Neale Cooper warns that no-one is safe from axe at Hartlepool United

KEEPING HIS EYES OPEN: Neale Cooper. Picture by FRANK REID
KEEPING HIS EYES OPEN: Neale Cooper. Picture by FRANK REID

NEALE Cooper has warned that no-one is safe from the axe at Hartlepool United.

As a player, the Pools boss was a product of Sir Alex Ferguson’s old-school environment at Aberdeen in the mid 1980s, an era when any notion of squad rotation was still a long way off.

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Cooper was brought up on the ethos of winning and losing your place in the team, and that is the mentality he wants to instil at Victoria Park.

“Players knock on your door and they want an opportunity, that’s fair enough and I encourage that,” said Cooper, with preparations continuing for Saturday’s visit of Scunthorpe United.

“Okay then, take your opportunity and play your way into the team.

“In my day, that’s what you had to do.

“But then you can play your way out of the team as well.

“Just because you’re back in doesn’t mean you’ll stay there.

“If you get your opportunity then grab it – I know I would.”

Cooper went on: “We haven’t got too many options when it comes to changing things, but anyone who isn’t doing it will be told so.

“This means too much to myself and the supporters.

“I need winners in there and that means boys showing me that they deserve to be in the team in the first place and, once they’re in, doing enough to stay there.”

Already this week the Scot has demanded a major improvement from summer signing Simon Walton.

And now the Pools chief has called on forward James Poole – substituted at half-time in the 2-0 defeat at Notts County – to prove that he deserves a run in the side.

“James Poole is still a young lad and you’ll have bad games,” Cooper said.

“But two Saturdays ago (against Swindon) he was so positive, making runs and getting in-behind Steve.

“I never saw that once at Notts County and I think ‘why?’.

“He was just jogging about.

“It goes back to what I said – get an opportunity and make sure you take it.”