Dave Challinor has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with National League side Stockport County.
Hartlepool fans will be left feeling sore, angry and confused after their manager, who helped guide them back into the Football league after a four-year spell in the National League, told the board he wanted to leave.
That comes just weeks after he signed a new three-year deal at Victoria Park.
His exit was confirmed via the club website on Tuesday evening.
Challinor told the Stockport website: “It’s been ridiculously difficult [to leave Hartlepool], once the interest came in [from County] there was always going to be an attraction but the affinity I’ve built up with a fan base was amazing – the biggest tie I had to get over.
“If you take emotion out of it, this move became a no-brainer.”
Interestingly, Stockport made an approach last week, however, it was rejected considering the manager’s recent contract renewal.
With rumours brewing, Challinor failed to play down the speculation when questioned about his future following Hartlepool United’s 5-0 drubbing against Leyton Orient on Saturday.
He was in charge for just under two years, the 46-year-old not only steered the team back into the Football league, he insured a solid start to the season with Hartlepool currently sitting tenth.
He added: “The investment that has been put into it, on and off the pitch, makes County an incredibly exciting proposition for any manager.
“This can be seen by the influx of new talent the club has recruited over the last month players like Robert Elstone and Anthony Sarcevic.”
The former County player said: “The chance to return to County and help make Club history was too good an opportunity to miss.
“I look forward to being re-united with County fans on Sunday.”
Lastly, Challinor has stated his intentions for the remainder of the season is ‘getting back to the Football League’.
For Hartlepool fans, a major setback. Challinor had his side playing very good football that resulted in them being four points away from automatic promotion places.
This event could result in a fatal ending, similar to the final day of the 16/17 season where the Monkey Hangers were relegated in the final minutes despite a momentous 2-1 victory over Doncaster Rovers.
But it is not all doom and gloom. Some big names with heavy Football League experience are linked to the vacancy.