Where has it all gone wrong at Hartlepool United?

ON THE ATTACK: Jonathan Franks in action against Morecambe. Picture by FRANK REID
ON THE ATTACK: Jonathan Franks in action against Morecambe. Picture by FRANK REID

JONATHAN Franks admits he is at a loss to explain how Hartlepool United have gone from play-off contenders to battling for league survival in less than a year.

At the turn of 2014 Pools were pushing for a top-seven spot yet ended the season fighting to stay in Sky Bet League Two after six defeats on the trot.

That poor run of form has carried over into this season, with Pools losing 15 of the 23 league matches played so far – the latest coming in the 2-0 defeat to Morecambe.

Eight points adrift, they prop up the rest of the Football League going into the New Year.

Franks told SportMail: “I believed we were going to get three points against Morecambe but that wasn’t to be and it was so disappointing.

“Last season we were only three or four points away from the play-offs at one stage and then we lost six games on the bounce.

“That came from nowhere.

“We had the same players that were pushing for the play-offs and then to go on that losing run. I am not sure how that can happen.

“This season we haven’t got going or ever had any momentum. We have had the odd win early on but could never get two on the spin to gain some momentum.”

“We need that win and I thought Morecambe was going to be that win.”

Time is running out and Pools need at least 10 wins from the next 23 matches if they are to get anywhere near the 51 points usually needed to stay up.

With just 14 to their name so far, it is a mammoth task.

Next up is a trip to promotion challengers Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.

Franks said: “2015 has to be better.

“We don’t have much time left to change that but the next game is Wycombe Wanderers away.

“There is no pressure on us to get the win as they are up near the top and hopefully we can get the three points.”

They will have to try without Marlon Harewood though as he serves the second of a three-match ban.

The 35-year-old was shown a straight red for violent conduct in the Boxing Day match at Mansfield Town.

Franks believes he was a miss in the defeat to Morecambe.

“Marlon has done well the last few games,” Franks told SportMail. “He always works hard but he has been working really hard.

“He bullies centre halves and we missed his physical presence up front.”