Paul Hartley explains his Hartlepool United delay after former Celtic midfielder initially chose to stay with Cove Rangers

Paul Hartley has revealed it was a difficult decision to leave Cove Rangers after reports suggesting the former Hearts and Celtic midfielder turned down an initial approach by Hartlepool United.

By Joe Ramage
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 4:45 pm

Hartley had been linked with the Pools vacancy for a number of weeks before reports in Scotland suggested the 45-year-old had turned down an opportunity to take over at the Suit Direct Stadium.

A fortnight later however and Hartley was confirmed as Pools’ new boss after the club kept returning to the former Scottish international.

Hartley spent three years at Cove Rangers, earning promotions four and five to his CV while he was there, in a managerial career which has already spanned over 400 games across four clubs in Scotland.

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Paul Hartley admits it was a difficult decision to leave Cove Rangers for Hartlepool United. Picture by FRANk REID

But Hartley believes, after much deliberation, the time was right to make the move to England and test himself in the Football League.

“There’s always times where you think [things might not work out],” Hartley told The Mail.

“Listen, I had a good job at Cove and I had a great time there. But it took the chairman, and the ambition he showed me, for me to come here.

“My job was great up there and I loved it. I had a great time with the chairman, he was great.

(Left to right) Chief Operating Officer Stephen Hobin, Manager Paul Hartley, Chairman Raj Singh and Assistant Manager Gordon Young photographed in the Suit Direct Stadium. Picture by FRANk REID

“Sometimes you just need that fresh challenge and when I spoke to the chairman and Lee [Rust], and they told me about their plans, it took a little bit longer but that’s what happens in negotiations, it can take a little bit longer.

“We wanted everything to be right. We’re committing to coming down here, the chairman is committing to me. But we’re here now. We’re here to work and we’re here to get started.”

Hartley added in a recent interview with talkSPORT: “It was a long period of speaking to Hartlepool. There was a lot of stuff I had to think about.

“It was a difficult decision. I had a good relationship with my chairman which is quite unusual these days. I had a great three years there and it was a difficult decision to leave.

“But when Hartlepool kept coming back it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. To get into England is very difficult sometimes for a Scottish manager.”

And it was that constant appeal of managing in England which kept drawing Hartley back to the opportunity Pools were offering.

Having spent a decade at various levels in Scotland with Alloa Athletic, Dundee, Falkirk and Cove Rangers, Pools’ persistence paid off.

But things might have been different for Hartley had he taken an opportunity to make the move south when at Dundee.

“It was [always an ambition],” revealed Hartley.

“I had an opportunity, going back to when I was at Dundee, to go to an English club and I turned it down.

“But as you get older and you have a little bit of success I think the next step is: can you try your hand in England and try and be successful?

“But you’ve got to pick the right club and I do feel this is a good fit for us and if we can get it right here we know the fans are there.”