TOWN dignatories and Hartlepool United supporters were sad to see Neale Cooper quit but admitted his departure was inevitable.
The club announced Cooper’s resignation last night after a series of dismal results left Pools at the bottom of League One and facing relegation.
In a statement, released through the club, Cooper said he had enjoyed his time at Victoria Park, but it was in their best interests if he stood down as first team coach.
Fans said they were sorry to see him go and wished him well, while Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said Cooper will always be remembered as “one of the greats”.
Sky Sports presenter and Pools fan Jeff Stelling, was told Cooper had resigned just moments before he went on air to present the Champions League coverage last night.
He told the Mail: “I’m sorry to see him go because he is a top man, but it just wasn’t working out.”
Pauline McSweenie, secretary of Hartlepool United Supporters’ Club, said: “It just hasn’t worked out this time. I think it’s sad that it has ended up this way after the high he was on last time.
“I don’t know who to bring in but it needs to be very quickly.
“But I’m very disappointed to see him go and wish him all the best.”
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said he was thoroughly disappointed that Cooper had parted company with the club.
He said: “Neale is one of the most successful managers in the club’s history.
“I know Neale well and he is a fantastic bloke.
“But results haven’t gone our way this season and it’s the nature of football for the manager to carry the can.
“I think the players need to have a good look at themselves.
“But Neale will always be remembered as one of the all-time greats.”
Town MP Iain Wright, said: “I think given the form and how poor performances have been this season, it was inevitable.
“That fact that it mattered so much to Cooper and how determined he was to turn it around shows how much the club means to him.”
Both Mayor Drummond and Mr Wright say there is no obvious choice as to who will replace Cooper.
Mayor Drummond said: “Obviously it’s down to the chairman, but I would like to see someone who is well-established in the game who has good contacts.”
Mr Wright added: “I can’t think of any managers at this level who are available at the minute, there are no obvious candidates.
“But I do think that it’s quite a poor league.
“We are still on the right side of Christmas and it wouldn’t take much to turn it around.”
Neil Appleyard, chairman of Hartlepool United Disabled Supporters’ Association (HUDSA), said: “I’m very sad about the whole situation.
“I think Neale Cooper will be held in high regard in Hartlepool with all the things he did for the club.
“He was a very passionate person, he likes the town and the football club, but unfortunately things haven’t gone the way we would have liked them to.
“It’s just a shame it’s happened, but that’s football.”