Ray Wilkins knows a thing or two about football – and he knows Hartlepool United have unearthed a managerial gem in Craig Hignett.
Wilkins made his first visit to Victoria Park yesterday, when he joined Pools president and friend, Jeff Stelling, on the first day of his Men United March.
There are people who will umm and arr about taking a job because they want to be somewhere where there is a good chance of successRAY WILKINS
The 59-year-old said he had no hesitation in offering his services at the start of the walk to raise funds and awareness of the Prostate Cancer UK.
Wilkins wanted to be there at the start in Stelling’s home town and at the Vic.
And he was thrilled to sing the praises of new Pools boss Hignett, who has started with a record of three wins, three draws and three defeats.
Capped 84 times by England – 10 as skipper – a midfield star with Chelsea, Manchester United, AC Milan and QPR, a manager for QPR, Fulham and Jordan and an assistant in a variety of posts, notably Chelsea and England U21, Wilkins is well qualified to talk football.
“Craig is doing wonderfully well, he’s a great guy,” said Ray.
“He’s an experienced football person, he’s done a little stint as a number two and he deserves his bash on his own.
“He’s doing a good job.
“Craig was a very good player himself, the knowledge he can pass on to the young guys at Hartlepool will be invaluable.”
Wilkins said Hignett was bold to start near the bottom – Pools were perilously close to the relegation zone in League Two whe he succeeded Ronnie Moore.
“You have to start somewhere,” said Wilkins.
“There are people who will umm and arr about taking a job because they want to be somewhere where there is a good chance of success.
“Hats off to Craig.
“It’s a tough job, the finances aren’t probably not what he’d like or probably what Hartlepool would like.
“But he’s getting on with it and getting results.”
But Wilkins reserved his biggest praise for Stelling, who today was on his second of 10 26-mile walks.
“Everyone loves Jeff,” he said. “He goes on telly and is so passionate about Hartlepool United.
“I’m sure Hartlepool are one of the nation’s favourite teams.
“It’s a fantastic thing he is doing and the awareness he is raising is as important as the money.”