Pools boss Craig Harrison gives us the inside take on Friday’s four transfer deals and updates us on the work still going on behind the scenes.
What a fantastic Friday!
I think it has been easy to look at it and start to get anxious we hadn’t signed anybody and I understand the fans’ point of view on how frustrating it has been but I have only been in the job two weeks!
I want to progress and I watch a lot of games and when I am watching them, I make a lot of notes along the lines of “if I got an opportunity here or there, I would take that player or this player”. I have a lot of notes with details of players and when I got an opportunity two weeks ago to become the proud Manager of Hartlepool United the wheels started to turn straight away. I have been constantly on the phone to agents and to players – I must have about 50 agents’ phone numbers. All the people who ring me are either agents or football players – my poor wife has not got a look in, though she might be happy with that!!
I have covered a lot of miles in the past two weeks, I counted them up the other day and I must have travelled around nearly 2,000 miles so far, going to meet up with players and with agents, travelling up from my current base in Chester.
When you bring players in and all of the work comes to fruition, it makes it all worth it and today has been a very good day. We have brought some good players in; it isn’t just a case of bringing anyone in, we have picked players who can complement the squad in different areas of the pitch.
Individual players will win you nothing, they might have flashes of brilliance but they have to play in a system or a formation. We have to be a well-oiled machine to make the whole a lot better than just individuals. We have brought in a range of skills and positions but that’s key more than anything, it is not about who is available, it is the best players for our combination and position.
Jake Cassidy was the first one across the line on Friday morning and he’s a player I worked with before. It was short and sweet but it was fantastic for a young lad of 17/18 years old in the third tier of football to move to Airbus. He was only there for a month and a half and played a few games in pre-season, he didn’t even play a competitive game. We had some quite high-profile friendlies with Wrexham and Everton and he played really well in them and caught the eye of Wolves.
I remember being sat in Wolves’ training ground and I had eight Premier League clubs ringing me wanting Jake but he’d made his mind up about Wolves. He played in a Reserve Team game for them and within the first ten minutes he’d smashed in to someone turned and fired a shot into the top corner and Jez Moxey came up and wanted to sign him there and then - at half time!
Jake’s had a few ups and downs since, but he scored a lot of goals at Tranmere Rovers and I believe former Hartlepool boss Ronnie Moore who has at Tranmere then speaks very highly of him. Every manager Jake has been under will do the same, you know what you get from him. He had a little bit of a tough time with injury but last season he played for a few months at Guiseley and that gave him his confidence back. He got eight goals and played a huge part in keeping Guiseley in the league. I just think he really enjoyed those months and when I came in here, he was always someone I was going to go full pelt to get in. We know each other and have a good understanding and have a good personal relationship too.
Next through the door was Luke George. Obviously with me being in the Chester area, I have seen a lot of Wrexham and Chester National League games and Luke was one who was always combative, very aggressive and puts his foot in. He closes teams down and does the side of the game that modern football forgets about but I think it is very important with the balance of the team and he caught my eye.
Historically, I am all about wanting to play football but you do need two or three of those kinds of players in your team. And the great thing is, his enthusiasm to do that. If you channel that in the right direction, with discipline then it is so key overall. You need players who will roll up their sleeves and know when we’re in a dog fight, maybe away from home and need that bit of grit, they will roll their sleeves up and grind out the result. That can’t be underestimated.
Jack Munns was next to sign and he’s another one I am excited about. He has that experience of playing in the National League with Cheltenham Town and can play anywhere across the front; as a withdrawn striker, out and out, left wing, right wing, midfield. We don’t want to be too regimental or too rigid going forward – we have to be at the back – but I like to have more fluidity in the final third and the likes of Jack give you that option to play in 3 or 4 positions.
He understands what I’m trying to do, he has come from a good background with Tottenham and he understands the fluidity that I want us to play with.
And then we managed to do the deal for Scott Loach to round things off. I was disappointed to lose Trevor Carson, we all were and have gone on record to show that we did everything we could to keep him here. However, it was important we got a replacement in of equal quality and Scott is without doubt that.
He comes with a lot of experience and has played at all different levels – he has experience of playing for York City in the National League last season, he has a big presence as he is 6’3” and he has all of the attributes we were looking for. He is a fantastic addition to bring into a reasonably young group.
First and foremost each of these lads have to get in the team now. We’ve had a great day today, a great combination of positions but they have to work hard now for the next six weeks to get in the team and it is up to them then to show in training and on a matchday that they deserve to stay in the team.
There’s no rest now though just because we’ve made some breakthroughs. There is always more work to be done, we never stop working. We have things in the pipeline to hopefully work on next week and hopefully next week will be another exciting one with a few more new faces added!
Thanks for your support and have a great weekend.