Hartlepool United have parted company with Dave Jones and put their Football League hopes in the hands of the gang of four.
Centre-half Matthew Bates will take temporary charge of the side today, assisted by club captain Billy Paynter, plus Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher from the backroom staff.
I’m fighting for my life, how about a bit of support Jeff, rather than the rubbish you are giving out?DAVE JONES
The quartet have just two games left to keep Pools in League Two, starting with Saturday’s six-pointer at Cheltenham Town.
It is a bold move by owners, JPNG, who are understood to still have Sam Collins, axed by Jones last month, on the payroll at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.
However, chairman Gary Coxall will hope the departure of Jones will give Pools’ hope of avoiding the drop into the National League.
The Pools owners were under massive pressure to end the ill-fated reign of the vastly-experienced 60-year-old in the aftermath of Saturday’s disastrous 2-0 defeat to Barnet.
Pools produced a lifeless display in a must-win game following hot on the heels of an abject performance at Leyton Orient last Monday, when they lost to what in effect was the bottom club’s youth team.
The wheels well and truly came off on Saturday against the Bees, who came to the Vic on the back of a four-match losing run and with only one win in 10 matches.
Once sub Simeon Akinola gave managerless Barnet a 2-0 lead there were chants of “Dave Jones, get out of our club” as well as “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” directed at the side.
Jones leaves with a terrible record, as bad as any manager in the club’s modern history.
Since the appointment of the former Stockport, Southampton, Wolves, Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday chief, Pools have won just four times, drawing four and losing 10, scoring 19 and conceding 29.
If you chalk off the 2-0 victory over Stevenage, which Jones claimed, and leave it with caretaker Sam Collins, his points ratio drops even lower.
The Scouser arrived as the best-qualified boss in the club’s history and with supreme confidence in his abilities
But, aside from 15 magical days in February/March when Pools beat Crewe 4-0, Exeter 3-1 and Cambridge 1-0, there was no real improvement.
In fact, Pools ended up going backwards, taking just two points from the last four matches against out-of-form sides Barnet, Leyton Orient, Carlisle and Morecambe.
Jones remained defiant when pressed by SportMail after the match whether he was going to resign.
“Listen, until the chairman tells me different I fight on,” he said.
“I’ve never given up anything, never in my life.
“My life is riddled with things I don’t give up on, so if the players had that then they would be fine.”
The players though showed absolutely no fight and the club will hope the mix of characters in their ‘gang of four’ will inspire a last-ditch revival.
Bates has a wealth of experience, having played in all four divisions, including over 100 appearances for hometown team Middlesbrough.
A former England youth international, the central defender is a quietly-spoken figure and highly-regarded by his team-mates.
Less quiet, but equally well thought of, Paynter will certainly raise the atmosphere and inject a positive approach going into the trip to Whaddon Road.
Gallagher is Pools through and through, having progressed from former player in the 90s to head physio and is very popular with the squad.
So too Parnaby, a European finalist with Middlesbrough in their superstar-laden team when Boro reached the UEFA Cup final in 2006.
The 34-year-old was brought in by then boss Craig Hignett as a conditioning coach last season and is a respected figure.
Bates, Paynter, Parnaby and Gallagher need wins against Cheltenham and Doncaster to give Pools the best possible chance of avoiding the drop.