THE manager’s office at Victoria Park may have its third different occupant in little over a year, but the philosophy emanating from it remains the same.
Like predecessors Neale Cooper and Mick Wadsworth, John Hughes believes youth holds the answers to Hartlepool United’s future.
The rain which washed out Saturday’s scheduled visit of crisis-laden Portsmouth denied the Teessiders the opportunity of a happier Christmas.
Instead, they travel to Carlisle United’s Brunton Park today still looking for a first win in 21 games.
However, while Pompey have landed in the mire through short-termism, Hartlepool are determined to get out of it with longer-term planning.
It is why Colin Nish’s Hartlepool career has effectively been ended and why Hughes is looking to North East youngsters instead.
He said: “Colin Nish has been given permission to stay in Scotland and extend his loan until the end of the season.
“I worked with him at Hibs and he’s a lovely big lad, but it’s not worked for him here.”
With Nish’s Hartlepool contract up at the end of the campaign, extending his stay at Scottish Premier League side Dundee has effectively cut his ties with Hartlepool.
Nish was one of a number of players unsuccessfully brought in by Wadsworth, who tried to blend them with academy players.
They will be the focus of the team Hughes plans to create.
He added: “What I want to do here is get guys in who want to be at the club.
“Matty Dolan, a Hartlepool boy, wants to be here from Middlesbrough. I want guys with North East passion who want to be here.”
Nineteen year-old Middlesbrough midfielder Dolan trained with Hartlepool last week with a view to a loan move when the window reopens in the New Year.
Now Nish is off a wage bill which was dangerously close to the League One salary cap, Dolan looks set to be Hughes’ first signing since replacing Cooper last month.
Hughes said: “The likes of Matty will want to be here.
“That’s why I want boys who know about the North East and have that passion.
“That’s what I say about the young boys coming through here.
“If you can bring them in then you get loyalty in return, they will run through a brick wall for you.”
North East teenagers Luke James, Jordan Richards, Jack Baldwin, Greg Rutherford, Darren Holden and Charlie Wyke have all been given their chance under Hughes, who surely has to prepare for life in League Two with his side 12 points adrift of safety and 14 behind Carlisle.
He added: “We have good boys in there. They are all good footballers and they have been brought up the way I like.
“They are comfortable in possession and that makes things easier for me.” Peter Hartley and Evan Horwood – like Dolan, Hartlepool-born players whose careers started elsewhere – will be hoping Saturday’s postponement allows them to feature today, as will Nathan Luscombe and Simon Walton.
Hughes, who took a training session instead, was anything but pleased to lose a rare winnable fixture to the rain.
He said: “There is a real disappointment because I felt the preparations have gone well and I could feel a momentum gathering. It would have been really nice for us to get that home win under our belts and give the supporters that before Christmas.
“I also share the disappointment of the Portsmouth fans with the travel costs and arrangements, especially at this time of year, so my heart goes out to them.
“I can guarantee we did everything possible to get the game on – but we can’t beat the elements and we have to take all things in to account. Now we will concentrate on Carlisle.”