Ian McGuckin has urged the Pools players to harness the support of the crowd during the season run-in as they look to steer clear of trouble at the bottom of League Two.
Now part of the coaching set-up in the Club’s Academy, McGuckin has experience of this sort of situation having played his part in plenty of relegation battles during 187 appearances for the Club.
It was twenty years ago this week that the no-nonsense centre-back lined up in a Pools side which won 4-0 to clinch league survival – ironically, against Saturday’s opponents Barnet.
And rather than be worried about any of the pressure that surrounds big games like those on the horizon for Pools in the coming weeks, McGuckin says the players should embrace it.
“It’s quite strange how things work out that we have the same opposition this weekend in a similar kind of position in the league,” McGuckin admitted.
“To be honest, I remember sort of relishing that kind of game, I thrived on it and lots of players did. I loved going away from home where everyone was against you, you’d been written off and people were willing you to get beat – it brought the best out in me.
“Albeit we were battling at the wrong end of the table, I turned that in to a motivation to play well and, to be honest, I can’t remember much of the technical and tactical stuff – it was all about looking around the dressing room and everyone knowing it was us that was going to make it happen.
“Once the players cross the white line, the weight of the club and the supporters is on their shoulders at times like this and our players need to thrive on that this weekend.”
The Club has slashed ticket prices to just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions for this Saturday’s game against Barnet in a bid to ensure as many people as possible can get behind the team.
McGuckin reckons that could be a masterstroke because he thinks the backing the players get from the supporters is as important as anything they do in preparation for the game.
“The fans can be so, so important,” he insisted.
“Everybody who cares about the Club fully appreciates what supporters are going through, how they are feeling and how much it means to them.
“You hear people talk about them being the extra man but I can promise you, it does give the players a life – we’ve seen that in recent seasons here at The Vic.
“When the fans get behind you here and the atmosphere is like it can be, it’s like their sucking the ball in to the net; you can find that extra 10% you need because it drives you on.
“The players are professional sports men and that noise should be their driving force – nothing should even need to be said in the dressing room on Saturday.
“Come ten to three they should just open the dressing room door and hear the supporters – that should be the motivation and nothing more should need saying.
“It might have been 4-0 twenty years ago but I know that the players, the fans and everyone connected with the club – me included – would take a scruffy 1-0er on Saturday!”