LONG READ: Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor on 'fixable problem' with Gime Toure

There doesn't seem to be any love lost between Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor and top scorer Gime Toure following the forward’s suspension for violent conduct.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th January 2020, 5:00 pm
Hartlepool United's Gime Toure celebrates after scoring their second goal during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and AFC Fylde at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 13th August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Toure was handed a three match ban by the Football Association for hitting out at an Oxford United player during the 4-1 FA Cup third round defeat at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.

Following the news, Challinor condemned the 25-year-old’s actions and expressed his disappointment with the player during such a crucial spell for the club.

The suspension leaves Pools with just one senior striker – Nicke Kabamba – to choose from going into Saturday’s trip to Dover Athletic.

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Dagenham & Redbridge's Mitch Brundle battles with Hartlepool United's Gime Toure during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Dagenham & Redbridge at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Sunday 22nd December 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Challinor is thought to be closing in on a forward though it is unlikely a deal will be reached and approved before this weekend.

One player who won’t be signing for Pools is AFC Fylde forward Danny Rowe, who was transfer listed by The Coasters this week. The Hartlepool manager was quick to quash any early speculation regarding a potential reunion with the striker.

With Toure, Challinor has an issue that he’ll be looking to resolve quickly.

When Challinor was appointed as Hartlepool manager, there was some trepidation regarding his history with Toure after the Frenchman left Fylde to join Sutton United under controversial circumstances last winter.

Hartlepool United's Gime Toure celebrates after scoring their second goal during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and AFC Fylde at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 13th August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

This caused Challinor to criticise Toure’s character at the time. But the slate had supposedly been wiped clean when the 44-year-old arrived at Victoria Park and Toure went on to score five goals in his first three starts under the new Pools boss.

But after failing to find the back of the net since, Toure has cut a frustrated figure in recent weeks.

And at Oxford he let his frustrations get the better of him as he was found guilty of violent conduct. After sitting out on Tuesday night against Eastleigh, Toure will now miss the trips to Dover and Yeovil Town and subsequently roughly 1,400 miles of travelling over the next week.

Just hours after Challinor criticised Toure’s actions, speculation regarding a strained relationship between the pair increased when the Frenchman posted a photo of him alongside former Pools boss Craig Hignett with the caption ‘the best’ on Instagram, which was later changed.

The current United manager hasn’t spoke with Toure since his suspension was announced and stands by his strong comments following Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Eastleigh.

“I haven’t spoken to Gime because we had Wednesday off and I don’t really need to speak to him, but I will today,” Challinor said.

“I don’t think what I said [on Tuesday] was particularly strong because if one of your players goes and punches and opposition player and gets a three match ban, I don’t think that’s strong, I think it’s stupid on the player’s part.

“I’m not going to defend the indefensible and as I’ve said he’s let his teammates down and he’s let the club down.

“We miss a player for three games in what is a busy period for us and we’ve got a small squad.

“Whether things have been taken out of context I’m not too sure but if you think I’m going to back that then you’d have to be stupid.

“We need to make sure we have as many players available as possible, what we don’t need is people being stupid, I want people to give everything for the football club with a level of professionalism and discipline.

“We can’t afford to be missing players especially when it’s our top scorer and a player who can be a real threat for us so everyone suffers as a result of it.”

A large part of Challinor’s frustration with Toure is down to the fact that the Frenchman is the club’s top goalscorer and in turn one of their most important players.

And despite suggestions of a strained relationship, Challinor hasn’t given up on the forward as he looks to make the most of the tools he has at his disposal.

“A problem that is fixable in terms of Gime looking at what he needs to do,” revealed the Pools manager.

“Tommy Miller [former Hartlepool midfielder] phoned me before Hartlepool signed Gime and asked me what I thought – I said that if Gime uses his physical attributes then he shouldn’t be playing at this level.

“The challenge is getting him to use those attributes and the most difficult thing with him is that he’s technically all right because if he wasn’t good technically, he would just run and probably be more of a threat because he’d run in behind and his power and his pace should terrify defenders at this level.

“If you can get him to do that on a consistent basis then he’s not a National League player.

“The challenge is to get him to do that and I understand people want to get on the ball like he does but we need to look at things from a selfish perspective and think about what is going to get him his goals.

“If he does it, he can be unplayable, he just needs to have those days more consistently.

“He’s frustrating but he’s a match winner and we haven’t got a lot of them so it’s important we get him in the right areas.

“That’s not out wide on the halfway line trying to beat a man, it’s in and around the penalty area in the final third where he can go past players and score goals.”

“Whether the penny drops or not will determine where he goes and how successful he is.”