Onside: A summer of uncertainty for Hartlepool United

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WHERE to begin?

A COUPLE of weeks ago, dozens of Poolie penguins descended on Crawley for Hartlepool United’s season finale, bringing to an end a torrid season for all concerned.

Fast forward to today and the club is now without a manager, an assistant manager and several players still don’t know whether they have a future at Pools.

Life as a Poolie is certainly never dull.

Fans, including myself, were crying out for a summer clear-out and a fresh start as we prepare for life in League Two.

Instead, the club released just six players, five of which weren’t first team regulars.

The other, Evan Horwood, was the club’s leading assist maker and first team regular for three seasons.

It seemed bizarre to me to release Evan and, as with everything at Pools, there is no doubt more to it than meets the eye.

Why release one of your better players just days before sacking the manager?

With the exception of Horwood, the retained list was cautious and the writing was on the wall that a major announcement was due any day.

And so it came with the news that both John Hughes and club stalwart Micky Barron had been sacked.

Results wise Hughes’ record was reasonable and if spread over the course of the full season would have been enough to secure safety.

But the horrific pre-Christmas form was the club’s downfall.

Despite Hughes and chief executive Russ Green both singing from the same song sheet when the Scot arrived at Victoria Park, their relationship clearly soured and his face no longer fit.

Whatever your thoughts on Barron in recent seasons, with many holding him partly responsible for the failings on the pitch, you can’t deny his passion for Pools.

17 years he spent at the club as a player, coach, assistant and caretaker manager and he has handled his departure with great dignity and composure.

But Barron, along with Hughes, do of course have to take some responsibility for relegation and if the club was going to make a change it had to be done quickly.

And now to the future and the next appointment is crucial for a club at a crossroads.

It seems the likely appointment will be former Middlesbrough player Colin Cooper – which means at least the club will be able to dust off the Mr Cooper sign for the manager’s door, every penny counts and all that.

If Cooper is confirmed as manager, then he has a hell of a job on his hands, but we will of course wish him well and give him our full backing.

Number one on the ‘To Do’ list will be to sort out the future’s of Monkhouse, Sam Collins and Ritchie Humphreys, who are all still in limbo.

It will be interesting to see who is kept on and who leaves through the exit door.

Hopefully the club will be able to hold on to Scott Flinders and Jack Baldwin – both of which are too good for League Two - although the likelihood is both could be sold.

Either way, the new manager will have to bring in fresh blood and with players now away on holiday that will be no easy task before Pools report back for pre-season.

We wait with baited breath.