ONSIDE: What next for Hartlepool United?

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WHAT next for Hartlepool United?

The popular Scot at least leaves the club with his dignity intact, falling on his sword when there is still time for the club to escape relegation to League Two.

Neale Cooper shouts instruction from the sidelines during the defeat to Bury. Picture by FRANK REID

Neale Cooper shouts instruction from the sidelines during the defeat to Bury. Picture by FRANK REID

At the end of the day, results matter and with a record of just seven wins from 39 games, Cooper’s second reign at the Vic never really got going.

This season, which promised so much with the summer signing of frontman Steve Howard, has fallen way short of expectations.

For Cooper, the writing has been on the wall for the past few weeks after a string of woeful performances, including Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Bury.

A rallying final 20 minutes was far too little, too late and the players have to share responsibility for the departure of Cooper.

The defeat saw Pools fall to the bottom of League One, without a win in 12 games.

Not many managers can survive that and, to his credit, Cooper took full responsibility in the best interests of the club.

He will be sadly missed by fans for his honest – at times brutally honest – approach to management.

Perhaps, looking back, he may well regret his threat to show players the door after the opening day hammering away to Crewe.

Was it too early to come out with statements like that? Either way, it didn’t get the reaction he wanted and Pools have only won one game since.

In his defence, Pools have been struck down with injuries to key players in recent weeks.

But before that, Cooper would often chop and change his team every week, which clearly didn’t help the side build an understanding.

The players now have to stand up and be counted and show that they still want to play for this club and want to wear the shirt with pride.

A Pools statement said: “The club wishes to thank Neale for his commitment and dedication, and wishes him every success in his return to Scotland.”

I think every Pools fan would agree with that.

It is now over to Micky Barron, who takes over the reins for Saturday’s trip to Brentford at the very least.

Pools need a fresh approach if they are to get out of this relegation battle and a full-time appointment needs to be made quickly - otherwise it could be too late.

- Richard Mennear