are promotion favourites and we must not hide from it

Craig Harrison insists Hartlepool United must “run with” their status as National League top dogs – and not run away from it.

The Pools boss says it’s only right his team are one of the favourites for top spot and wants his players to “embrace” the challenge of restoring the club to the Football League.

We are one of the big boys in the league and we’ll be expected to win every game


Harrison is accustomed to winning – he took the Welsh Premier Lague title six seasons out of six with The New Saints.

“Expectations are going to be high and it’s about we manage them,” said the 39-year-old. “At TNS I had that expectation.

“I was expected to win every game and if we drew a game it was like a defeat.

“It’s good for me, it’s about making sure the players understand those expectations.

“We are one of the big boys in the league and we’ll be expected to win every game.

“We have to accept it, embrace it and run with it, not hide.

“There is no point down-playing it, hiding from it.

“The reality is we will be one of the fancied teams in the league, one of the big boys if you like, and we have to be able to embrace it or we won’t be successful.”

Harrison is happy with his summer shopping spree – six have come in, Scott Loach, Blair Adams, Luke George, Ryan Donaldson, Jack Munns and Jake Cassidy.

All look very astute acquisitions, certainly on paper, with all bar Adams having knowledge of the National League.

And Harrison says the beauty of the signings is they know how to win.

“We have six signings in and most have National League experience which is key,” he said.

“So too is the experience of winning games because we are going to be one of the favourites in the National League.

“It’s important we all have the winning mentality and how you win games.”

Harrison says he has not been explicit, not yet anyway, with the players about the targets he is setting.

The former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender says it is important the squad beds in first.

“I’d spoken to the lads on the phone before pre-season and met a few of them before we got back,” he explained. “But it’s important to have them all back in training.

“Monday had a feeling of first day back at school, when everyone is a bit unsure.

“You want introductions out of the way. I only spoke for a couple of minutes to let them know my expectations out from day one and we build from there – this is just a base week.

“From there we go into more depth about what I want from individuals, groups and aims, targets and how we are going to do it.”