Hartlepool United have set their standard – and boss Craig Harrison says performance levels must not slip

Gateshead FC V Hartlepool United. National League.''Gateshead's Neill Byrne and Hartlepool's Devante Rodney.''Picture: TOM BANKS
Gateshead FC V Hartlepool United. National League.''Gateshead's Neill Byrne and Hartlepool's Devante Rodney.''Picture: TOM BANKS

Hartlepool United have set the bar high – they must not allow their performances to slide below that, according to boss Craig Harrison.

The Pools manager believes his players still have more to give this season, having flattered to deceive so far this campaign.

While some more optimistic Poolies expected Harrison and Co to be right in the automatic promotion race this season, many understood that, due to the ongoing difficulties off the field, and turnaround in players on it, that a season of struggles may ensue.

At present, they’re not a million miles away from the play-off spots – eight points, in fact – but, in truth, they’ve never once looked like really elbowing themselves into the mix to go back to the Football League at the first time of asking.

Harrison would be the first to admit that his side’s performances, at times this season, have not been up to scratch.

Boxing Day at the Gateshead International Stadium was not that, though.

It was the exact opposite.

Pools showed bottle, fight and passion, something rarely seen in the last 18 months.

And with that show, in which his side came from a goal behind and a man down to rescue a potentially valuable National League point, Harrison believes the bar has been set.

And starting with Monday’s rematch at home to Gateshead, he does not want anyone to drop below it.

“That is the gold standard now,” said Harrison.

“We cannot allow ourselves to drop below that level of performance.”

He continued: “The timing of that performance could not have been any better.

“In a way, it feels like it was worth more than a point.

“The biggest thing for me is the togetherness of everyone.

“We have given some poor points away recently.

“Now we can draw a line under it, hopefully.”

The blame for Pools’ recent run has been placed on the players, those in the boardroom, as well as those who have left it in the not-too-distant past.

But Harrison says, when things aren’t going well, the buck stops with him.

“When things are not going right at a club, the first place you have to look is in the mirror,” he said.

“It’s a case of making sure we move on, starting on Monday, and start picking up some points.

“We have Gateshead at our place, then we go again.

“At this time of year, it is easy to put a run together.

“Yes, we want to play good football. Yes, we want to create chances.

“Yes, we want to score goals, but if you out that effort in week in, week out, we will not get beaten off anybody.”

Monday’s game at the Vic kicks off at 3pm.