NEALE Cooper has sent a message to the Hartlepool public thanking them for their “special” support – but insists his decision to walk away from Pools was the right one.
The Scot has spoken for the first time since his resignation from Victoria Park last Wednesday.
In a heartfelt interview, Cooper spoke of his pride at returning to the club last year, but expressed his devastation as it became increasingly evident his tenure could not continue.
And the 48-year-old hopes that, in ending his second spell as manager, he has preserved his relationship with the people of the town.
“It couldn’t go on,” Cooper told SportMail
“I knew in my heart that it was the right decision.
“I didn’t want to go on with a situation which wasn’t going to improve – that would not have been fair on the club or the supporters.
“Then, towards the back end of last week, I started getting so many lovely messages from fans and you start to think ‘have I done the right thing?’.
“But it was – I’d tried everything to improve things on the pitch but it wasn’t happening.
“It was killing me and I knew in myself I’d lost my spark, it had been drained from me.
“I couldn’t just sit there taking my wage and let things continue, I think too much of the club and the people of the town to do that.
“The support they’ve given me over the years has been so special, it honestly has, it means the world to me.
“I didn’t want to ruin that, and I hope I haven’t.
“I’ve been back in the town this week and the response from fans has been quite emotional for me at times.
“And that has helped me so much because I feel like already I’ve got some of that bounce back in me.
“This is a good town with good people, that will never change.”
Cooper admits he was no longer enjoying watching his team and concedes that the slide to the bottom of the table was “not good enough”.
But he nonetheless insists he has no regrets over returning to the Vic last December.
“I wouldn’t change a thing in terms of coming back,” said the man who presided over arguably the most successful period in the club’s history between 2003 and 2005.
“It was an incredibly proud feeling to be back and I wanted it to work so badly.
“I felt I had unfinished business from my first time here.
“But, for whatever reason, it just didn’t click.
“I wasn’t enjoying it in the end and, if I wasn’t, it couldn’t have been much fun for the supporters either.
“I made mistakes and there are a few things I would do differently in hindsight.
“But what I was seeing on the pitch just wasn’t good enough – it really wasn’t.
“I feel as if a few boys could have done a lot better for me and they know that.
“But they’re a good bunch on the whole and I’ve spoken to a few of them since.
“I wish them all the best and there are a couple of lads in there who will go on to have top, top careers.”