Sweeney: Cooper is the man to take Hartlepool Utd to next level

Tony Sweeney cuts inside of an Oldham midfield player. Picture by FRANK REID
Tony Sweeney cuts inside of an Oldham midfield player. Picture by FRANK REID

ANTONY Sweeney is convinced that Hartlepool United have the right man to take them to the “next level” in League One.

Neale Cooper is now in the midst of his summer rebuild at Victoria Park having released seven players from the club and brought in Jonathan Franks from Middlesbrough.

And Sweeney is excited by the manager’s plans, insisting his enthusiasm is enough to get the best out of any set of players.

“I’m sure the manager has his plans in place for who he wants to come in,” said the midfielder, who again finished the season as top marksman following his nine-goal return.

“He’s been brilliant since he came back in and he’s got that enthusiasm which players love, but he obviously wants to change a few things and it’s always an exciting time.

“I imagine it will be a different-looking squad next year and hopefully it will be one which allows us to make that step up to the next level.

“We’ve been comfortable in this division for a good few years now and it’s probably time we had a look about the league and said ‘why can’t we challenge at the top?’.

“We should have done that this season really.”

Cooper replaced Mick Wadsworth as boss in December with the former first-team coach paying the price for seven straight home defeats, which later stretched to nine.

The larger-than-life Scot was an instant hit in the dressing room, although he has shown a less-tolerant side to his character since and criticised his players towards the end of the campaign.

But Sweeney says that Cooper makes the working environment a happy one to be around.

“Neale came in and made a difference, that’s nothing degrading against Mick Wadsworth, they are just two totally different people and football managers,” said the 28-year-old.

“I got on, like the majority of the lads, really well with Mick.

“Neale is big on making the club and the training ground an enjoyable place to go to work.

“He wants the town to have that feel-good factor as well.

“And when that happens then you can feel a difference – it’s a happier place and you can go to the shops without getting stick as well, which is always a bonus!”

Meanwhile, Pools fans have upped the pace in the summer Season Ticket drive with sales now quickly approaching the 1,400 mark.

The club passed the first major milestone last week when the 1,000th Season Ticket was sold.

And now almost 400 have been snapped up to take the current running total to 1,378.

The amazing Season Ticket offer sees adult fans able to watch the full campaign for just £155, while Senior Citizens pay only £125, Under 19s get in for the year for £75 and Under 16s an incredible £50!

It’s the second year running that Pools have come up with a tempting offer, having mounted an award-winning campaign which sold nearly 6,000 Season Tickets last summer.