PHIL Brown will be the man charged with the task of saving Hartlepool United from relegation to League Two, writes CRAIG HOPE.
The 53-year-old is set for a return to Victoria Park as manager some 27 years after last appearing in the blue and white of his first professional club.
SportMail revealed two weeks ago today that Brown – at the time a 20-1 shot with bookies – was interested in replacing Neale Cooper in the Victoria Park hot seat.
That saw the South Shields-born boss elevated to market favouritism, a position he has occupied ever since.
And now, having impressed chairman Ken Hodcroft and chief executive Russ Green during interview with his blueprint for survival, the charismatic former Pools favourite is set to be installed.
Brian Horton, his trusted assistant at Hull City, will take on the role of No.2, while Fred Barber is likely to arrive as goalkeeping coach.
Brown and his proposed backroom team were at Gateshead’s International Stadium last night to see Pools’ reserves in action, the new man signalling his intent to get to grips will all levels of the football club.
Contract negotiations are ongoing, however, although a development on that front is expected within the next 24 hours and Brown is almost certain to be in the dugout for Saturday’s visit of Coventry City.
He is sure to be afforded a rapturous welcome from supporters who had named him as their preferred choice of manager.
But Brown, who earlier this week admitted survival would be a “massive task but not impossible”, inherits a side marooned at the foot of League One, six points from second bottom Shrewsbury Town and nine from safety.
The home clash with the Sky Blues is followed by the arrival of Oldham Athletic a week tonight and Brown will be hoping for an immediate impact.
He was among the crowd last Wednesday night to see Pools beaten 2-0 by league leaders Tranmere Rovers, a result followed by Saturday’s 1-0 reverse at Yeovil Town which extends their winless run to 16 matches.
Brown, though, has said that he is relishing the challenge having beaten off competition from Craig Short, John Hughes and Colin Cooper to land the role, and is bidding to rebuild what was - during his spell in the Premier League with Hull – a reputation as one of England’s brightest managers.
Brown is well connected throughout the game having worked with Sam Allardyce at Bolton Wanderers, and he is sure to call on those allies in an effort to bolster his squad.
He has previously worked with two of the Pools number, both Sam Collins and Simon Walton having been under his care on Humberside.
Brown’s last managerial appointment was with League One Preston North End.
That tenure lasted less than 12 months before, in December of last year, he was sacked.
Ironically, his last victory came at Victoria Park in late November.