Hartlepool United have an outstanding young boss and man-manager in Craig Harrison.
So says the person who knows him as well as anyone.
He’s really keen on developing people individually, not just the teamPAUL HARRISON
Confusingly he is called Harrison too, though he is no relation.
Paul Harrison was a loyal lieutenant of Craig at the all-conquering The New Saints, the club which won six Welsh Premier League championships in six seasons.
The 32-year-old, the goalkeeper and skipper of TNS, is perfectly positioned to lift the lid on Craig Harrison and what Pools and the squad can expect today and beyond.
Pools today reported back to pre-season training in Durham, where Craig will be plotting a seventh title in as many years, this time in the National League.
“Craig is a straight down the line man,” revealed Paul.
“What you see with him is what you get.
“It will be hard work for the players and he’ll expect a good attitude from the squad.
“As a player if you give your all he’ll always be straight with you.
“I expect there’ll be a lot of graft from the start for the Hartlepool players but they’ll do football right from the start too.
“Craig is a big believer in sports science and he places a lot of store in that area.
“He’s really keen on developing people individually, not just the team.
“Craig was very driven as a manager and he was always looking to get more out of his players.
“He’s got very good man-management skills and a great way of dealing with his players.
“I have to say he was always brilliant with me.
“I was his captain and got on well with him as a friend as well.
“I have to say I enjoyed all my years with Craig.”
Of course Paul would have enjoyed every minute - TNS walked away with the Welsh Premier League every season.
That brought a steady fare of Champions League football and the goalie will lead out the Oswestry club tomorrow night in the first leg of their qualifier against Gibraltar champions, College Europa.
Last season, the Welsh Premier League champions made history by breaking Ajax’s 44-year world record for the most consecutive wins.
The great Dutch team won 26 consecutive games in 1972 but TNS’s 2-0 victory at Cefn Druids took the tally to 27.
Clearly, the club has good players but Paul Harrison says Craig Harrison’s management has contributed so much.
“We’ve had massive success here at TNS,” said the Scouser, who began his career at Liverpool.
“A lot of it down to Craig.
“It’s easy to say ‘TNS have the best players’ but to perform with such consistency over these last six years is down to the manger.
“He keeps everyone grounded and keeps demanding more, there is never a chance of resting on your laurels.”
Harrison the player always suspected Harrison the manager’s time at TNS would end one day and he’s not surprised he has his chance back in England.
“I used to speak to Craig a lot off the pitch, I knew he wanted to take the next step,” he said.
“It was disappointing to see him go, but he couldn’t really have done any more here, he’s won everything.
“Everyone is pleased for him to have got a good job in England and back in the area where he’s from.”
While Craig Harrison and Pools have their work cut out to bounce back after their first relegation from of the Football League, Paul Harrison says the club not be in better hands.
“He will lift the club,” said the keeper, who has made over 300 appearances for TNS. “Craig wants Hartlepool to be a success and he won’t rest until he’s done that.
“He will play a good style of football. I hope all goes well for him.
“Given what Hartlepool went through, success might not be instant but if Craig is given time then they have a great chance.”