ANDY Monkhouse believes that the biggest challenge facing Hartlepool United is to rid themselves of the losing mentality which plagued last season.
Pools lost exactly half of their 46 league matches last term as they were demoted to the bottom tier for the first time in six years.
They began this campaign in similar fashion, losing their three opening games.
But a draw at York City on Saturday brought that run to an end and, according to Monkhouse, lifted the dressing-room gloom which has long since lingered.
“The dressing-room was happier on Saturday,” the long-serving Pools man told SportMail in a typically candid interview.
“You can get used to losing games, the same as you can winning.
“Maybe we got a bit too used to losing.
“So if people’s mentality can change then we can start looking up.
“That’s probably the biggest challenge we’ve got as a group.”
He went on: “The gaffer (Colin Cooper) hasn’t really mentioned last season, he wants to put that to bed.
“It’s gone, we’re in this league for a reason, we weren’t good enough last year, but now we’ve got to do something about it.
“That means looking forward, not back.”
And that means looking ahead to Saturday’s visit of Fleetwood Town.
Cooper, as Monkhouse alluded to, has gone to great lengths to banish all talk of “last season”.
And the forward says the new manager has harnessed a unity in the Pools camp.
“We’re a good bunch with a good manager,” he said.
“The gaffer and Higgy (Craig Hignett) are very organised compared to previous regimes.
“We all know what we’re doing.
“They want us to believe in what they’re saying.
“We need to work hard and keep believing in each other.
“We’re only three games in, it’s not a major problem.
“The spirit is there.
“We took a battering last season but we’ve got to stick together and we’ll get through it.”