NEALE Cooper has vowed to fight on amid criticism from sections of the Hartlepool United supporters – but insists his players owe him more.
The Scot again felt let down by several of his men during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Crawley Town, a result which leaves Pools six points from safety heading into tomorrow’s crunch clash at bottom club Bury.
For the first time this season groans of discontent could clearly be heard emanating from the home crowd.
Cooper accepts that complaint and insists he has no issue with fans who voice their concern.
He, too, shares their frustration and believes his Pools players owe more than they are currently giving to himself, his coaching team and the club’s followers, warning that some of them could slip away from the professional game.
“We (the coaching staff) come in every day to try and lift the boys and we do – the staff don’t go around with sad faces,” said Cooper, whose side remain second from bottom in League One after a 10th straight game without victory.
“But Micky (Barron) said to them that it’s about time they gave us a lift.
“It’s hard every day to come in bright and bubbly.
“At times we need them to lift us and get us going.
“It’s about having bottle and working hard.
“They can do more than they are right now and it’s a confidence thing with a lot of them.
“But if they want to be driving about in big, fancy cars they need to go and perform.
“I’m not naming names, but they have come in from big clubs and where do they go from here?
“This should be a stepping stone to get back up there, a platform to get somewhere.
“I’ve put my arms around their shoulders, some boys don’t like it when you are shouting at them so it’s been personal with them.
“But we’re not getting a reaction from some of them.”
And, of the supporter unrest, Cooper went on: “The crowd had a go at me and that’s fine.
“They have every right to slaughter us, but they have supported us so well and the players have to realise that.
“They gave us great backing again on Saturday and we have to give them something back and soon.
“I said to the players, ‘the fans have every right to kill you, but they haven’t’.
“They can have a go at me, that’s the nature of the beast, but I need to see more from the players right now.”