IT’S fair to say there’s been better years at Hartlepool United; perhaps the previous 109 of them for starters.

Relegated from the Football League in May, the club has ended the year with its future as uncertain as ever.

Up for sale and out of money, are National League Pools any sort of attractive proposition for prospective new owners?

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If the club, then debt-free and a Football League club when up for sale three years ago, could only attract the likes of TMH (two of the consortium were recently jailed for fraud) and JPNG (the club’s former chairman was recently declared bankrupt), then what sort of people can they hope to entice to buy the club today?

Pools started 2017 under Craig Hignett as a team which was capable of playing nice football, but collapsing under pressure.

They end 2017 under Craig Harrison as a team capable of playing nice football, but collapsing under pressure.

You can change the manager, the players, the backroom staff, the owners, the badge, the name of the ground, the strip and whatever you like, but the basket case that is Hartlepool United continues to bewilder.

Hignett was axed in January, following a typical defeat at Crawley. Pools played neat and tidy football that afternoon, but could still be playing today and wouldn’t have scored.

There was plenty of potential with Hignett’s side, but it remained unfulfilled.

In came Dave Jones. A manager with some pedigree and clout. In a matter of weeks he managed to ruin confidence, decimate the dressing room and alienate anyone and everyone at the club.

When there’s only a handful of staff at a club like Pools, the manager has be to engaging, warm and welcoming. Jones instead wanted to go head on into them all.

He was right in some of what he said. The club was, to a certain extent, happy to trundle along. Underperforming on and off the pitch. It did need a shake-up.

But he went about hard, his way; the wrong way. Confidence and belief in the players was drained out of them by Jones and his cohorts Alex Armstrong and Kevin Cooper. Flair players like Nathan Thomas weren’t allowed to have a say in games, ordered to fit into Jones’ rigid system.

When Jeff Stelling called Jones out on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday, the boss was a dead man walking.

It was, however, too late with just two games to go.

If Pools had kept Sam Collins in charge – remember Jones quickly binned the former skipper and youth coach – then they would have taken more than the 13 points from 51 they collected under Jones. They would still be a Football League club. Probably not a very good one, but at least they wouldn’t have fallen from the trapdoor.

The former chairman walked out days before the biggest game in the club’s history. He was last seen in town collecting his belongings from his rented house. His legacy lives on with the club financially embarrassed.

Just last week the chairman Pam Duxbury talked of “legacy issues” which they are still dealing with. They can thank him for that.

Sage, the club’s owners, want out. There’s hope that new investors can be found and it is understood there’s been a positive response to last week’s announcement.

The club’s support is somewhat fractured with various parties squabbling like kids in a playground, although an on-line virtual playground seems more appropriate.

Under IOR, Pools enjoyed the most stable and successful of years. Yet, towards the end of their reign, some wanted them out for a perceived lack of investment.

As they say… be careful what you wish for.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Carl Magnay – rushed back from injury to get back and try and save Pools last season and, in the main this season, he’s set the standards.

FLOP OF THE YEAR

Dave Jones – the worst appointment ever made at Victoria Park, and by some distance.

GAME OF THE YEAR

Hartlepool United 2 Doncaster Rovers 1, May 6.

GOAL OF THE YEAR

Devante Rodney’s second goal against Doncaster – composure, coolness and a goal which could have made all the difference.

P42 W13 D13 L26 F52 A72

Win Ratio: