On Wednesday it was decided that after Micky Barron’s temporary spell in charge of Hartlepool United was to come to an end, Neale Cooper would return to to the club as First Team Coach and pick up where he left off six years ago.
Cooper previously left the club due to family circumstances at the time, but had always expressed a desire to return. The appointment is something as a surprise but one I’m sure the fans will be happy with.
Will that old saying “never go back” be apt? Probably not. Pools sit comfortably away from relegation and are closer to the play off zone in a respectable twelfth spot. It is just the home form which needs addressing, and once the balance of winning home games and picking up points away from home – that Hartlepool generally are quite good at doing – then the club could find themselves in a healthy position come the end of the season.
Another dilemma facing Cooper is whether or not to strengthen the squad, or to let some players go in order to make room for some of his own come in. The morale of the squad I expect is quite low, although I’m sure their latest win at Oldham has given the club heart. One thing Cooper does have as an advantage is the good staff around him and he will still know many of the players. Morale is key and he might try to bring in one or two new faces to assert his authority and look to freshen things up a little.
The fans seem to be buzzing with excitement and anticipation as many hold the new boss in high regard, as he is one of the most successful managers in Hartlepool history. Many will be reserving their judgement until he gets a good run of results under his belt, but the fans will begin to believe again and if that transpires across to the players, who knows what could happen?
As for Cooper, he guided Pools into the play-offs during his first season as manager in 2003/04, only to lose agonisingly to Bristol City across two legs. He then took the club into the play-offs again the following year, only to walk away at the last minute and see his side lose their play-off final to Sheffield Wednesday. I’m sure this time he will be looking to right a few wrongs and guide Pools once more towards the top half of the table.
Was this appointment the easy option? We all understand as fans that there is no money but I imagine to pay the dignified Mick Wadsworth off cost the club quite a bit. They then appoint a manager who they stated already knows the players and can work with existing members of staff instead of being given the option to bring in his own. Could this be seen as a cheap scam? A appointment that was inevitable? We’ll have to wait and see.
Written by John Mason, We Are Going Up’s Hartlepool United Blogger
John tweets at @john_mason29