MATTHEW BATES praised the calming influence of assistant manager Ged McNamee at Hartlepool United.

Caretaker boss Bates asked his former schoolboy coach McNamee to assist him when he was left alone in charge of Pools last season.

When he was appointed boss permanently, Bates was quick to ensure McNamee was installed alongside him.

There’s a long understanding and respect between the pair and Bates feels he is learning all the time from the former Sunderland Academy chief.

Bates admitted: “Ged has been brilliant for me. He’s very experienced, ideal for me. He is very a relaxed character – people may think I am, but I’m not in the dressing room and on the sidelines.

“He is good for me, been in dressing rooms for well over 20 years now and he’s seen it all and done it. He’s spent a lot of time at Academy level at Sunderland, but he has stepped up to the first-team when needed.

“Everyone loves him, if he’s having a go at someone they still respect him. He’s not an old-school coach, he is very up to date and modern in his methods. He wants his players to be playing football, using the ball. He is old, old school if you like – not the shouting and screaming, more of the getting the ball out and playing games.

“I think you can see Liam Noble is the same, wants to get out there playing football all the time and that’s from his grounding with Ged at Sunderland.’’

McNamee, 58, and Bates, along with goalkeeping coach Ross Turnbull have formed a quick and effective partnership together. Pools have lost only once in 11 games this season and have genuine aspirations of getting into the promotion and play-off places come the end of the campaign.

McNamee played four times for Pools, three in 1980 and once three years later. He made his mark at Sunderland’s Academy, which he headed up for a number of years. He spent almost 20 years at the club, before leaving in 2016.

Among the players who came through under his leadership were Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford – as well as current Pools players Louis Laing and Liam Noble.

Bates added: “He is laid back, knows his stuff and knows what makes people tick. He helps me along with training, sessions and planning and his knowledge is there for me to tap into.

“Around the place, around the dressing room, he is a calming influence on the lads and myself.

“His track record at Sunderland is very good. Look at the players he helped bring through. He speaks to players well, he knows how to manage people and footballers at all levels and age group.

“He demands respect from how he behaves and how he is as a fella. His mannerisms and how he conducts himself in training and on matchdays is something I’ve learned a lot from and the players as well.’’

Bates and McNamee go back a long way, to when the coach was working under Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson at the Manchester United School of Excellence in Durham, where Bates was a young hopeful.

McNamee followed Robson to Sunderland, but Bates moved to another North-East club at the time.

“I first came across him when I was starting secondary school, he was at Manchester United’s School of Excellence in Durham, but then I moved to Middlesbrough and he then tried to sign me for Sunderland,’’ recalled Bates.

“I was at Man United for a few years as a schoolboy and was doing well there and this was the North-East centre of excellence and I used to go down to the training ground in the summer holidays at The Cliff. But I had injury problems with my toes, then they said my running gait was wrong and they released me. I ended up at Boro and it went from there.’’