More players should have left Hartlepool United says Neale Cooper

FORMER BOSS: Neale Cooper

FORMER BOSS: Neale Cooper

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NEALE Cooper believes many of Hartlepool United’s relegated squad have “had their chance” and should be moved on before next season’s assault on League Two.

The Scot resigned as Pools first-team coach in October having seen his side slump to the bottom of League One.

Countryman John Hughes took over the reins but Pools failed to emerge from the drop zone and were last month relegated to the bottom division for the first time in six seasons.

Cooper is still saddened by his second tenure at Victoria Park and hopes to see his former club make a swift return to the third tier.

But for that to happen the 49-year-old believes there should be a freshening up of the playing staff.

“There has to be change – that season just was not good enough,” Cooper told SportMail.

“A lot of them have let the supporters down.

“You need to fight your corner and, over a season, give more than what they did.

“I love that place and it still hurts me now to look back on how it ended.

“John came in after me and I’m sure he’s got a winning mentality and ambition for things to be better.

“But they did not really respond and, in the end, were left relying on other teams, you shouldn’t have to do that.

“They have to build a new team, players there have had their chance.”

It was the absence of fight which irked Cooper the most during his spell.

Come the time of his resignation, he felt that several of the team were no longer playing for him.

And, in League Two, he insists the one characteristic needed above all else is heart.

“They might have to fight their way out of that division next year,” he went on.

“There are still players there who are good enough.

“But you need a team that the fans can get excited about.

“If it means getting in players with that mentality to battle their way out of League Two then they’ll have to do that.

“I really hope they can. The club, the town and the people there mean so much to me.

“I’m sorry it ended like it did, I just hope they can bounce back with promotion next year.”

Cooper’s hopes for a squad overhaul, however, appear slim.

News is still awaited on the future of Sam Collins, Ritchie Humphreys and Andy Monkhouse.

That out-of-contract trio are set for discussions over the coming days with a view to extending their stay at the Vic.

This follows Tuesday’s confirmation that Neil Austin and James Poole would be staying at the club.

Defender Evan Horwood was the only first-team regular among a list of six released players.