Graeme Lee is 'relishing' Hartlepool United's Boxing Day trip to face Mansfield Town

Graeme Lee is anticipating a tough afternoon when he comes up against the experienced Nigel Clough in the dugout on Boxing Day.

By Joe Ramage
Friday, 24th December 2021, 5:00 pm

Lee has enjoyed a fruitful start to his reign at Hartlepool United with three wins from four games in all competitions having made the transition from Middlesbrough’s U23 ranks to the Suit Direct Stadium earlier this month.

And while Lee has already squared off against some experienced managers in the shape of Michael Appleton and Keith Hill, he will go toe-to-toe with another on Boxing Day with Clough having managed over 600 games across the EFL.

Clough’s Mansfield Town are the form team in League Two with five wins from their previous six games, with nine wins in 10 from all competitions.

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Hartlepool United boss Graeme Lee is looking forward to the challenge of taking on in-form Mansfield Town. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

The Stags’ resurgence has seen them climb up the League Two table into the top half with Clough’s side two points better off than Lee’s Pools.

“Every game you come up against [good managers]. Last week against Scunthopre it was Ketih Hill who’s very experienced and Nigel Clough is exactly the same,” said Lee.

“What I’ve seen in the press and the way Mansfield are playing at the moment we know it’s going to be a difficult game.

“I think they’ve won nine out of their last 10 games so we know it’s a tough game again but we’ll get our plan in place and hopefully that’s enough for us.

Hartlepool United are unbeaten since the arrival of Graeme Lee in December. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

“We’ll be approaching the game to try and go and win it but we know it’s going to be a tough test.

“We probably rate it a bit like the Sheff Wed and the Lincoln games in what they can offer, so we’ve got to execute our game plan and hopefully that’s enough.”

With Pools at the opposite end of the form table, despite a strong start by Lee in the dugout, and given that their away form has been patchy this season the odds will be firmly stacked against Lee’s side.

But the Pools boss believes that is the environment he and his players will thrive in ahead of Boxing Day’s trip to the One Call Stadium.

“You’ve got a team who are the form team in the league who are confident going into it.

“They’re at home, it’s Boxing Day, so we know it’s going to be difficult but I know as a player these are the types of games you relish and it’s the same now as a manager.

“I think the lads will relish it as well. It’s a challenge, it’s a test.”

The fixture with Mansfield will see Pools begin another busy run of games over the Christmas and New Year period, but after missing out on last week’s trip to Colchester United Lee can’t wait to get going again.

“The games have been fantastic, I've loved it. I probably now feel as though it’s been too long since our last game but I'm looking forward to the Christmas period.

“I know it’s going to be game, game, game and I know it’s going to be busy but that’s what we’re in the job for, that’s what we want, and hopefully everyone will be fit and healthy and it’ll be enjoyable.”

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