Is Middlesbrough move for Craig Hignett from Hartlepool United really a surprise?

DREAM TEAM: Colin Cooper (left) and Craig Hignett
DREAM TEAM: Colin Cooper (left) and Craig Hignett

IF Colin Cooper’s day job at Hartlepool United wasn’t already busy enough, then it certainly is now.

But perhaps Craig Hignett’s dramatic and unexpected resignation late yesterday afternoon shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Alongside Cooper, the popular Scouser has helped steady the ship at Pools this season on a tight budget and as things stand Pools are five points off the top seven with two months left to go – all to play for.

But while Cooper is undoubtedly the Captain of the Good Ship Pools, the departure of his First Mate Higgy will come as a major blow, both to him and the playing staff.

Luke James had great potential before the former Boro pair stepped into the Pools dugout but they have transformed him into one of the hottest properties in the lower leagues.

The 19-year-old has 14 goals to his name already this season, and the training ground influence of Hignett on his improved goalscoring form cannot be underestimated.

Let’s hope Pools can keep the clutches of Boro at bay when it comes to the likes of James and Brad Walker, another top prospect who Hignett will know inside out.

Boro boss Aitor Karanka has waited a while to appoint a number two and you can see by the overwhelming show of support from the Boro fans that Hignett is a popular choice.

A former Riverside favourite, if he cannot help inspire Boro – who haven’t scored in almost 12 hours – to find the back of the net then Karanka really will be in trouble.

After all, Higgy scored the first ever goal at the Riverside, in a 2-0 win against Chelsea.

It is a shrewd move by Karanka and Steve Gibson. Hignett is well liked, well respected, with a decent contacts book in the English game and has shown his coaching ability this season.

But his departure, after only nine months at Pools, has angered and disappointed some supporters.

While others wish him well on the next step in his career, many have voiced their frustration over his departure and the timing and manner of his exit.

Pools fans, though, should be used to seeing their assets leave, after all it has been barely a month since defender Jack Baldwin left for pastures new at Peterborough United.

But it will be Cooper that will be most disappointed, as Hignett has gone immediately, starting work at Rockcliffe this morning under the guidance of his new boss Karanka.

Hignett and Cooper formed a good bond, with the former forward focused on the flair and attack with the former Boro and Nottingham Forest defender’s expertise in defence.

The pair were even due to feature on the BBC’s Late Kick Off programme together last night, the interview filmed a fortnight ago.

Time will tell how significant for Pools Hignett’s departure to neighbouring Boro will be, let’s hope they don’t come back any time soon for Cooper.

Focus for play-off hopeful Pools now switches to replacing the larger than life character, both in the dugout and dressing room, as Cooper’s men gear up for the final surge of the Sky Bet League Two campaign.