May 21, 2024

Former England star, 50, leaves non-league club after issuing dismissive statement with Sky Sports legend 'lost for words'

Geoff Stelling has slammed his beloved Hartlepool club for “ruining the summer” by ousting former England striker Kevin Phillips as manager.

The former Saturday Football host is “at a loss for words” after the fifth-tier club refused to renew the Sunderland legend's contract.

Kevin Phillips was replaced as Hartlepool boss after just three monthsCredit: Getty
Jeff Stelling was amazing in the Bulls' win over PhillipsCredit: PA

In place of former Stevenage, Yeovil and Woking boss Darren Sarll replaced Phillips after just a day.

Radio legend Stilling shared the shock of many Bulls supporters.

Phillips, 50, a former Watford, West Brom and Birmingham player, led the Premier League side to safety after arriving in January on a short-term deal.

Former boss John Askey was sacked after Hartlepool dropped to 16th place with just one win in seven matches.

But despite a promising start, the Phillips Bulls finished 12th out of 24 teams in the National League after a series of inconsistent performances.

He described the 7-1 loss to north-eastern rivals Gateshead on March 26 as one of the worst days of his life.

Hartlepool deservedly took an early lead and were still level at the break, scoring six goals in the second half as they slid into a humiliating derby.

But Stelling responded to Phillips' departure by posting on X: “JP has been a breath of fresh air at our football club. I'm frustrated, he's ruined our summer.”

Best free sign up offers for betting on UK bookmakerss

The talkSPORT Breakfast presenter asked Hartlepool to say whether the former Air Strike hero had received a “blind offer”.

See also  WM - Starkbaum: "Why can't we stay up late?" Winter sports - ice hockey

He added: “I know none of us think that's the case but I think we'll have to wait to hear it.” Depression regardless!”

Jeff Stilling reveals a touching phone call from the megastar as he thanked viewers after 29 years on Soccer Saturday

After confirming that this was Hartlepool's choice, Stelling added: “So now we all know. It's not KP's decision to leave at all. I'm at a loss for words.”

“Kevin has done a good job this season since taking over as head coach and he has been great to work with,” Bulls president Raj Singh said of Phillips’ parting on Friday.

He added: “His mission when he was appointed was to first ensure that the club maintained its current position in the league, and then start searching for the playoff places.”

He conveniently helped ensure that the club stayed clear of any relegation fears, which existed at one point.

“We extend our thanks to Kevin and we all wish him the best in the next steps of his career. He will always be welcome at the pools.”

But many fans were as surprised by Sarll's quick appointment as they were by the loss of Phillips.

Club director Andy Steele said: “We are delighted to have secured Darren to deliver on our bid to return to the Premier League.

Kevin Phillips is best known for his days as a striker with Sunderland from 1997-2003 and for winning six caps for the Three Lions.Credit: Getty

He added: “He has presented a very clear and convincing point of view on how he wants to build the team, provide a positive style of football that statistically supports success in this league, and create a winning mentality and culture.”

See also  2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs first round schedule

Sarl (41 years old) added: “I am really excited to start… I came here to win and we need to close this gap in the qualifiers.”

“We will not accept mediocrity, we need a challenge every season, and it all starts from the dressing room.

“Building a strong dressing room is the priority before the start of the new season.”