New boss Craig Hignett relishes chance to do Hartlepool United job his way

New Pools boss Craig Hignett
New Pools boss Craig Hignett

Craig Hignett has been charged with the task of keeping Hartlepool United in the Football League and then taking the club forward – his way.

And the former assistant manager will be given free rein by owners JPNG to do that.

Hignett succeeds Ronnie Moore, who was sacked yesterday after chairman Gary Coxall ended the 14-month reign of the architect of the Great Escape.

Coxall will allow the 46-year-old to assemble his own backroom staff, with Moore’s right-hand-man Sam Collins taking up a new job at Victoria Park.

Hignett’s former Middlesbrough team-mate, Curtis Fleming, is in the frame for the number two’s position.

And there could be an announcement to that effect when Higgy is officially unveiled this afternoon at the Vic.

Former Pools promotion winner and now Middlesbrough Academy coach Mark Tinkler, who has guided the Boro U18 team into Europe, may also be in contention for a role.

The arrival of ex-Boro favourite Hignett is an exciting move for Pools who need a lift after Tuesday night’s depressing home defeat to Stevenage.

While he has not managed in the Football League, he enjoyed a good run as assistant to Colin Cooper at Pools in 2013-14 before becoming Aitor Karanka’s number two at Boro.

He knows Pools well and says having the backing of Coxall to do the job his way is a challenge which inspires him.

“After speaking with the chairman and hearing his vision for the club and what he wants in the future, I have bought in to all of that,” said Hignett.

“It’s a blank canvas for me so I can come in and mould things the way I want them and for a first-time manager to be able to come in and do that is fantastic.

“The big thing for me was the project and what the chairman wants to build and the foundations he wants to put in place – for me that was a big draw.

“It’s not often a manager comes in and has free rein to build a club and put things in place that they want in place and make it a solid club.”

Pools have long had a tradition of appointing an assistant from within, as has happened with Martin Scott, Michael Barron and Collins.

The former club captain, who has worn the Pools strip almost 250 times, will remain at the Vic following Moore’s departure.

But the 38-year-old has a new role.

Collins will work with the club’s Under-21 players, a HUFC statement saying his task will be “to bridge the gap from scholarship to first-team football.”a