New Hartlepool United boss Darren Sarll wants Pools to push for the play-offs next season

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New Hartlepool United boss Darren Sarll admits he wants Pools to challenge for the play-offs next season.

The 41-year-old knows what it takes to crack the National League top seven, having led both Yeovil and Woking to the play-offs during his first season in charge, and he'll be hoping to repeat the feat for the third time in the North East.

Despite being top after five games, Pools rarely threatened the play-offs after the season settled down and spent more time looking over their shoulders towards the drop than they did thinking about promotion.

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Pools finished the campaign strongly under previous boss Kevin Phillips, picking up 11 points from the last 18 available, but still finished in 12th, five places and 11 points short of the top seven.

Sarll is encouraging supporters to be optimistic ahead of next season.Sarll is encouraging supporters to be optimistic ahead of next season.
Sarll is encouraging supporters to be optimistic ahead of next season.

However, with one of the league's highest average attendances, a proud history as a Football League side and the promise of a competitive budget, few fans would be satisfied with another mid-table finish next term.

Sarll certainly has a difficult job on his hands, with an expectant set of supporters never shy of voicing their frustrations and a squad in need of a rebuild, but the new manager is determined to challenge for the play-offs in his first season in the dugout.

While in charge at Woking and Yeovil, Sarll found out for himself just how difficult a place the Suit Direct Stadium can be to visit - when it's at its best, the historic ground can be hostile and intimidating for away sides.

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Sarll will know that although a good start doesn't guarantee success - just ask John Askey - momentum is a precious commodity in football and, if Pools can cut out some of the inconsistencies that plagued them last season and recruit well this summer, there's no reason they can't challenge for promotion next term.

And, rather than seeking to temper the fans expectations, the new man in the hotseat is determined to deliver a squad capable of competing at the right end of the table.

"To me, at this place, one of the most important things is that we show intent - the intent to win the ball, to win games and to win promotion if we can," he said.

"When I came here as an opponent, I felt something - an anticipation.

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"Our intention will be to try and win every game, and I think the fans will get behind that.

"Over the course of the campaign, those wins, those three points, all add up and it could become a really enjoyable season.

"I'd be mad to try and manage the expectations of supporters.

"They expect to win and they expect a certain level of commitment, so for me to demand anything other than that would be wrong and I think it would be dishonest.

"We have to get ourselves in a position where we can compete in this league so that, by the end of the season, we are close."

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