Richard Money admits he’s been impressed by what he has seen from his Hartlepool United squad.
Pools won only their second National League game since the first week of October as they beat Gateshead at the Super 6 Stadium on Boxing Day.
It’s a sequence of results which has seen them slip from right in the National League promotion play off mix, to some 10 points outside the reckoning.
Money, though, is pleased with what his players have produced, both on the training pitches of East Durham College, Peterlee, the classroom and out on the park in fifth tier action.
“We are beginning to find a way, a playing style, a direction and identity, if you will,” he said ahead of this weekend’s visit of Maidstone United to the Vic.
“I have been pleased that we have done a lot of work on where players should be, with and without the ball. We have shown the scenarios up on the TV, produced slides for them to digest.
“We are trying to show them how to have an impact on their opponents they face, whoever the opposition.
“I have been impressed with the way the players have taken it on board. They have tried to implement it.
“I have been particularly impressed with the forward players - they have implemented the plans we have worked on.”
Home form has been a real problem, not only in his predecessor’s rein, but long before it too.
One victory at Victoria Park under the belt, Money has his eyes on more.
“It is important for any manager to win football games,” said the manager.
“I said in the press conference when I was announced that the supporters would only be patient for so long if we were playing well and not winning games. For that reason it was very important.
“We have another home game this weekend and we will see if we can build on it.
“In the last game we were patchy at times but it was the fourth game in 10 days so that’s understandable.”
Tired and weary, Pools still showed some bottle and fight to come back against Heed. It was a game that broke the mould, somewhat. All too often this campaign Pools have taken the lead on home turf then proceeded to collapse and lose from a winning position. Not this time, though.
“Our players haven’t come back from being down too often,” he said.
“Against Havant we rescued a point. At Gateshead we did everything we could to get a point after shooting ourselves in the foot and we got back in front against Gateshead again.
“To be able to do that and see the game out was a step in the right direction for us as a team.”
One key operator for Money and Pools over the festive period has been Liam Noble. The 12-goal midfielder - who sits fifth in the National League scoring charts - has netted five goals in his last seven games, including two penalties against promotion rivals Heed.
Money knows the value of having Noble firing on all cylinders.
“He is a good penalty taker. It was more of a surprise he missed the one at Gateshead as he normally scores. He has a very good record from the spot,” said Money on the former Sunderland and Carlisle United man.
“He showed some bottle and some smart thinking by putting it in the other corner. It was good for him and an important goal for us.”
One of the biggest changes in Money’s time at Pools has been the system.
The club have gone from playing three at the back week-in, week-out under Matthew Bates to operating with a flat back four, without fail, under Money.
It’s fair to say Money is no fan of a three-man backline and has no plans to return to the Bates experiment.
“I do not want to play three at the back, I think I have shown that,” he said.
“That’s not saying we wont but I think we need to get more players further forward in advanced positions.”