ANTONY Sweeney admits he bears no grudge with the previous managerial regime at Hartlepool United after he was cast aside from the first-team coaching picture at the beginning of the season.
Following Paul Hartley’s appointment as manager along with Gordon Young as his assistant, the duo decided that Sweeney was surplus to requirements after spending three-and-a-half years as part of the first-team coaching staff under a number of different regimes.
It’s understood the decision to exclude Sweeney from the first-team picture was met with condemnation from the club’s hierarchy. Whilst they did not want to interfere with Hartley and his methods, they decided to keep the 39-year-old Sweeney in a role within the club’s newly founded academy.
Since Hartley’s sacking, the former Pools midfielder has been restored as first-team coach alongside interim manager Keith Curle and assistant manager Colin West whilst he will still work within his role in the academy to a lesser degree. There was an outpouring of support when Sweeney was cast aside by Hartley but he admits that he has a level of understanding for the decision.
“Paul and Gordon have previously always worked as a two” he said. “In my opinion, if you’ve had success at that, you’d be crazy to change the blueprint of that too much. I just fell the wrong side of it.
“There wasn’t much that was required from me so I am thankful of the football club that they found a role where I could still contribute. That’s all you want when you work. You want to contribute and enjoy your work and I have done for four months.
“It won’t be a case of now forgetting that four months and solely focusing on the first-team. There should be a cohesion between the youth development and the first-team and it will be my job to ensure that can be as successful as it can.”
As well as his three-year stint amongst the coaching staff, Sweeney is considered a club legend for his playing career making 444 appearances and scoring 62 goals during a 13 year stay in the North-East.
Hartley’s reign at the Suit Direct Stadium was short but not so sweet. A nine game winless run, coupled with tensions behind the scenes, forced the club’s hand to sack the Scot with the intentions of salvaging the season and steering the club away from a relegation dogfight.
Sweeney effectively watched the first-team’s failings unfold from the sidelines wanting to have an input into games as he continued: “I’m not one for saying if I was sat in the dugout then results would have been different. No one will ever know that but I think there is certain things when you have been at the football club as long as I have and you know what the fanbase expect, I think sometimes it can be a benefit if you can input that into the players.
“Like I say, there is no hard feelings from myself. I’ve been in contact with both guys, wished them well for the future and I’m sure they will go on to be a success in whatever they do. Sometimes football just doesn’t work for whatever reason and results just didn’t work. We move on, they’ll move on. We’ve got to put things right as quickly as we possibly can.
“I’ve said all along there was never a cross word said between us. It was just a case of one direction didn’t include me, no problem at all with that. That’s football.”
Whilst other clubs may well have taken unneeded coaching staff off the books, the club kept Sweeney on within his role in developing the academy, something he remains eternally grateful for as he makes the step back up to first-team affairs.
The former Pools midfielder added: “I’m quite fortunate that the club allowed me to go into a different role because most football clubs, you’d be out the door. I recognise that and I am appreciative of the chairman and the board that they allowed me to do that.
“I’ve got no hard feelings around it. It was difficult at the time because I just wanted to be active. I didn’t need a major role but I also didn’t want to be inactive if you like. But no hard feelings, we move on.”