Vanarama National League Fan Preview

Hartlepool United fans

League sponsors Vanarama have been getting the fans’ perspective ahead of the new season and Pools regular Jack Wheelhouse gives his take on Craig Hignett’s men.

The new season is now upon us – so what have Hartlepool fans got to look forward to?
I think the main thing is that we now have a squad with lots of competition for places – especially in midfield. That is forcing the players to earn their spot. Also the fact that Craig Hignett has brought in an attacking ethos. So, therefore hopefully lots of goals and the stability at the club thanks to Raj Singh and Co!

Confidence is high but confidence was high this time last year, too. So why will 2019-20 be different?
Positivity has been brought about because of the stability we now have at the club. Last season, there is no hiding from the fact that it was a disappointment. But fans are reminded that we very nearly didn’t have a team to go into the season if it wasn’t for the footballing community and Raj Singh coming in to save the club. But secondly, the signings that Craig Hignett has brought in are very positive such as Michael Raynes who is a leader at the back. I think with the ‘consolidation season’ as the club called it is now done everyone is confident that we can now push on and get back into the EFL!

There seems to be strength in depth this year. Could that be crucial?
Certainly strength in depth in the midfield! This can only be beneficial as it will force the players to not drop the high standard set. Also, with the amount of games in the first month especially this could be crucial with potential injuries that may arise.

Craig Hignett seems to have the support from the Pools fans that we haven’t seen for quite a few years. Why are the supporters so sold on their manager?
He certainly has the support of the fan base. I think he has brought in the attitude of no-one is too big for the club. Also, the high standards that he wants from the players. I think thirdly the fact that he has brought this attacking football to the club which has brought us more goals and improved the way we look going forward. He really cares about getting the club back on track.

What’s been the best bit of business done over the past few months?
There have been a few, not sure I could name just one. I think the re-signing of Michael Raynes who had a short stint on loan last season was vital because he’s going to be key at the back for us this season. Also the signings of Jason Kennedy and Luke Molyneux.

Who will be your one to watch coming August 3?
For once, there could be a few to choose from here! But I think I will go with Luke Molyneux. He likes to get forward and get past his man. He will be our danger man.

Who are the other sides to watch out for and could be in the promotion shake-up?
Based on the way they played last season I think Harrogate wouldn’t be a bad shout for being in the promotion mix. AFC Fylde over recent years seem to sneak into the play-offs and you would expect teams like Notts County to be competing. I would also put us up there for in and around the play-off spots!

But who will be the season’s surprise package? 
I’m not sure it would be a huge surprise but Solihull Moors were a strong team last season so I think that they have a chance again.

Where are you most looking forward to visiting over the next ten months?
Stockport County or Notts County for me. Two big stadiums with a lot of history about them. I reckon we will take a good following to those games as well.

And what game would you like to win more than any other? 
Last year I would have said Gateshead for obvious reasons, however I think I would love to take the three points away from Notts County as lots of their supporters are underestimating how difficult it is to get out of this league.

What opposition player would you most like to see in your side – and what makes him so good? 
Danny Rowe from AFC Fylde for me. He always scores against us and he just knows where the goal is and seems to read the game well when I have seen him play.

Finally, the key question – where do you predict your team will finish next season?  
I am going to be positive and confident here, based on signings and the stability now in place, a top seven finish I think for us this year. If we can play the good, attacking football and make sure the defence is tight I think many teams will struggle to deal with us! 

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