Hartlepool United close in on new manager

Phil Brown.
Phil Brown.
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HARTLEPOOL United will have a new manager in the dugout for Saturday’s visit of relegation rivals Coventry City – with Phil Brown favourite for a return to Victoria Park.

The 53-year-old was interviewed last Thursday having the previous night taken in Pools’ 2-0 defeat to Tranmere Rovers.

However, SportMail understands that Middlesbrough youth coach Colin Cooper, Livingston manager John Hughes and former Notts County boss Craig Short also went before chairman Ken Hodcroft and chief executive Russ Green.

The need for a new man to be installed by this weekend was heightened following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Yeovil Town, which leaves Pools nine points from safety and six adrift of second bottom Shrewsbury Town.

We believe that the club’s hierarchy are set to make their decision on who will replace Neale Cooper and an announcement is expected before Friday.

As revealed in SportMail a fortnight ago today - when rumours of Brian Laws’ arrival forced bookmakers to suspend the betting - Pools were never going to deviate from their preferred recruitment process.

In that time Brown has emerged as the front runner for the position and appears to be a popular choice among supporters.

The new boss - whoever it may be - will be presented with a home double header to kick off their reign, this weekend’s clash with the Sky Blues followed by Oldham Athletic’s visit three days later.

Micky Barron was in charge of his fourth match as caretaker at Huish Park on Saturday, and the 37-year-old says he remains in the dark as to his immediate future.

“All I can do is carry on, I don’t know the situation,” he said.

“I will wait and if I’m told to take training on Monday then I will, if it’s until Wednesday I will.

“The good thing is that the group is still together.

“Me, someone else, I think they will take a group determined to get out of the situation.”

Meanwhile, when Boro boss Tony Mowbray was asked about Colin Cooper’s link to Pools, he said: “He hasn’t spoken to me about it.

“But I’m fully aware that Colin wants to be a football manager.

“He’s doing a good job with our under-18s but I understand that he wants to manage, just like once upon a time eight or nine years ago I wanted to manage.

“I said to Joe Royle, ‘I’ve got the chance to go and talk to Hibernian’ and he shook me by the hand and said ‘good luck son’ and if Colin does that then we wish him well. I wouldn’t want to stand in the way.”