COLIN Cooper will produce his highest possible standards at Hartlepool United.
And he does not expect his players to follow suit. He will be demanding it.
Cooper spent two decades as a top-drawer defender, whether that was full-back or centre-half, for Middlesbrough, Millwall, Nottingham Forest and (very briefly) Sunderland.
The twice-capped England international has carried the same work ethic he showed as a player into his role as a coach at the Boro Academy.
And he has promised more of the same at Victoria Park where he will not accept anything less than 100 per cent effort and excellence from the players.
“I set high standards and I expect high standards from them,” said the 46-year-old.
“I want the players to understand what it takes to be a top-class professional.
“No matter what level you play at that’s what you have to aspire to.”
Cooper “learned” such traits when he was a young defender back in the mid to late 1980s from then Boro boss Bruce Rioch.
The Scot ruled Ayresome Park with an iron fist but his approach paid off as Boro won back-to-back promotions to reach the top flight.
And Cooper says he and assistant Craig Hignett will be “expecting” nothing but the best attitude and application from the Pools squad.
“I don’t think it matters what level you are playing at, if you are happy with 70 per cent then you are not doing yourself justice,” Cooper told SportMail.
“Me and Craig managed to play at a good level for a long time because of standards.
“OK, there was an element of technical ability, but it’s also down to your work rate and work ethic.
“Players have to realise they will be working hard from day one and we’ll be expecting a high level of professionalism.
“Allied to that the players have talent and we have to ensure that talent flourishes.
“That can only happen if they are in very good physical condition and they are setting their own standards very high.
“If they do that we’ll back them all the way.
“If people don’t want to set high standards then we’ll have a problem.”
SEE Tuesday’s Mail for full story