IT wouldn’t be Hartlepool United without a change of manager during a season. They managed to go through three permanent bosses last season; even by Pools’ prolific standards that was some going.

This campaign it seems, under the control of their second chief (third if you include the impressive caretaker stint of Antony Sweeney) appear to have finally got it right.

Each time Pools appoint a boss there’s a usual formula to follow.

Introduction, where it’s all positive and a brave new dawn. The middle bit, where the boss tries to put his stamp on things. The end, where it’s all gone wrong and the process starts again.

And again.

This time, however, they may just have finally got it right.

Craig Hignett was replaced by Dave Challinor. The impact he’s had on the team and the club cannot be underestimated.

There’s a feeling around the town and amongst supporters that they’ve not had for a long time; a genuine belief that things have turned around and success is within sight.

It was all about timing with the appointment.

Challinor, after 379 games in charge of Fylde, left the club he twice took to Wembley last season.

Hignett, after a short playing spell, a coaching stint, a time as director of football and two managerial spells, had his time at the club ended. His friendship with chairman and owner Raj Singh became instantly frayed.

The pair go back a long way and Hignett deserves time and respect for the role he played behind the scenes in enticing Singh to the club during the most traumatic of times.

Pools needed stability, business sense and leadership and Singh has brought it.

Hignett knew that in moving from director of football to manager meant he was always under threat.

Singh did consider dumping him at the back end of last season, an insipid Easter Monday defeat at Barrow saw him saved by a promising final day of the season win over Salford City.

He was allowed to make changes to the squad, while placed under some financial constraints.

The biggest call was to allow Scott Loach to move on. Ever-present in two seasons at the club, Loach arrived at a time when players were signed on well-paid contracts, deals which were thrown around irresponsibly and that the club couldn’t really afford.

Unable to agree new terms, Loach left to be replaced by Ben Killip.

Hignett, and goalkeeper coach Ross Turnbull, were swopping experience and a level of reliability with potential.

The form of England C goalkeeper Killip has remained unconvincing and it would be no surprise to see a new No1 brought in over the summer.

Signing Luke Molyneux permanently was some coup for Pools. Big things were expected of the former Sunderland man who impressed during the second half of last season on loan.

But an ankle injury in pre-season meant Hignett never got to use him and the flair and natural ability the attacker offers has been missed until his recent return.

There was plenty of promise in Hignett’s team, but would Pools be in a position of such optimism now if the manager stayed in place?

There was a swift upturn in outlook and performances under Sweeney. Normally, when a manager comes in, he’s picking up a team which is downbeat and out of sorts, a dressing room in pieces.

He didn’t have that to contend with. Hignett wasn’t really under any pressure. The basics were there, they just needed a lift.

That may sound strange given the chirpiness and positivity of Hignett – maybe at times he was too honest, but that’s not a bad thing – but Sweeney seemed to get them more organised straight away.

At the time, Sweeney said: “I’ve been a player here when a manager has left. I understand what they need and want.

“We haven’t changed a lot, a lot of the stuff Craig and Ged (McNamee) did – I was part of. So that would be a bit hypocritical to change things too much.’’

He didn’t change a lot, won three of his five games, and handed over to Challinor.

The experience will have been of good benefit to both him and Pools in the long-term. There was a lot of people wanting Sweeney to be appointed permanently, but would that have been the right call at the time?

Caretaker managers often engineer a quick improvement. Sustaining it for the longer term is more of an ask.

At the time he reflected: “I hope I’ve made a positive impact. It’s a club which has had some challenges and it doesn’t matter if you are in charge for one game, five games, one hundred or more but as an influential figure at the club if you leave the club in a better position than when you started then you have done a decent job and I would like to think I have done that.’’

He certainly did; however Challinor was the ideal candidate. To succeed in this division you need someone who knows it, who understands it and gets it.

Hignett’s playing career and background would see him ideally suited to a bigger club and better players than he would encounter at Victoria Park. It was often a source of frustration that they weren’t consistent enough, or at times good enough, to carry out his plans.

Challinor had done eight years at Fylde. Last season, one Pools boss didn’t even last eight weeks.

Stability has not been on agenda at Pools.

“Football League clubs drop down and not many get it right in this division,’’ he said on appointment. “They come down, the majority, in turmoil on and off the pitch. You need strong people in charge not to panic.’’

That Pools have seen off five managers in three seasons while in the National League says it all about panic and turmoil.

Challinor has a focus and determination about his persona. He knows what he wants and he is getting it from his squad.

The players are fitter than before. For too long they have been outran and outfought by standard National League teams, not any more. They are playing with an intensity and a willingness to put the extra yards in.

His record in the transfer market should be noted. The temporary signings of Gary Liddle, Tim Odusina, Macauley Southam-Hailes and Mark Shelton have been especially impressive. Tellingly, loans have not been wasted.

Pools sit during the current hiatus outside the play-off zone. Their last two results, a frustrating home defeat to an irascible Ebbsfleet and a draw at Sutton, have pegged them back after the promise from a win at Solihull.

That Ebbsfleet game was a messy affair, with potential fall-out still to come. The Victoria Park crowd were accused of making racist comments. One of the allegations by Jermaine McGlashan has been met with a firm rejection by all concerned within Victoria Park.

Pools this week submitted over 70 letters and statements from supporters and those inside Victoria Park that stoutly denied any suggestion of racist tones. Statements from the visiting physio and assistant referee were of the same nature.

The club earned praise for the way they dealt with racist calls made at the game with Dover in September. Everyone learned from events that day. The club and crowd genuinely proved they had against Ebbsfleet.