'It is mentally really tough' – Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor opens up about how he copes with the 'non-stop' nature of football management
The life of a National League manager is non-stop – as Hartlepool United boss Dave Challinor knows all too well.
For Challinor, his full focus is on guiding the club back to the Football League with a first promotion in 14 years.
This week has seen the Pools manager make the early morning journey from the north west to take training at Peterlee on Tuesday, sign striker Danny Elliott on Wednesday, hold his pre-match press conference on Thursday and make a 250-mile journey down to Wealdstone on Friday – all while preparing for Saturday’s crucial National League encounter.
And with Pools currently sitting top of the table, the tension is ramping up as they head into the final seven games of the regular season.
"Being a manager is intense anyway and that’s why you see managers wanting some time away from it,” Challinor said.
“Regardless of the position you’re in, it’s non-stop. If we were in a position where we had nothing to play for then our attention focuses on next season in regards to players, retention, recruitment, pre-season games and plans.
"You’re always planning and rarely does your plan go to plan so you have to cover things and there is always something going on as a manager.
"The most important thing is the games and this season the games have come thick and fast so you have to move forward quickly.”
After leaving AFC Fylde in 2019, Challinor contemplated taking time away from football. But the lure of managing Hartlepool proved too enticing to turn down as he made an immediate return to management.
As he approaches 11 years in management, the Pools boss has learnt to cope with the baggage that comes with being a full-time football manager.
"Regardless of where you are, it is mentally really tough,” he admitted. “As a manager, what you’ve got to do is try and give yourself a bit of time away from football when you can.
“This comes from speaking to managers at a higher level – whether that be half an hour a day reading a book, or do something that can take your mind off football.
"It’s always going to be difficult when you’re reflecting on things and planning all the time so, as with anything, you need to find the right balance.”