Hartlepool Utd boss hopes club can land top transfer targets

Hartlepool United boss Neale Cooper
Hartlepool United boss Neale Cooper

NEALE Cooper agrees that footballers can no longer hold clubs to ransom – but hopes Hartlepool United would still “push the boat out” to land their top targets.

Pools chief executive Russ Green this month told SportMail that the bulging pool of free agents means players can ill afford to set out ambitious demands at the negotiating table.

Cooper, too, believes this to be the case, although he insists each potential target will be judged on their own merits.

“There are a lot of players out there right now,” said the Scot, who has added just Jonathan Franks to his Victoria Park ranks this summer.

“There’s a lot of agents trying to fix their players up, a lot of phone calls to take and it’ll start to get even busier over the next few weeks.

“But I would agree that the power is back with the clubs now.

“That is a good thing, of course, but sometimes you have to push the boat out to get the ones you want.”

Cooper’s targets remain the same – primarily a new central-midfielder and a centre-forward.

One of the names on his list was former Pools midfielder Tommy Miller, but he signed for Swindon Town last week – the Robins, ironically, also being the visitors to the Vic on the opening day of the League One season.

Steve Howard is another ex-Poolie on the radar, but any movement is not expected until the players reconvene for pre-season training at Maiden Castle in just over a week’s time.

Cooper told us last week that he would not be rushed in his pursuit of fresh blood but he is happy to have tied up the deal for the sought-after Franks.

The former Middlesbrough star is expected to multiply Cooper’s options in the wide areas, but the 48-year-old knows that further investment is needed in the final third.

“Defensively I think we’re strong and we probably don’t need too much tweaking at the back,” he said.

“We’ve had a fairly settled back five since I came in and they’re all boys I like very much.

“But creatively we need more in the middle, pace on the wings and someone who can put the ball in the net up front – simple isn’t it?

“We know what we want and that remains the same.

“We’ve got Jonathan Franks in and I’m excited to see what he will bring.

“It was good to get that deal done early and the boy himself was thrilled to come here and get it sorted.

“We need more, we know that, but we’ve still got plenty of time to bring players in.”