ALMOST two weeks into the job as caretaker manager at Hartlepool United and Antony Sweeney finally had some time to himself.

Put his feet up, cup of tea. Cut the grass for the last time before winter perhaps? Catch up on stuff he’s missed on TV? Maybe a stroll along the sea front to clear his head?

Instead, the management bug took hold: Sweeney put a DVD on to watch today’s opponents Barnet.

The life of a football manager…

“The lads were off Wednesday, those who played Saturday were and the others were preparing for the Durham Challenge Cup game. Technically I had the morning off and then spent two hours watching the Barnet game, stopping it, rewinding, watching parts back… it’s busy and hectic but also enjoyable at the same time,’’ he smiled.

Today is Sweeney’s third game in charge of Pools. Two wins from two and it’s been positive so far. But there’s plenty of room for improvement despite those results. Barnet will present a stiff test today.

The club’s hierarchy is in the thick of the process of appointing a permanent manager. Sweeney is happy to learn and enjoy the experience of managing- for however long it lasts.

“It’s totally different and something a lot of people would love to be in,’’ he said. “To be, basically, doing the manager’s job without the full-time pressure the job brings is invaluable.

“I’ve learned loads in two weeks, a no-lose situation.

“I had a couple of moments against Brackley last week when I was feeling some sort of pressure, but it’s never going to go swimmingly all the time is it?

“It will go against me, a decision I make, a performance, result, whatever is it, but that happens in this game. It’s how you deal with those ups and downs and I hope the pressure doesn’t come to me just yet and we can carry on with positive results.

“I think whatever happens in the future, whatever decision is made then it becomes a time to look at it and reflect and think it has been enjoyable. While you are living it, it’s hectic and all around.’’

He added: “I’ve spoke to people briefly, friends and former players. But I’ve got to say it’s all been positive, texts, calls, even being negative in saying last week wasn’t great in terms of performance people have been positive with me. I’ve got a good support network around me and you need that. I can see why it’s a lonely place being manager of a football club at times.’’

The club’s chief executive Mark Maguire is leading the process and the two victories since Craig Hignett left has gave the club time and space to make their decision.

Sweeney has been kept informed of developments along the way.

“We have had talks and they will remain private,’’ he said. “The football club has been very good with me. They have kept me in the loop with what their process is and that’s not for me to mention.

“It’s exactly what they said to me when they asked me to take interim charge. No hidden agendas or anything like that. The results have brought the time to explore every avenue and that’s the right way to go about it.

“It’s safe to say that training is what I’m used to, that’s what I want to concentrate on. Everything off the field will sort itself out and my focus is on getting a performance and a result.’’

Barnet sit tenth in the table, just two points in front of Pools. They incluce Scott Loach, the goalkeeper who spent two years with Pools without missing a game before leaving at the end of last season.

“They are a good side and energetic and we have to match that intensity and go above and beyond what they do,’’ said Sweeney.

“Our football club will be judged on what happens in the league more than anything else. FA Cup, Durham Challenge Cup are there, but it’s about the league.

“Negative outlook and we aren’t too far away from the bottom. But if you are positive then we are only a few points of the areas in the table we believe we should be.

“Barnet are similar to us in being a decent footballing side and a bit inconsistent with mixed results. They will pose a threat and we have to accept and understand that.

“We have times in games when it’s backs to the wall, but we have to put our stamp on games. We haven’t done that enough the last two games, but we came away with two wins.

“Is a 90 minute performance asking too much? I want us to excite a bit more and put on the pressure in the attacking third of the pitch, rather than being more conscious of being exposed.

“We have some good defenders in the squad and if we have to go one-on-one then so be it, but we can’t be gung-ho.’’