IAN Holloway believes if Pool can stay up it could be the start of a lengthy run in the Premier League.
The manager knows that the first season with the big boys is always the hardest.
But beat the drop – and Pool have four games to do it, starting with Stoke at a packed Bloomfield Road today – and he thinks the club will have a rosy future.
Holloway said: “The first season is never an easy journey, but just look at the team we are playing today.
“Stoke came up to the Premier League three years ago and you can see how they have grown each year.
“But even they struggled in their first season.
“Basically you just have to try to stay up your first year and then take it from there. You build the best you can.
“Stoke are in the FA Cup final now, which is marvellous, and shows what can be done.
“We are in the first stage of it still and it was always going to be tough.
“But I think the club has risen to the challenge.
“What we’ve achieved in this short period of time is incredible.
“No one else had to build a new stand in the summer.
“We haven’t got undersoil heating, which hampered us over Christmas.
“None of the other clubs have these problems.
“As I read in one paper the other day, we have a training ground that is almost not good enough to breed rats.
“But if you see how far that has come in the last year with the hard work of the groundsman, it is phenomenal.
“So we are trying to make as good a show as possible for ourselves and I think we have.
“Now, if we can just get over the line and stay up, then I think it gives us a real opportunity – with the extra £40m we’ll get – to really properly build for the future, and to stay at this level for a good deal longer.”
Pool are likely to need another six points to survive.
They have four games left – home clashes with Stoke and Bolton, and away trips to Tottenham and Manchester United.
On paper it sounds tough, but Holloway said: “I am not scared at all by the last four games, and I think we can get the points we need.
“I am still loving my job and relishing the next few weeks.
“How could I not enjoy it?
“I get to play Football Manager for real, instead of sat at home on my computer talking to my mates.
“It’s different to last year’s pressure.
“That was a tremendous life-changing journey back then.
“The qualities we had then are still here, albeit we are at a higher level.
“I keep watching tapes of what we did last year to see if we are doing anything different. We aren’t.
“I just think the quality of this division has caught us out.
“People taking more of their chances against you at the higher level – it’s tough in this division.
“I can’t blame my team for that, just congratulate them on actually being in this league in the first place.
“We are just trying to progress and with four games left, every single one of us would have taken this before the start of the season.
“We still have 12 points left to fight for, and we have one hell of a chance.”