WHEN Gary Neville gave a hint of the responsibility within the Manchester United dressing room, John Hughes took notice.
Speaking on Sky Sports on Monday, the former Old Trafford defender was blunt in his assessment of United’s goalkeeping frailties during their 1-1 draw with Tottenham.
He spoke of the responsibility the players have to carry – which is just what Hughes is demanding from his squad.
Pools set off this morning for tomorrow’s game at Portsmouth, with Hughes, after seeing his side lose at Victoria Park to Bournemouth on Tuesday, admitting: “I’m getting frustrated in that we put so much into the game and cannot keep a clean sheet and give away penalties. It’s one thing after another.
“I want people to demand, encourage off each other.
Gary Neville the other night was talking of the dressing room at Manchester United and he said it’s unforgiving. It has to be.
“You have to be responsible, do the job you are supposed to do. We won at Sheffield United, we patted each other on the back, said well done, I’m glad to be in the same team as you – that’s the spirit we need.
“We have to have that to win games. I’ve seen evidence, but we need to win games to stay up.’’ Hughes has long spoken of wanting his charges to lead by inspiration, hoping a level of performance will lift any struggling individuals.
Nine games down the line he has yet to have anyone stand up on a regular basis to lift his team-mates.
“We have to take inspiration and I look at the dressing room, can someone go and score the goals, do we have leaders?’’ he asked.
“I was watching a Denis Law interview the other day, he was talking about Scotland, it never takes him long to do that, and he had Billy Bremner and Dave Mackay with him in the team – managers, coaches on the pitch who would lead and grab you by the scruff of the neck.
“I want that, I want leaders of men. I don’t want anyone resigned to the fact that what will be will be.
“We have enough games to come – it’s an 18-game league now, let’s finish top. You have to have a great belief and trust, you cannot feel sorry for yourself.
“If you are feeling sorry for yourself, don’t get on the team bus, don’t put the strip on, don’t bother or you will let your team-mates down.
“It might suit us to be playing away from home, we need that mental mindset to have a right go, not just on Saturday, but to stay in the fight.’’ Pools will be without Steve Howard, Antony Sweeney and Jordan Richards tomorrow.
“Stevie has a hamstring scan, it’s a month to six weeks, but we hope it’s only cramp and tightness,’’ said Hughes.
“Sweens has a twisted knee, we hope he can do some light running.
“We are down in numbers and hope to get one or two in for the weekend. We train on a good facility here on the 3G pitch and no matter who plays, we are more than capable of going there and winning.
“That has to be the case.’’