FORMER England striker Dion Dublin has called on Hartlepool boss Neale Cooper to go for broke in this weekend’s Capital One Cup season opener against Crewe.
Cooper described his pre-season as ‘hugely successful’ despite losing in Holland and against Premiership neighbours Newcastle but according to Dublin it’s the momentum a cup run can generate that Hartlepool need to create.
Cooper has brought in Steve Howard, Jonathan Franks and Simon Walton from Leicester, Middlesbrough and Plymouth respectively – ingredients Dublin is convinced will allow Hartlepool to get off to a flyer.
And former Coventry and Manchester United striker Dublin believes a positive showing in the cup can only give Cooper the perfect platform for a League One promotion push.
“It is all about starting well for Neale Cooper and Hartlepool and if that is through a cup game, so be it,” said Dublin.
“Whatever time of the season it is – a cup run builds confidence and momentum and always transfers into positive performances and results in the league.
“It is very important to get his new players bedded in and getting them playing in the right way so that the manager is happy.
“Hartlepool has brought in some good players and the Capital One Cup is another opportunity to mould his newlook side and start to see what does and doesn’t work.
“Also a good performance in the season opener helps to get the fans through the turnstile all season and so it’s crucial Neale can ensure the fans enjoy the way the way his team is playing.
“The money from these competitions will also be important to Hartlepool because these are funds that the smaller clubs can thrive on and move forward with.
“The build-up to the games is always nice for the smaller clubs as well – they can get themselves a bit of coverage in the papers.
“It is all about producing revenue for the clubs and keeping them alive – a win against Crewe could mean a big money-spinning tie with a Premier League club next up.”
With Premier League bosses fielding experimental sides, Dublin believes there is an opportunity for Football League teams to progress towards Wembley.
Last season Cardiff reached the final after beating fellow Championship club Crystal Palace in the semi-final, while Aldershot hosted Premier League runners-up Manchester United at the Rec.
And it’s the lure of entertaining a big name at Victoria Park that should drive Hartlepool on against Crewe this weekend, according to Dublin.
“I don’t see why Hartlepool can’t do well in the competition,” added Dublin.
“Realistically, they will do very well to win it, but if they can put together a good run, they will put themselves in a great position for the following season, especially with regard to financial security.
“It gives a sense of excitement and, hopefully, gets people through the turnstiles as well.
“Hopefully the clubs can build on that and there will be a snowball effect, with the crowds staying high and everybody looking forward to the next round with a sense of expectation.
“When I was at Cambridge United, we got to the quarter finals twice, even though we were a fourth division side at the time. We lost against Arsenal one year and Crystal Palace the other. Along the way, we made some decent days for the club and had some great attendance figures.”
Dion Dublin was talking on behalf of Capital One, the credit card company and new sponsors of The League Cup. Round 1 of the Capital One Cup takes place from August 11 to 14.