Major shake-up needed at Hartlepool United says club legend

Craig Hignett. Picture by FRANK REID
Craig Hignett. Picture by FRANK REID

JOE Allon believes there needs to be a “major shake-up” at Hartlepool United if they are to get out of trouble.

Bottom of the Football League and without a win in seven league games, managerless Pools find themselves six points adrift of safety.

Allon, who scored an impressive 86 goals in 205 starts across two spells for Pools, has called on the club to appoint a new manager swiftly and believes they must have experience of being in the hot seat.

The 48-year-old likened the current situation to when Cyril Knowles took over as manager in December 1989 and helped steer struggling Pools towards safety that season, adding it would be “disastrous” if the club dropped out of the Football League.

Allon, a 1991 promotion hero, told SportMail: “It is a case of action and not words now.

“You have to understand how precarious the position is and the club has to win two games just to get on an even keel and the goal difference of minus 20 isn’t the best either.

“Whichever manager comes in has to be in the same frame as Cyril Knowles back in the day.

“It needs a major shake-up and that isn’t to disrespect any of the people there.

“But football is a results business and we have not been getting results.

“They have to start winning ugly and it is a case of blood, sweat, snot and tears.

“It is all hands to the pump and there needs to be some new faces to freshen things up and I just hope the new manager is able to bring players in.

“There is a lot of ill-feeling from the supporters because it is their club, the town’s club.

“For there not to be a league club in Hartlepool would be absolutely disastrous.”

Ex-Middlesbrough and Pools number two Craig Hignett has been the favourite for the role ever since Paul Murray was sacked last Saturday following the Blyth Spartans FA Cup defeat.

Other names strongly linked include former Tranmere Rovers boss Ronnie Moore while ex-Scunthorpe United gaffer Brian Laws is also in the running again, although he wasn’t interviewed last time round.

Allon admits the club is facing a “tough task” but says they need somebody with experience as there is no room to get it wrong.

“It is a tough task to name who the next manager should be but it should certainly be somebody with experience and with knowledge of the area and who understands the people,” added Allon.

“It needs a taskmaster, a disciplinarian.

“Higgy did a fantastic job as an assistant, whether he would want the job all to himself I don’t know.

“It has to be a very careful appointment but it has to be made rapidly.

“We only have 27 games left, that may sound a lot but when you are getting beat week in, week out, those games will soon whittle away.

“But if they go and win three or four on the trot over the coming weeks then it is a totally different story.”

Allon, who also played for Newcastle United, Swansea City and Chelsea during an illustrious career, said the fans deserve far better.

He added: “The supporters have put up with a lot and deserve a lot more back.

“They have paid up front for their season tickets and they have to get something back.”