Takeover or not, should Hartlepool United trust caretaker Matthew Bates with the top job on a full-time basis?
It is a question that many would have scoffed at a few weeks ago, but a number of improved performances and a three-game unbeaten run has turned heads of late.
Few thought Bates had the credentials, or had earned the right to the job. Some thought he was tarnished with failure, having sat side-by-side with Craig Harrison in the worst season in the club’s history. Still registered as a player, some of the harshest critics even questioned the 31-year-old’s integrity and drive.
Not now, though. Confidence has flooded back to Victoria Park. Players look transformed and a little glimmer of hope has returned to the horizon, helped somewhat by Raj Singh and his £1.2million ‘Save Pools’ kitty.
But should he be given the reins on a full-time basis, even if Singh rides in over the next few weeks?
Scott Loach admits the club has been freshened up under Bates, but he has stopped short of saying the caretaker has earned his right to the job.
“Batesy is one of us,” said Loach.
“You cannot say he has earned his shot at the job full-time but he has brought confidence back. And the lads really like working for him.
“It is whether he wants it or not.
“He looks after us in training, so we owe it to him to get this club over the line this season.”
Tonight Pools take on Bromley, fresh from a result at the weekend which saw them book a place at Wembley in the FA Trophy final.
Two confident sides will lock horns at the Vic this evening, but Loach says the Pools players will only be concentrating on factors they can change, not worry about others that they can’t.
“That win was massive for everyone,” said Loach.
“It has been great for morale and it was good for the manager, too.
“He has been great since he came in. The confidence that was absent at the start seems to have returned to some of the boys now.
“I have a lot of respect for Craig [Harrison]. I like him a lot, he brought me to the club and showed faith in me.
“That is not the same for everybody and maybe some needed to be refreshed. Some lads with a clean slate have stood up and cemented a place and are worthy of the shirt now.
“This club has not been a nice environment this season but it feels like we have this finally back in our hands. It is our job to keep improving.”
The former Watford keeper, whose own performances have improved somewhat in recent weeks, continued: “We are not worried about others. We need to do the job ourselves.
“We have got to keep performing. We are going to lose games but I think we will win games, too.
“We have had kicks in the teeth in recent weeks but we have shown we can bounce back from that.
“That we need to do week-in, week-out for the rest of the season.
“We now manage games. Earlier in the year we were unable to see a game out but now we have shown we have the confidence to do it.”