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What's in store for Pools in the coming months?
COLIN COOPER has the nous, the masterplan, and the credentials. But has he got the tools he needs to get Hartlepool United out of League Two?
Last season was a mixture of promise, frustration, disappointment and, ultimately, relief.
But should Pools really have been in danger of finishing in the bottom two? Weeks earlier they harboured genuine hopes of the play-offs and flirted with the top seven.
Fast forward a few weeks and they were looking over their shoulders. While the atmosphere and celebration that followed the Easter Monday win over Morecambe was a season high, it was a scenario that never should have arisen.
Pools’ form tailed off spectacularly towards the end of the campaign. The thin squad and youthful nature of key players caught up with them.
This time around and, while Cooper is out to bolster his squad, at this moment is it really a stronger than last time?
Defensively, Pools won’t concede many. Scott Flinders will be a better goalkeeper for working under Stephen Pears. Matthew Bates should be a solid and commanding presence. Cooper still seeks a centre-half and getting Christian Burgess back from Middlesbrough would be a boon.
In midfield, he’s moved the enigma that was Simon Walton on and is seeking stability in there, someone to play and teach Bradley Walker the mechanics of a being a first-team player.
Out wide and Jack Compton seeks real consistency and the ability to make a regular impact, the same scenario applies to Jonathan Franks.
It’s up front where Pools may fall short. Is there enough goals in the side?
Luke James has had his breakthrough season. He’s now a marked man. The progress he made last season will continue and he can top last season’s 16-goal tally.
Marlon Harewood is unlikely to score that many. His presence is sometimes enough to unsettle defences, but Pools needs more from him than cameos within games.
Owners IOR have never been lavish in their outlook, their prudent approach has worked well over the years, but Cooper doesn’t have the budget previous managers have enjoyed.
Another year has passed without as much as a murmur from the councillors in charge of the stagnated Mill House Masterplan. That planned redevelopment of Victoria Park and the surrounding area will have a massive impact on the club’s future well-being. It’s high time we saw some positive movement on that front.
The town is struggling, and the Town’s Club is too important to allow it to drop into a state of decay like too many aspects of Hartlepool.