Paul Hartley on the performance which convinced Hartlepool United to sign Sunderland youngster
One game was all it took for Hartlepool United manager Paul Hartley to be sold on Sunderland youngster Ellis Taylor.
Although the obligatory research and data analysis would follow, the eye-test was good enough for Hartley to be convinced on Taylor with a season-long loan deal to Pools secured just days later.
The game in question is, of course, Pools’ final pre-season friendly against the Black Cats where Taylor was prominent in a somewhat youthful Sunderland side as the two teams played out a competitive 1-1 draw at the Suit Direct Stadium.
Taylor has been on the periphery at the Stadium of Light over the last 18 months as he continues to impress in the Under-23 set-up.
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The attacker enjoyed a strong pre-season last year, including a super strike against Spennymoor Town in a 2-2 draw, before one or two slight injury issues would stifle things.
But the 19-year-old enjoyed a strong end to the season for the young Black Cats and has once again featured for the first team this pre-season.
And Taylor’s exciting potential was what convinced Hartley to negotiate a deal to bring the Hartlepool-born winger to his hometown club.
“I really liked him the other night. I liked his balance. His positivity in one-v-one situations and picking up good positions,” said Hartley.
“He was really intelligent. His final ball was terrific and I've seen it in training over the last couple of days.
“He’s a young player, he’s got energy and wants to do well. He's a Hartlepool fan so we’ll help him. We’re here to work with him and we’ll give him a good platform.
Hartley added: “I said after the game [with Sunderland] ‘I like this kid’ and I think he could improve us and help the team.
“He’s had a good upbringing, so we’re thankful to Sunderland for letting him come and join us and it's up to him to go and prove he’s a really good player because I know he's a good player.
“He’ll make mistakes because he’s young, but as long as he works hard for me you can forgive the mistakes.”
And Hartley put his faith in Taylor from the off by handing the 19-year-old his Pools debut at Walsall for the opening game of the season.
Taylor fits the bill in terms of what Hartley wants from his players with his versatility and work ethic and, despite a 4-0 defeat at Walsall being an afternoon to forget for Pools, Taylor’s affiliation for the club is sure to stand him in good stead for the coming season.
“He’s a big Hartlepool fan. I think that always helps,” said Hartley.
“He knows what the club is about. He knows the demands that are being put on the players by the fans so I think he’ll do well for us.”
And Taylor could get the opportunity to fulfil a dream this weekend as Pools return to the Suit Direct Stadium for their first league game at home this season.
Taylor has watched Pools since he was a boy of five-years-old and may well get the opportunity to represent his club in front of his hometown in the blue and white shirt as Pools host AFC Wimbledon.