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Cooper after a repeat of Sheffield United display
THE season, for Hartlepool United, began on an abysmal note - and tomorrow Neale Cooper wants his players to start again.
A week before the League One campaign started, Pools lost 5-0 at Crewe in the Capital One Cup.
They are back there tomorrow, and on the back of Tuesday's decent and improved display against Sheffield United at Victoria Park, the Pools boss feels his players have finally shown what they can do.
The season has been a major disappointment so far, but the midweek 2-1 loss was a vast improvement in terms of performance, particularly after being humbled 3-1 at Colchester days earlier, and now Cooper wants a repeat showing.
"The players set the standard on Tuesday and I cannot ask for any more than that, especially after the disappointment of last weekend,'' he said. "We faced a really strong side on Tuesday and we were outstanding - I was really proud of the players and the supporters as well. I was pleased with their reaction at the end and throughout the game.
"The challenge now is to keep that standard. That's what they are capable of. Play like that and we will be fine and win more games.
"We are in a position where we have to fight for everything right now and we have to show the Hartlepool people what they want.
"They need to show the same grit and determination. I knew Tuesday would be a tough game and I've been feeling fed up with the way results have been going and I know that when this team turns up like it can we can be a force to match anyone.''
The players will be reminded of their August defeat before they run out tomorrow.
Cooper, who watched striker Ryan Noble score twice for Sunderland in a behind-closed-doors win over Middlesbrough yesterday, was full of fury after that Crewe defeat and is looking for his players to show that sort of passion tomorrow.
"We have to fight our way out of it at the moment and it was unfortunate to lose a goal at the end on Tuesday,'' he said. "But I look back and we put a lot more pressure on them - they came in accepting they were so fortunate.
"But now we have to go to Crewe and come back from that disappointment. Play like we did the other night and come away with a win.
"We have lost there already this season badly and it must make us determined and use as a spur for the boys. Even that day we still created chances and didn't take them.
"We go there with a fighting attitude, I've said that to them. Perform and have the same workrate as the other night.''