NEALE Cooper admits that Hartlepool United Player of the Season Paul Murray deserved his new deal at Victoria Park.
The 35-year-old was one of a dozen players whose contracts were up for renewal this month.
And despite taking the supporters’ star-player prize following another dependable campaign, his future was uncertain.
But Cooper last week rewarded Murray with a one-year deal, and he told SportMail it was only fair that the anchorman won his extension.
“Paul thoroughly deserved a new deal,” the Scot told us today.
“He’s done very well for me since I came back to the club in December.
“In fact, people tell me that he’s been better for me than he was in the first half of the season.
“You know what you’re getting from Paul.
“And as a manager that is what you want above anything else.
“He’s hit a level of consistency and has done well.”
Murray turns 36 in August and, at the start of this season, there remained concerns over his ability to play back-to-back matches on a Saturday and Tuesday.
However, the Cumbrian allayed those fears by appearing in all but three of Pools’ 49 matches this term.
And Cooper went on: “He’s not getting any younger, of course, but he keeps battling on and hardly ever misses a match.
“He obviously looks after himself but we still have to manage him correctly and be careful.
“His attitude and approach to the game, in training and matches, is first class and he really is a terrific example for any young player coming through.
“And if we can get another season out of Paul like we just have done then I’ll be delighted.”
Meanwhile, news is still awaited today on the future of Gary Liddle and Ritchie Humphreys.
Both players were in the same boat as Murray last week but there has been no confirmation from the club on their status.