Craig Harrison’s sacking may well have been the kick up the backside Hartlepool United needed - that’s the view of caretaker Matthew Bates.
The former Middlesbrough defender stepped into the Victoria Park hotseat when Harrison was given his marching orders. And since then Bates has overseen two losses and a draw.
While his opener against Ebbsfleet, after just a day of training with his squad, was utterly forgettable, the Aldershot loss and Boreham Wood draw on Saturday have definitely seen the green shoots of recovery appear.
And Bates thinks that the players’ guilt at the sacking of their former boss might just be playing its part.
“The squad has been questioned in terms of character and they have responded in recent weeks,” said Bates.
“No one likes a manager being sacked on their watch so maybe that’s kicked them in the backside.
“There are good players in there and it’s about getting the confidence out of them.”
One of the biggest shocks of the weekend was the fact Pools, down to 10-men for 25 minutes, managed to keep things clean.
“Clean sheets have been rare,” said Bates.
“They have a good scoring record in terms of stats and it’s not a perfect defensive display, but the workrate and shape was good.
“We had a long time with ten men and we can gain confidence from it.
“It was a collective effort, everyone of them cannot be faulted.
“Some may not think they played well technically, but workrate and desire - there was plenty of that on show.”
This was a step in the right direction for Bates, but by no means was it perfect. He knows his players still need to improve, if they want to turn losses and draws into wins to ease their National League relegation fears.
“All we can do is work and prepare for games, but if there’s one criticism it’s that we didn’t have enough chances,” said Bates, whose side travel to Fylde this weekend.
“We had to shut up shop and play on the counter.”