`

Matthew Bates discusses his system, squad and Hartlepool United’s need to improve

Matthew Bates.
Matthew Bates.

Hartlepool United have lost only one of their opening five National League games, but Matthew Bates believes there’s definite room for improvement.

Despite only suffering the one reverse, Pools have also only won on one occasion - last time out against bottom of the table Maidenhead United.

And while Bates thinks there have been plenty of positives to take from his side’s five showings to date, he says the fans have not seen the best Pools can offer.

“We created chances in our games but I know we can be better. I want these players to be better,” said Bates, whose side take on second bottom Dagenham away from home this weekend.

“I haven’t done anything yet, the lads haven’t done anything yet. This, to us, is just a start.

“The start looks better after a win but we want more.

“We have only been beaten once in five, which is a good statistic, but not quite as good as we want it to be.”

While Bates may only be a handful of games into his full time managerial career, there are already positive signs with the changes he has made.

Having stuck quite rigidly to a system he felt served his side best in pre-season - 3-4-2-1 - when he saw things were not quite working he tweaked it and went to a proper 3-5-2.

Many, much more experienced managers, have fell on their sword for sticking far too rigidly to their principles. The fact Bates is willing to change his own plans is a very positive sign.

Bates has opened up on the system and style of play he wants it to deliver ahead of the trip south.

“In possession I want us to be fluid,” he said.

“With the three defenders and one of the midfielders you will always have four players - that gives the others the freedom to cause problems for the opposition.

“We want them all to be getting on the ball and interchanging.

“That’s what we want them to do, and that’s worked so far.”

Bates has hinted that with THREE games in EIGHT days, and TWO in the space of 48 hours that he could make changes to his side over the weekend.

He’s just delighted he has a squad more than capable of dealing with such challenges.

“I wanted a good squad of 22. Two for each position,” he said.

“Did I think the 22 would be as competitive as it is? Probably not.

“Everyone is fighting for places. With that there has been no moaning or groaning. I have laid down the law to the players. They have been told that if they do not want to be here they can go.

“They know where I stand. They know they have to work hard to get in the team.

“With the new players coming in it has freshened things up.

“You have seen the players who were already here step up their game due to the calibre of players who have come in. There’s a real different feel this year.”