Hartlepool United have players who can win promotion from National League

Matthew Bates and Ian Gallagher watch over proceedings at Cheltenham.
Matthew Bates and Ian Gallagher watch over proceedings at Cheltenham.

Matthew Bates insists Hartlepool United DO have a core of players who can bring the club back into the Football League.

The interim boss feels the squad HAVE proved something during his brief tenure.

There IS a good group here, though it’s hard right now to talk about it given we have only just been relegated

MATTHEW BATES

Bates was placed in charge of the squad, in alliance with Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher after then-chairman Gary Coxall sacked Dave Jones.

Pools appeared to have ‘lost the plot’ as they suffered back-to-back defeats to Leyton Orient and Barnet.

But Bates and his associates lifted the squad out of its depressed state, Pools coming within minutes of surviving in the Football League.

“The lads, as players, have to take some of the blame, but the blame has to be apportioned to other people as well,” said the defender.

“There IS a good group here, though it’s hard right now to talk about it given we have only just been relegated.

“For those two games, they were brilliant and there’s a core here who will do their best for Hartlepool United Football Club and bounce back.”

While the 30-year-old did not name the critics of the Pools squad, the inference is that one was in fact Jones, who questioned the fitness of the players as well as the club’s mentality of failure.

“I said [after taking over] I’d heard questions had been asked about this squad,” said the 30-year-old, one of the players himself.

“Where do I start?

“Are they physical enough? Are they fit enough? Are there too many technical players, but not physical enough? Can they score?

“Every question asked in the games we had they answered.

“On Saturday, we didn’t just beat a team who were promoted, we battered them second-half.”

Bates says Pools must bounce back from the situation they have found themselves in – and fast.

The former Middlesbrough defender says the tight-knit nature of the set-up at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium is both a strength and source of inspiration.

“This club will be here longer than I’ll be alive,” he said.

“It’s not about me or the players, it’s about building and bouncing back, which I am sure it will.

“It’s a family club, every member of staff want the best for this club.

“It will bounce back, it has to bounce back.”

Bates is currently third favourite for the vacant job at the Vic at 3-1 on one bookmaker’s list.

North-East lad, Craig Harrison, manager of Welsh Premier League champions TNS, tops the pile at 15-8.

Marcus Bignot, sacked by Grimsby after less than six months on charge, is second favourite at 2-1.

Ex-Barnet boss Martin Allen and sacked Newport manager Graham Westley are at 16-1 with former Championship managers, Kenny Jackett, Dougie Freedman, Paul Ince and Owen Coyle on 25-1.