NEALE Cooper has this week drawn up a gruelling training schedule geared towards rejuvenating Hartlepool United’s faltering fortunes – and the players’ wives are all part of his master plan.
Days off, for now, have gone – they must be earned, insists the Scot.
The new regime also includes both morning AND afternoon sessions.
And, rather than collect players en route to tomorrow’s game at Colchester United and train nearer to their overnight base, the squad reported to Maiden Castle this morning for a full-scale practice match.
Pools take on the basement boys knowing that defeat would see them slip into the bottom four.
And Cooper believes the only way to resurrect the campaign is through more hard work on the training field, even if it does upset his players’ other halves.
“It’s great having days off, but you have to deserve it, and we haven’t deserved that yet,” Cooper told SportMail.
“If you do well, win games and go about things in the right manner then you get time off with me.
“I just feel that sometimes you need that extra work – it’s not punishment, it’s just to make them stronger and fitter.
“If we were flying there’s no-one as good as me to say ‘well done lads, you deserve that (time off).
“But we have to be out there training right now.”
He added: “If I was a player at this moment in time I’d be looking at it thinking ‘I don’t want to be in on Sunday’ – that’s the reaction I want.
“I’d think ‘I promised to take my wife out today’.
“Next thing she comes to me and I’ve got to say ‘sorry love, I’m training’.
“But then she comes back to me and says ‘well you better well win next week’.
“You’d think ‘well we better win today because my wife is slaughtering me’.”
Cooper himself has taken to the training field this week, and he went on: “I have enjoyed this week with the boys.
“They got hammered on Monday afternoon on the training ground in the pouring rain.
“I took them personally and I got drenched as well.
“We will work them hard again today, which we will do at Maiden Castle.
“We can do what we have to do in terms of a practice match and set-plays and then travel down after that, rather than finding a patch of grass down south somewhere.
“I know some of the lads live a bit further away, but this is their workplace.
“I will try to understand, but I never told the boys to live there, they chose that.
“It’s give and take – and until they give me what I’m after then we have to work harder.
“The sessions are more intense and quite physical.
“It’s not a punishment, we just have to be better.
“I’ve got a great bunch of boys here, I just need a bunch of boys with a winning mentality and a fighting spirit.”