End of season frustrations increases Cooper's desire to succeed at Pools (From The Advertiser Series)
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End of season frustrations increases Cooper's desire to succeed at Pools
IT is hard to imagine that only three weeks ago Hartlepool United were sitting within touching distance of a play-off place and now Colin Cooper is searching for a Bank Holiday boost to eradicate relegation fears.
Despite the topsy-turvy world of professional football, Cooper's first year in frontline management has left him hungry for more and determined to succeed.
The former Middlesbrough defender takes Pools to promotion contenders Burton Albion this afternoon knowing a sixth straight defeat could significantly heighten fears of playing in the Conference Premier next season.
Cooper, whose side face fellow strugglers Morecambe on Easter Monday at Victoria Park, still firmly believes in what he is striving to achieve and, crucially, the way he is going about it.
“I've learned this is the world I want to be in, definitely,” said Cooper. “I've learned there's no point thinking you are (Jose) Mourinho and no point thinking you are rubbish either. The reality is somewhere in between.
“I don't get too carried away, I don't big myself up, but I know what I am trying to do is all right.
“I believe I have got some good ideas, both now and moving forward. I believe in how I want to play the game, but in order to play the football in this league you have to compete in both 18-yard boxes.
“Sometimes we've been able to and sometimes we haven't. Sometimes we've been young and naive and sometimes we've been excellent. Sometimes we've been bad. But that is the spectrum of football.
“What we must do over the next four games is have the belief that what we do is all right.
“I will still attempt to get the ball down and play. But we have to compete in our 18-yard box but also try to be creative in theirs. We are not getting battered so that shows no-one has thrown in the towel.”
In his first season in charge of Hartlepool he has experienced the highs and lows. After a dreadful start to the campaign when they failed to win any of their opening six matches, Cooper then led a revival before inconsistency took over.
In the last few weeks, though, certain fans have been hurling brickbats rather than bouquets and he heard rumblings of discontent after last Saturday's defeat to Chesterfield from the terraces.
He said: “When we were flying and I was walking off the pitch people were shouting nice things and I thought 'that's lovely, thank you'. But results dictate things.
“Are we playing that badly? No but results tell the fans we are not playing well. When people are shouting at me after losing to Chesterfield I have to accept that.
“People want results and I want to give them a team that is good to watch as well, if you can do both that's the icing on the cake.
“Where we are at the moment is we are still trying to do the right thing but may be confidence levels are down a bit and we're not getting the rub of the green.
“Now there is may be something in some of the fans minds where they are saying you are not very good. I accept that, that's the world I am in. I'm learning and l'm thoroughly enjoying the job.”
With just two points now separating Hartlepool and the drop zone, the need for points is great with just four matches remaining. Cooper is desperate to reach Tuesday knowing League Two status has been preserved.
“I'm conscious about getting what we need to stay in this league and saying we haven't been quite good enough,” he said. “First we need to roll up our sleeves, get the points on the board then put 2014-15 into action.
“Those plans are in my folder, ready to go and say 'Mr Chairman, there's next year'.
“Until that happens he's well within his rights to say we need to sort out this situation first. As long as we get the situation sorted that's all I'm bothered about. I want to put next season's plan into operation but I can't until the mathematics say so. Then I can.”