‘I am lost for words’ – Jeff Stelling rages as Hartlepool baffle fans with Kevin Phillips decision

Hartlepool United’s most famous fan Jeff Stelling has fumed at the club’s decision to replace Premier League legend Kevin Phillips as manager.

The former Sunderland striker has only been in the job for three months, but in that time managed to lift Pools from the mire and guided the club to safety from relegation from the National League.

Phillips was hired when a run of one win in seven games plunged Hartlepool into danger, but he masterminded a comeback with a five-game unbeaten run following his appointment with four wins and a draw.

It didn’t all go the Stadium of Light goalmachine’s way, with Phillips describing the 7-1 defeat to local rivals Gateshead in March as one of the worst days of his life.

But the team recovered with surprise wins over Halifax and Aldershot which meant they had beaten the drop, going from 16th when he was appointed on a short-term deal to 12th place after seven wins in 16 games in charge.

Despite his success in the dugout, though, Hartlepool announced on Friday evening that Phillips had left his post at the end of his contract.

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Supporters were shocked, confused, with the club later announcing former Stevenage, Yeovil and Woking boss Darren Sarll as his replacement on Saturday morning.

And none more so than Stelling, who said the unbelievable news left him ‘depressed’ and that his ‘summer was ruined’.

Reacting to the news on Friday, the talkSPORT Breakfast host wrote on X: “I think we need to hear what has happened – KP may have got a blinding offer from another club.

“I know none of us think that is the case but I guess we have to wait to hear. Depressed regardless!

 “KP has been a breath of fresh air at our football club. I am gutted. Summer ruined.”

On Saturday morning the club confirmed they had decided to appoint Sarll, rather than stick with Phillips, due to his experience in the National League.

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Stelling responded: “So now we know. Not KP decision to leave at all. I am lost for words.”

He also posted: “I feel like the bloke in ‘Love Actually’ who walks away from Keira Knightley saying ‘enough, enough now’.”

Hartlepool chairman Raj Singh explained the decision in a statement, saying: “Kevin has done a good job this season since coming in as head coach and he’s been great to work with. His remit upon appointment was firstly to make sure that the club retained its current league status and then from there to start looking up towards play-off positions.

“We had a difficult backdrop and precarious league position when the previous manager departed. We believed that Kevin was the right appointment to navigate through things and in the end he has helped comfortably ensure that the club stay away from any relegation concerns, which at one point were lingering.”

On the call to hire Sarll, club director Andy Steel pointed to the 41-year-old’s experience at National League level, having overseen over 300 games as manager.

Steel added: “He [Sarll] presented a very clear and compelling view of how he wants to build the squad, deliver a positive style of football that statistically supports success in this league and create a winning mentality and culture.”

SOURCE: Football News, Transfers, Opinion – talkSPORT   (go to source)
AUTHOR: Joe Moore
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