‘If we stand still we’ll be in trouble’ – Dave Challinor’s honest pre-season verdict as he looks to raise standards at Hartlepool United

Dave Challinor admits that ‘a lot needs to change’ at Hartlepool United in order for them to be competitive in League Two this coming season.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 12:30 pm

After securing promotion from the National League last month, it’s been a frantic but underwhelming turnaround for Pools in preparation for life back in the EFL.

Just four confirmed new arrivals and three pre-season defeats against non-league opponents have done little to inspire confidence ahead of the new campaign.

And the Pools boss has pulled no punches in his assessment of the past month.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Manager Dave Challinor. Action from Gateshead FC 4-1 HUFC pre-season friendly. 24-07-2021. Picture by Bernadette Malcolmson

“A lot needs to change,” Challinor admitted. “I wouldn’t specifically point at one particular thing that needs to be better.

"Overall we need to defend better when called upon and need to be more efficient in what we do.

"I’m not a big fan of pre-season because I’m a big believer in winning and I’m limited around what I can do because in all these games you’re dictated by getting minutes in people’s legs and you end up going through the motions in terms of what that brings.”

Pools were beaten 2-1 at Blyth Spartans on Tuesday night as they suffered their third straight friendly defeat against National League North opposition. The week prior they lost 1-0 at Spennymoor Town and 4-1 at Gateshead.

But the match at Croft Park did prove to be a decent run out fitness wise with 10 of Pools’ 11 starters playing the full 90-minutes in a 3-5-2 set-up.

“I want us to chase the game but in normal circumstances I would have changed our system and made more changes,” Challinor added.

“As tempting as it is to do that, ultimately it is a process and we wanted to get 90-minutes in as many players legs as possible and on Friday we will do the same for the lads who didn’t play.

"General standards need to get better and if we stand still we’ll be in trouble. That’s individually, collectively as a management team, and a group of players so that can’t be the case and it might be a slow process to get to that point.”

Pools wrap up their pre-season campaign away to Northern Premier Division One side Dunston UTS on Friday (7pm kick-off).

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Hartlepool United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor