NEALE Cooper has threatened his Hartlepool United players with the exit door – five days before a League football is even due to be kicked.
The Pools boss – seething in the wake of Saturday’s Capital One Cup humiliation at Crewe Alexandra – has promised to get shot of any players who were not shamed and left distraught following the 5-0 drubbing.
Cooper tore into his side at both half-time and after the game at Gresty Road as a shambolic defensive showing got the campaign off to the worst possible start.
Despite his shock, the straight-talking Scot certainly wasn’t lost for words when he spoke to SportMail today, and he had this warning for his men.
“They have got to hurt after that – it was embarrassing,” he sounded.
“I’m hurting, the fans are hurting and if they don’t hurt then they can get lost.
“I’ve told them – I don’t want boys like that here.
“Some boys did not turn up.
“And if that didn’t hurt them afterwards in that changing room then they can come and see me – see you later, honestly.
“I’m furious and they got it with both barrels because that’s what they deserved – it was garbage.
“I’m the first to praise them and I look after them.
“But they should not be playing football if they’re not embarrassed by that performance.”
However, the reality is, as Cooper told us last Friday, his hands are tied when it comes to manoeuvring his squad, meaning he’ll have to work with what he’s got going into the League One season-opener at home to Swindon Town this weekend.
The 48-year-old admits he did not anticipate such a catastrophic performance and had been looking forward to a positive start to the season.
“I’m devastated because I was really looking forward to it,” he said.
“I went down full of optimism because we’d looked good and I did not see that coming at all.
“They’ve done well over pre-season, but that doesn’t matter, this is our bread and butter and that just was not acceptable.”
Meanwhile, Kilmarnock have shown an interest in taking striker Colin Nish on a season-long loan and Cooper is likely to welcome such a move.