PROMOTION winning hero Joe Allon has hailed the work being done by Hartlepool United’s management team and backed his former club to reach the play-offs this season.
The 47-year-old, who scored an impressive 86 goals in 205 starts across two spells for Pools, believes Colin Cooper and assistant Craig Hignett have done a “fantastic job” in steadying the ship following last season’s relegation from League One.
Allon, a 1991 promotion hero with Pools, has also backed Luke James to hit the goal trail again in the second half of the Sky Bet League Two campaign.
“Colin and Higgy have done a fantastic job,” said Allon.
“They came into the club, with not a lot of money to spend, and obviously didn’t get off to the best start because results weren’t going their way.
“But then they strung together an unbelievable run and I think everybody started to get a little bit carried away thinking they were going to be guaranteed promotion because they were doing so well.
“Every team has little blips and they have had a couple of set-backs and results but let’s hope that with Steve Howard leaving it will release some funds for Colin and Higgy to bring some players in during the transfer window and lets see if we can get into the play-offs,” added Allon who was speaking before Pools captured the signing of experienced striker Marlon Harewood.
He added: “But all in all, for a first season campaign, they have done absolutely brilliant and I think the supporters have enjoyed the type of football they have tried to play.
“Especially the youngsters that they have got and I am just praying, that with all these big fish coming week in, week out looking for this unearthed diamond, that we are able to keep hold of them for a couple of years yet.”
The former Newcastle United, Swansea City and Chelsea striker believes the play-offs is still a realistic aim this season, provided Cooper’s team can string together another run similar to the one in October and November which saw them win six out of eight league matches.
Gateshead-born Allon said: “I would love the play-offs, I really would.
“The way that they strung the results together mid-season, if they can do that again then there is no reason why they can’t.
“The year we won promotion back I think we went on an unbelievable run of something like 14 out of 15 games and we ended up getting promoted.
“If they can do something like that then they can get into the play-offs.”
As you would expect the star man for Allon so far this season has been 10-goal top scorer James.
The Amble-born 19-year-old scored his 10th goal of the season in the 2-0 win over Northampton Town but hasn’t hit the back of the net since.
Not that it is worrying Allon who believes the teenager, who has effectively led the line all season for Pools, has done “brilliantly” or someone so young.
Allon added: “I have seen Pools a couple of times and enjoyed the football and think the world of Luke James, anybody that puts the ball in the net.
“Colin [Cooper] paid me a massive tribute in the summer when he was asked ‘what do you want?’ and he said ‘I want to unearth the next Joe Allon’.
“Hopefully, Luke can go on and do the business and maybe score a few more goals before the end of the season because he has done brilliantly for a lad of his age.
“There is a good nucleus of youngsters in the side, and a little bit of experience which you need, but it is fantastic the younger players are all pulling together.
“The pride has been restored as well to the club without a shadow of a doubt.
“Nobody likes to see Pools doing badly, especially when they got relegated last year and you have your head down thinking ‘are we on a sinking ship here?’ but a stability has been reached because of the appointment of Colin and Higgy.”