Hartlepool United players not ‘mentally weak’ as side prepare to face second-top Doncaster

Pools boss Matthew Bates.
Pools boss Matthew Bates.

Matthew Bates feels his Hartlepool United players have answered a lot of questions by the way they have gone about trying to save the club’s future.

The ex-Middlesbrough defender, along with Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher, have been installed as the new management team following the sacking of Dave Jones.

There’s a lot been said about this group ot being fit, being mentally weak and I think we proved that wrong


For all his experience and expertise, Jones got little out of the Pools squad who slipped from 19th, the position when he took over in January, to 23rd.

Since his appointment, Pools won just four times and caretaker Sam Collins had prepared the side for the first match.

Jones constantly complained about a losing mentality at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium and inferred the players were not fit enough.

But Bates, who must lead Pools to a win over Doncaster this Saturday tea-time to give themselves any hope of avoiding the drop into the National League, says the players have shown their true selves under him and his comrades.

“If this was over a longer period of times with that attitude we would not be in this position,” said the 30-year-old.

“There’s a lot been said about this group of players not being fit, being mentally weak and I think we proved that wrong [at Cheltenham].

“I was a bit worried before the game about the physicality – one of the messages was we had to be aggressive and match their strength and work rate.

“We not only matched did that, we bettered it.

Pools MUST win the second bottom against second top clash in front of the Sky Sports cameras and hope Newport either draw or lose at home to Notts County on the same evening.

Bates was happy with the effort his side produced in the 1-0 defeat to Cheltenham and hopes for the same commitment this weekend and with a better end-product.

“I’m more confident now we can get a result against Doncaster than I was before [taking over].

“I was happy with the response at going behind – we could have folded under pressure but didn’t.

“The result wasn’t for the lack of trying or a lack of preparation.

“The players are giving everything, as I said before, their attitude has been fantastic.”

A big crowd is expected at the Vic this weekend.

Doncaster sold out their near-1,000 allocation weeks ago and Pools have slashed the prices to just a fiver for the home section.