Hartlepool United put off new manager search to focus on relegation dogfight

Matthew Bates. Picture by Frank Reid
Matthew Bates. Picture by Frank Reid

Hartlepool United have thrown their weight behind caretaker boss Matthew Bates, with talks to replace departed Craig Harrison on hold until after this weekend’s vital National League clash.

Club officials met with former Middlesbrough defender Bates yesterday, following the news that Harrison had left the club by mutual consent.

And he was assured that he had the hierarchy’s backing ahead of yet another crucial round of fixtures as Pools battle to beat the drop to the National League North.

Bates, along with ex-Boro youth coach Paul Jenkins, has been placed in temporary charge for Ebbsfleet’s visit to Victoria Park on Saturday.

It was a role he was also trusted with in the dying embers of last season’s ill-fated relegation campaign.

Should things go well, it is not out of the realms of possibility that Bates and Jenkins would be kept on until the end of the season, and potentially beyond.

At this stage, it is understood that the club are yet to approach any potential Harrison replacement, and they will no do so until at least after the Ebbsfleet clash.

Paul Ince is the current favourite for the post with the bookmakers.

His odds were slashed yesterday, but, having not worked for the last four years since leaving Blackpool, it is not known whether he would be under consideration.

In reality, that kind of appointment would have echoes of the Dave Jones move last January.

Other names seemingly in the frame are Lee Clark and Phil Brown.

Both have North East connections, are out of work and have been open to approaches from Pools in the recent past.

While Clark, who watched Pools on Boxing Day from the terraces at Gateshead’s International Stadium, would be sure to welcome an approach, Brown, who recently turned down the Grimsby Town job, seemingly has his eyes on a role much further up the footballing pyramid, especially after talking himself up for top job at Sunderland within the last 12 months.