Who will Hartlepool United turn to as their next manager? A look at the four favourites including former Manchester City coach and ex-Sunderland midfielder
Hartlepool United’s managerial search has had its fair share of twists and turns so far – but who will the club turn to next?
Reports from various outlets suggested Pools had found their man in Bromley boss Andy Woodman.
But Pools told BBC Radio Tees Sport in no uncertain terms that Woodman would not be the next manager and that no approach had been made for his services.
Despite this, Woodman remained the bookmakers favourite at 1/20 which has since drifted to 1/2 as of Saturday morning.
The odds don’t always give a clear picture as Pools’ managerial search appears to be very much an ongoing process.
There has been plenty of interest in the role but where will the club go from here?
Here we look at some of the bookmakers favourites (Woodman aside) as it stands and look at what they could bring to the table…
Current club: Hartlepool
Former clubs: Gateshead, Carlisle, Hartlepool
SkyBet odds: 5/1
A man who needs no introduction to Pools fans and the current person in the managerial hot seat, albeit on a temporary basis.
Sweeney is held in the highest regard at Pools having made 444 appearances for the club as a player.
He rejoined Hartlepool as a coach back in 2016, working with the club’s youth development programme. In 2019 he became a first team coach at the club and was appointed caretaker manager following Craig Hignett’s sacking later that year.
Sweeney’s impressive spell as caretaker had him under consideration to become the next permanent manager but the opportunity to appoint Dave Challinor proved too good to miss.
Sweeney remained a coach under Challinor’s management and has took the interim reins once again following his departure.
The Hartlepool legend has changed very little in Challinor’s absence, adopting an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it’ approach.
"I’d be a hypocrite if I changed everything after being part of a coaching team for the past two years and having my voice heard,” Sweeney admitted.
Whether Sweeney wants the job permanently is another question as he’s consistently played it down when quizzed on the matter. But no one can doubt his loyalty and commitment to Pools.
Regardless of what happens, keeping him involved at the club is essential.
Current club: Spennymoor
Former clubs: Halifax, Hartlepool, Bury, Swindon, Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich, Preston, Sunderland
SkyBet odds: 9/2
The bookies have Spennymoor boss Tommy Miller viewed as a potential replacement for Challinor.
A Hartlepool fan favourite having made 178 appearances for the club over two spells, scoring 44 goals, Miller is no stranger to the pressures and expectations at Victoria Park.
The fact he’s based locally will also make a return to his former club as manager an attractive proposition.
Miller’s experience as a manager has been limited to his time at Spennymoor in the National League North. After initially taking caretaker charge following long-term manager Jason Ainsley stepping down, Miller was handed the job permanently in April 2021.
Spennymoor lost four consecutive matches ahead of Saturday’s match against Bradford Park Avenue but still find themselves at the right end of the sixth tier table.
Although they never played together, the thought of Miller working alongside Sweeney may evoke nostalgic memories for Pools fans. But there would be some risk involved as to how a relatively inexperienced managerial team would deal with managing full-time in the EFL.
Still, a young and ambitious manager with a point to prove and a connection to the club certainly ticks some boxes at least.
Current club: FC Halifax Town
Former clubs: Oldham
SkyBet odds: 10/1
Halifax boss Pete Wild falls into a similar mould as Woodman given his impressive record in the National League on a modest budget.
Wild is a rarity in the modern professional game in the fact his entire career in football has been based around coaching opposed to playing.
At just 18, Wild took up coaching and joined his boyhood club Oldham Athletic where he rose through the ranks over 10-years before becoming head of the club’s academy.
He was appointed as Oldham’s caretaker manager following Frankie Bunn’s sacking in December 2018 and went on to win four of his eight games in temporary charge, including a famous 2-1 win over Premier League Fulham in the FA Cup third round.
Wild left the club in 2019 and was appointed as permanent manager at Halifax Town. In his first season in charge, he led The Shaymen to the National League play-offs and almost repeated the feat last season only to fall short on the final day.
He has lifted the club from a potential relegation threatened side to a genuine contender in the fifth tier through hard work and determination. An attractive style of football, not too dissimilar from Pools’, has also helped.
Current club: Birmingham City
Former clubs: Manchester City, Barnsley, North Ferriby, York, Darlington, Chesterfield, Port Vale, Macclesfield, Northampton, Halifax, Scunthorpe, Grimsby
SkyBet odds: 18/1
Harsley has come out of nowhere to become one of the favourites according to SkyBet.
The 43-year-old has plenty of connections from working at the very top.
He spent two years with Manchester City’s Elite Development squad as they finished eighth and ninth in the Premier League 2 under his management.
Harsley is currently Birmingham City’s first team development coach and has previous experience as caretaker at Barnsley.
The former midfielder locked horns with Pools several times during his playing career while at Scunthorpe, Halifax, Macclesfield and Port Vale. He has been on the winning side in each of the seven encounters he’s had with Hartlepool.
Of the four names mentioned, Harsley seems to be the biggest risk given that he hasn’t had a permanent managerial role in senior football before.
But there is sure to be a few more twists and turns for Pools as the search continues.