NEALE Cooper has praised Hartlepool United’s Dutch opposition – admitting their brand of football is difficult to match.
Pools return home from Holland today with a record which reads played two, lost two, conceded five, scored none – second-division outfits Telstar and Almere City the 2-0 and 3-0 victors respectively.
But Cooper would far rather his players come up against such ball-friendly adversaries in their first taste of pre-season action, as opposed to trouncing a local non-league side.
“Sometimes you get a false picture when you come abroad and you play lesser sides and batter them and everyone thinks it’s great,” he told SportMail before returning to the North-East today.
“I’ve been involved with teams when you win every game in the summer but then have the worst start to a season ever.
“We’ve played two good teams and lost, and it’s disappointing not to win or score.
“But these were two very good games for us.”
Cooper, though, admits he became frustrated when his players tried to play the Dutch at their own game.
“We put ourselves under pressure at times – the boys at the back just passing to people when it’s not even on,” he said.
“We put more pressure on ourselves in the first half by our play at the back.
“You can’t take chances like that.
“We’re not like the Dutch teams who like to play the ball out from the back.
“It’s quite hard to judge yourself against them because that’s not how we play.
“That’s not the way our boys or anyone in England plays.
“It’s not our game knocking it about at the back, we’ve got to be more direct and get the balls in the channels and get behind people.
“We started doing that in the second half and it showed how much better we looked.
“But credit to the Dutch teams, they’ve been very good opposition, I’ve been impressed and I wish them both all the best for the season ahead.”