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Phil Brown would have been wrong for Hartlepool

John Hughes appointed instead

icon philbrown215 November ~ On Tuesday reputable news agencies were reporting Phil Brown's appointment as Hartlepool manager as a done deal. Only official confirmation of the new chief was missing and that was anticipated with excitement. Nobody seemed worried about his cringe-inducing on-pitch rants, dubious suicide rescues or freakishly orange hue anymore, Brown was very firmly the fans' choice. So the announcement that the job was going to Livingston's John Hughes a couple of hours later came as a bit of a surprise.

Some of us responded by searching the internet for answers to the question: "John Who?" but a lot more stormed onto their digital soapboxes to denounce the owners, players and backroom staff of the club. There was even talk of boycotting Saturday's home match with Coventry due to the club's inability to give us the man we wanted and, most crucially of all, who wanted us.

The fans' desperation to welcome a former full-back who appears to have massive ego problems, and certainly has a questionable record since leaving Hull, can't be explained by looking at Brown's achievements. He did very well keeping Hull in the Championship and then pushing on to the Premier League but then made a fool of himself during their relegation season. His attempt to work the magic again at Preston was an abysmal failure.

The wave of love for the potential messiah grew from our own low self-esteem. A slump in home form last winter had seen the well-liked Mick Wadsworth shown the door so we could rekindle our affair with Neale Cooper. It didn't work out and Cooper did the decent thing by resigning before it turned nasty. When Brown started giving us the glad eye we were six points adrift at the bottom, nine behind the clubs we'd need to catch to survive and humiliated in the FA Cup by a Chesterfield side that could have got more than the six they settled for. People were arguing over whether we'd finish the season with an all-time low points total, if we'd break the club record for most matches without a win and whether this was one of our worst ever sides. The most popular answers were "yes", "yes" and "time will tell but probably not if you remember the 1980s".

Then along came Brown speaking on Sky, saying he was proud to have been interviewed and keen to try to save us. Happy to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in, champing at the bit to manage again and, as a north-east lad, happy to do it at Hartlepool. Suddenly a man who had never looked our type seemed perfect. Brown would bring in Brian Horton, meaning the old boys network rumoured to run things behind the scenes would be done for. Premier League Brown would have no respect for the modest achievements of the senior pros who coast along, apparently guaranteed a starting place no matter what, and would tear into them. As for the players who just aren't good enough, Brown's top-tier contact book would soon secure a raft of quality loanees to sort that out.

The only problem was that the deal hadn't been done. There have been suggestions that the 11th hour breakdown was caused by a mystery contract clause but maybe it was Brown's decision to go public about the job before he got it that did for him. The uncharitable might think that he was trying to mobilise support among the desperate fans so he could force the club's hand during final discussions; give me what I want or you'll have to deal with that lot. It's an appealing thought that the club's owners, who pride themselves on discretion learned in the oil industry, called his bluff.

I doubt we'll ever know exactly what went on. We'll just have to adjust to feeling a bit seedy when we think about how ready we were to hop into bed with Phil Brown. Only a day later it is starting to feel like we had a lucky escape, he's far too flash and would only have used us as a stepping stone anyway. Apparently John "Yogi" Hughes is a fearsome disciplinarian, highly competent coach and a well-balanced bloke who favours developing youngsters and playing a passing game. Just the right type for a long-term relationship. Ed Parkinson

On the subject...

Comment on 15-11-2012 13:58:22 by stenic #732542
as a Preston fan all i can say is that Hartlepool fans should be very thankful Phil Brown was never given their managers job. Defensively he was clueless, the fact Neil Mellor, Iain Hume, et al out scored many of the opposition teams at the start of last season saved his job for a couple of months. he signed (all be it some only on loan) some of the worst players to ever play in a Preston North End shirt, 1 of whom Ian Ashbee was reportedly on somewhere between £18k-£24k a week (although Maurice Lindsay can be blamed for giving him such a contract, it was still Brown who insisted on signing him) anyways good luck to Hartlepool, apart from obviously january 1st, any manager other than Brown was the right choice.
Comment on 17-11-2012 21:07:22 by Bishopville Red #733201
Really, the only club that would be right for the likes of Phil Brown is one where the chairman has relegated himself to "Public Enemy #1" status, has no intention of leaving, and needs someone else for the fans to hate even more.
Comment on 19-11-2012 10:26:39 by poolieinherts #733481
Ed, as a fellow Poolie it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to say this but I hope you're feeling suitably sheepish about writing this article after the performance at the weekend. I don't think the issue is with John Hughes as such, personally I wish the guy all the best because he's sure as hell going to need it, it's our board's seeming inability to make the necessary degree of change where it's desperately needed among the coaching staff. Both Micky Barron and Ritchie Humphreys were great players for the club and loyal servants but neither are cut out for management - the fact that the players wanted to play for them so much that they shipped six goals against a Division 4 side says everything. And that's the problem in my eyes - Brown would have at least brought his own team in and cleared the no-hopers out. Would it have worked? Who knows but surely it couldn't have been any worse than the garbage we're currently putting up with. Bringing in a new number one and keeping the same team behind him just makes Hughes look like a yes-man who was happy to go along with the chairman's wishes instead of standing up for himself - we might as well have appointed H'Angus as our manager for all the difference it's likely to make. As for the current team being the worst ever, I'll just say this - I've seen some pretty poor sides during my time supporting Pools under managers like Mick Tait, Keith Houchen, John MacPhail, Viv Busby and Bobby Moncur. But while those sides were far less skillful than our current crop of no-hopers, you could at least rely on them to try as hard as their admittedly very limited ability would allow which is more than you can say for the current crop of worthless parasites at this club. The big mistake Ken Hodcroft's making is sticking rigidly to his "watch the pennies" policy which I'll be the first to admit has served us very well over the past decade or so, despite the fact that it's plainly obvious that it's now doing the club far more harm than good. Yes, we know that Pools will never be able to compete financially with the big sharks in this pond like Sheff U, MK Dons et al but a little bit of investment for the sake of at least making this club vaguely competitive (the phrase "you've got to speculate to accumulate" springs to mind) wouldn't go amiss and getting Phil Brown in and allowing him to bring a new coaching team to clear out the deadweights would at least have been a good first step to show our board aren't completely blinkered to the club's plight. Alas, 'twas not to be and I fear that now we'll have no option but to rebuild in our "spiritual home".
Comment on 19-11-2012 10:28:17 by Gangster Octopus #733482
Paragraphs are your friend.
Comment on 03-12-2012 12:12:59 by Diable Rouge #737879
Now reportedly in talks to take over at Limerick FC - you do wonder why the Irish mentality always assumes that English management equals guaranteed quality.

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