Hartlepool Utd boss warns players are facing most important summer of their careers

POOLS BOSS: Colin Cooper watches the game against Exeter City. Picture by FRANK REID

POOLS BOSS: Colin Cooper watches the game against Exeter City. Picture by FRANK REID

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COLIN Cooper is under no illusions as to the challenge facing him this summer and he admits jobs are on the line if things don’t improve next season.

The 47-year-old was honest enough to admit after defeat to Exeter City that if Pools finish in the same position next season he is unlikely to still have a job.

And he told the players they too are facing the “most important” summer of their careers because he won’t be accepting second best.

Cooper told SportMail: “I won’t accept what has happened and if the players want to accept that, then they and me won’t be here in 12-months time.

“I certainly intend to be here because I want to work very hard at this job.

“If players don’t want to work as hard as me then they won’t be here.”

This has been his first season as a manager and Cooper insists he has enjoyed it “immensely” but Saturday’s flat performance left him fuming.

Cooper added: “I think it’s fair to say this football club has stuttered and stalled for a number of seasons now.

“It’s my job to try and stop that and find the answers and solutions.

“Next season can’t be like this season – either for the players or for me.

“I enjoy this job immensely but if we finish 19th in League Two next year then I won’t be here – I’m fully aware of that.

“I’ve told the players this is the most important summer of their football careers because I will not be accepting mediocrity.

“While I accept some players may be better than others, while I accept some players are more technically gifted, what I won’t accept is the kind of energy levels I got out there Saturday; for young players that shouldn’t happen.

“There were too many players who didn’t even show enough energy and that disappoints me to say because they are a real honest bunch.

“For whatever reason I could pick my way through the team and wouldn’t be picking too many that I would be patting on the back.”

On Tuesday, Cooper will hold a meeting with the team as part of a “formal closing down” of the season before the players are released for their summer break.

When asked when the retained list would be revealed, Cooper told SportMail: “I have a formal meeting with the players Tuesday afternoon and it may be after that.”

But he admitted to being frustrated with the attitude of some of the players before they depart for the summer.

He said: “There is one thing that I have found, which I find staggering, and I don’t know what has happened in the past but I have had players telling me ‘I need to be here on Tuesday or there on Wednesday’.

“No you don’t, this is your job and I haven’t released you from your job yet and said it is holiday time.

“I found that very frustrating that I had players coming to me and saying ‘I’m here and there’.

“No you are not – you will be where I tell you to be.”

- RICHARD MENNEAR