COLIN Cooper arrived at Hartlepool United today with the message: I’m desperate to be a success.
The 46-year-old was yesterday appointed as the new first-team coach and will have former Boro – and briefly – Pools midfielder Craig Hignett as his right-hand man.
Cooper was at a sun-kissed Victoria Park today for a series of media interviews and said he had no hestitation in swapping life as Middlesbrough Academy coach for being the boss of a side just relegated into League Two.
“This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for for quite a while,” said Cooper.
“I am just looking forward to the challenge.”
Cooper comes from just down the road from Hartlepool, Trimdon, and has spent much of his career at Middlesbrough, two long and successful playing spells, plus the last few seasons at the famed Academy at Rockliffe,
And he admits the desperation to prove himself to the people of this part of the world will be driving him on.
“I am from here and I have to make it successful because the one thing I don’t want to do is let anyone down, whether it’s my mates from Trimdon and Hartlepool or the people of Middlesbrough,” he explained,
“The driving force is, I don’t want my mates or my family or the people of Hartlepool or Middlesbrough to say ‘well, he couldn’t actually do it’.
“I think I can do it.”
Looking still fit enough to be able to play, he cut a bright and confident figure.
But he is well aware of the size of the job facing him and Hignett yet relishes the opportunity of turning things around.
“It’s a big task and if someone turns around and says otherwise then they are living in a world that doesn’t exist,” said the twice-capped England international.
“Both me and Craig have been given the opportunity because of the situation we are in.
“But we are buoyed and excited about the chance.
“There is going to have to be a real switch in the culture and me and Craig are going to have to shake off the hangover [of relegation] as quickly as we can.
“We’ll be looking to add some really good characters to the characters that we already have here.
“And when the season comes around, give the players something to look forward to and give the fans something to look forward to and hopefully give everyone something to smile about, which I don’t think has happened for a while down here.”
Cooper makes no predictions about what Pools will do in the 2013-14 season.
But he believes he and Hignett can quickly put together a skilful side and then take it from there.
“I’d like to think we can produce a team that can play good, open, exciting football and put a smile back on the face of the Hartlepool fans,” he said.