COLIN Cooper today expressed sadness over close friend and former teammate Tony Mowbray’s sacking as Middlesbrough boss.
But the Pools boss said he will be looking to form a working relationship with the new manager for the good of Hartlepool United.
Mowbray had been at Middlesbrough for three years and was the longest-serving manager in the Skybet Championship until his sacking on Monday night.
Cooper, who had three spells at Middlesbrough over his career as a player and coach, left his role in Middlesbrough’s Academy this summer to take charge at Pools and he remains good friends with Mowbray.
The 46-year-old, who was a 20-1 shot for the Boro job before Pools’ match last night, said: “I am very sad for Tony.
“I played with Tony 20-odd years ago and we have remained close and I was as delighted as anybody when he got the Middlesbrough job but it has been a horrendous 2013 for him.
“He still felt there was work to do and work to proceed on but Middlesbrough, in his own words, are in a different place to 10 years ago when I was still playing.
“I feel really sorry for him.
“The club is in my heart and I want them to do well.
“Whoever the manager is I wish them well because 20-odd years at one football club in three different spells means an awful lot to me.
“If I wasn’t sad for Tony I wouldn’t be a very good mate and we were colleagues and are very good mates.”
Former Hartlepool United defender Mark Venus, from Seaton Carew, has been put in temporary charge at Middlesbrough and Cooper said he is looking forward to having a good working relationship with the new manager.
Cooper, a former England international, made more than 300 appearances for the club and held several coaching roles including reserve team coach and first-team coach and caretaker manager.
Cooper added: “I just want Middlesbrough to have an upsurge because I was at the club when they got relegated out of the Premier League and it hurt me when Gareth got sacked because I was part of the staff.
“It didn’t hurt me so much when Mr [Gordon] Strachan left because he asked me to leave the staff.
“But after Tony got appointed I thought ‘bang on’ and both the chairman and chief executive said they thought it was the best thing they had done since appointing Bruce Rioch in 1985 and I felt exactly the same. I wanted Tony to be the one that turned it around.
“That has come to an end, so whoever takes the job I just hope they have Middlesbrough at their heart.
“Whoever takes charge I have to have a relationship with them because I still want to bring Middlesbrough players through our system.
“The relationship I had with Tony was pick the phone up and it was ‘Coops we will do whatever we can to help’. I need that relationship to continue.
“Whoever that manager is, whether it is Mark [Venus] over a long or short period and whatever happens after, I need to have a relationship with that person.”
– RICHARD MENNEAR