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Cooper quits as Pools hit bottom spot
TEN months after leading Hartlepool United out as manager at Brentford, Micky Barron will this weekend do the same again.
The first-team coach was yesterday appointed caretaker manager after Neale Cooper resigned from his post at Victoria Park.
Barron’s previous spell in temporary command came after Mick Wadsworth’s departure last December and the former club captain will again step in, this time following Cooper’s exit.
The Scot’s departure was confirmed shortly before 5.30 pm yesterday following talks with chairman Ken Hodcroft in Newcastle.
But, in reality, Cooper quit in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Bury, a result that left Pools bottom of League One amid a 12-game winless run.
On the full-time whistle at Gigg Lane he headed instantly for the dressing rooms and the players weren’t out until around 10.30pm.
Chief executive Russ Green silently emerged minutes before and Cooper followed shortly afterwards to carry out his media duties, but cut a shadow of his normal bubbly self.
A club statement yesterday read: “It is with reluctance that Hartlepool United today accepted the resignation of First Team Coach Neale Cooper.
“Neale, who came to the Club in December 2011, stated that he had enjoyed his time at Victoria Park and also the full support of the Club's owners IOR, along with all the players and staff.
“However, he decided that it was in the best interests of the Club that he stood down from his position as First Team Coach.
“Neale stated that he had been very disappointed with the results achieved since the start of the season and, although in several games luck had been against the team, he nevertheless believes they can move on and secure League One status with someone else leading the campaign.
“The Club wishes to thank Neale for his commitment and dedication, and wishes him every success in his return to Scotland.
“Micky Barron has agreed to take temporary charge of the First Team for the immediate future.
“There will be no further comment at this time.’’ Pools’ normal Thursday press conference has been cancelled this morning and the team will head to West London tomorrow morning.
Barron managed three games last season after Wadsworth’s exit – a loss at Brentford, home defeat to Colchester and a win over Oldham.
Cooper was appointed on December 28, but was only able to engineer seven wins from 40 games and this season has been a huge disappointment.
It started with a 5-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Crewe and they have only won one game, against Scunthorpe at Victoria Park.
He admitted on Tuesday night that he was no longer enjoying his role with Pools six points from safety.
“It will be hard to get out of this,” he confessed. “We don’t have the biggest squad the way finances are.
“But they have to stick together and compete and fight their way out of trouble.
“One or two boys have to do a lot better than they’re doing.
“There were a few home truths said in the dressing room afterwards.
“There’s so much pressure on everyone that confidence is low.
“I understand the supporters’ frustration and I’m getting it with both barrels.”
Cooper’s first spell in charge was a huge success from 2003-2005 and he earned adulation and hero status from the Victoria Park faithful during that time.
With that goodwill seeping away as results fell drastically short of the required standard, Cooper’s self-belief and confidence was draining away.
“I will always be fond of Hartlepool people whatever happens, I promise that,’’ he said.
“But I’m getting stick wherever I go now and it’s not pleasant. I live in Hartlepool and that’s the name of the game.
“That hurts because I’ve always had a good rapport with the people and now, because of where we are in the league, it’s not.
“It’s affected me and it’s not my nature to be like that.’’ Caretaker Barron also saw chairman Hodcroft yesterday and it remains to be seen how long he will stay in caretaker command.
Former Pools defender Phil Brown is likely to be among the potential candidates for the post – both he and Brian Laws, the ex-Burnley manager expressed interest in the recent job at Bury.