Hartlepool FanZoner Graeme Smith says Mick Wadsworth paid for the club's poor home record.
Wadsworth shown the door
So, owners IOR have decided to "relieve Mick Wadsworth of his duties as Head Coach with immediate effect". You have to feel some sympathy for him, a reluctant incumbent in the top job in the first place.
Brought in initially to work alongside "Director of Sport" Chris Turner (Pools actually haven't had anyone designated as "Manager" since Danny Wilson left in December 2008) he was left holding the baby with Turner's departure in the early stages of the 2010/11 campaign.
You have to look back on his time at Pools as a period of improvement. The football under Turner's leadership had become stilted and very predictable, the entertainment value was virtually nil. Wadsworth shaped the squad into a decent League 1 unit on a tight budget, and improved the fare for the viewer too.
Last season Pools never really seriously flirted with relegation, which has to be seen as an achievement, given he was left with some abject dead wood in the squad. Goals were hard to come by, but we were fairly solid defensively & a match for many teams.
Some wise summer pruning and a couple of additions and Pools were ready to go. A record-breaking unbeaten start to a season ensued and even battle-scarred world-weary Poolies like me were starting to dare to dream of better things. Of course I should have known better.
Bad things invariably follow good for us. Much as in 1993, when a high league position and a famous 3rd round FA Cup win over Premier League opposition was immediately followed by no goal scored for a British record breaking 1,224 minutes (January 2nd to March 6th, stat fans).
So, a club-record-breaking 7 consecutive home defeats later, Mick has found himself clutching his P45. He was unlucky in some ways, his signing of Colin Nish hasn't worked out, he isn't the type of blood and guts player that Poolies demand and expect, given his build and the fact he was signed as a target man, and our other strikers are still finding goals hard to come by, much as last season.
In those 7 home defeats, only 1 goal has been scored, and that was a meaningless penalty in the dying minutes against Wycombe, when we were already 3 down. The next time Pools grace the Vic on the 17th December, it will be exactly 3 months since they last scored a goal from open play at home.
Pools record is very strange too. If our away record (W5, D3 L1) was switched with our home record (W2 D2 L6), maybe there wouldn't be too much dissent amongst the ranks, given we lie 13th in the table with 26 points, 5 points off a play-off place & 10 from relegation. The team just looks to be very fragile in terms of confidence at home, and as soon as they go a goal down you can almost see that confidence drain away.
In a season where the much-vaunted £100 season-ticket offer was designed to bring back the fans, it was telling to note that the last home attendance (0-1 v Preston) was around the 4000 mark, not the 5000+ who had previously been turning up.
The commercial element is possibly the deciding factor in this case, since the club made great play on being able to attract more sponsors with more bums on seats as part of the rationale behind the offer, so the team's homesickness could be cited as the reason for the change.
I thank you for the job you've done Mick, you certainly improved us in your time in charge, but I'm not surprised that IOR have taken this decision.
The King is dead, long live the King, so the mantra goes. Who next for Pools?
Personally, I'd love to see Sean O'Driscoll in the manager's role. He did a brilliant job at Bournemouth and Doncaster on limited budgets and his teams play good football. Mark Robins could fit the bill too.
Don't be at all surprised if the owners pull someone in who counts as a bit of a surprise though, Chris Turner, Mike Newell and Neale Cooper were all "left-field" appointments at the time and IOR don't exactly follow standard "football merry-go-round" procedures when appointing managers.
Whatever happens, let's hope they actually appoint a manager this time, that they do it soon enough to see if the new man can sniff out a couple of bargains in January and that Pools can consolidate their league 1 mid-table status, because if we're honest, I suspect most Poolies are currently looking down the table rather than up.
It's going to be an interesting few weeks either way...