What next for Hartlepool United after Graeme Lee dismissal ahead of massive summer

Irrespective of which side of the fence you find yourself on with regards to Graeme Lee’s dismissal, Hartlepool United’s next move is crucial.

By Joe Ramage
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 8:00 am

It’s commonplace to make such statements after a club parts company with a manager but for Pools there really is a huge significance upon who comes in to replace the outgoing Lee.

Lee’s sacking means chairman Raj Singh is looking for a third manager in little over six months but just what is the goal for Pools?

Singh suggested in Lee’s exit statement: “We remain ambitious as a club to continue our progress with promotion to League One being our target,” but the impact of what may be to come for Pools over the summer seems to place that target quite some distance away.

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Hartlepool United look set for a busy summer. Picture by Martin Swinney

If Singh is committed to seeing Pools challenge for a place back in League One then the discussion might be better placed as to why Dave Challinor is not still at the Suit Direct Stadium and why he opted for a move back down to the National League with Stockport County.

Challinor’s time with Pools was an incredible success in that he elevated them back into the Football League and made an encouraging start following a short turnaround in the summer before he called time on his spell.

While there were reservations about Lee’s appointment, he was able to use some of that previous momentum in a way as he took over the reins in December to steer Pools to safety with two enjoyable cup runs to boot.

But if League One is the focus for Pools then survival in League Two at the first attempt has to be considered the first step on that ladder, which in turn can then raise questions as to why Lee no longer finds himself in a job having achieved such an objective?

Hartlepool United parted company with Graeme Lee ahead of this afternoon's game with Colchester United. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

The form has been a concern.

Players out of contract are a bigger concern and whoever is tasked with the next step on the road to League One is going to have just as sizable a task as Lee had on his hands but even less time to do it in as he integrates his new philosophies.

Either way, it was shaping up to be a critical summer for Pools who are perhaps teetering on the precipice with one side looking up and the other looking back down.

Losing players such as Luke Molyneux and Timi Odusina in the summer will nudge Pools towards the latter which means recruitment was always going to be important.

Lee had just one transfer window, a January window at that, to try and point Pools in the right direction with five of the seven signings made being initial loan deals. You can’t help but feel the new manager coming in will need more than that.

It seems strange given that we are at the end of Pools’ first season back in the Football League and they are some 17 points above the relegation zone heading into today’s final game of the season and we are dissecting what could potentially be another turbulent summer for the club.

This afternoon was meant to be a celebration of what has happened this season before a well deserved break.

Instead, there is an err of uncertainty at what's to come next.