NEW Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper admits he is guarded against a relegation “hangover” within the Victoria Park dressing-room.
The 46-year-old – installed yesterday as first-team chief – inherits a club which will begin next season in the bottom tier for the first time in seven years.
Pools finished 23rd in League One last term following a disastrous campaign in which they populated the relegation zone from September onwards.
Cooper understands that the club and its players have endured what he calls a “traumatic” and “negative” period on Clarence Road.
But he is determined to ensure such feeling is eradicated before the League Two season kicks off in early August.
“We have a group of players who have been through a traumatic season and we have to make sure that is flushed out very quickly,” said Trimdon-born Cooper.
“People can have that hangover for a long time.
“You see teams who get relegated and then get relegated again.
“We have to make sure the new season comes with a fresh feel.
“We need to do that with some additions which will give that freshness and vitality but also by bringing our own ideas to the players who are already here.”
He added: “After what’s been quite a negative time for the football club I think it’s time to springboard the club towards success.
“The supporters have not had much in return in recent years.
“We have to create stability and momentum.”
Cooper will be assisted by former Pools midfielder Craig Hignett.
The pair have long since fancied a crack at management and were in for the job prior to John Hughes’ appointment last November.
And Cooper told the club website: “It’s no secret that I have been trying to get into this side of things for quite a while.
“I’m bubbling and I’m excited at the prospect of what myself and Craig can do here.
“Can we make Hartlepool everyone’s other team?
“We want to make them an exciting football team.”
He went on: “I have high standards – I always did as a player.
“But I like to be on the field coaching.
“Craig is from an attacking background so that contrast will be good.
“We want to put every ounce of our energies into making this football club successful.”