SOMETHING had to give.
Hartlepool United are bottom of the Football League with just eight points out of a possible 33, with a goal difference of -12 and just five league goals scored all season.
The humiliating 3-0 defeat to Carlisle United - who were bottom going into Saturday’s match - was the final straw for many Pools fans.
It has been a miserable and depressing start to the season.
Not long after the first goal went in against Carlisle, a large number of Pools fans turned and vented their anger at the man in the dugout.
‘Cooper Out, Cooper Out’ was the chant from the home supporters fed up with life at Victoria Park.
Struggling Pools had made Keith Curle’s side look like world beaters at times in the second-half and in truth it could easily have been more than 3-0.
At the final whistle Cooper marched off down the tunnel and handed in his notice, almost immediately to the club’s chairman Ken Hodcroft, who was watching on from the stands.
And after 18-months in the job at Pools, that was that.
It was a sad end to Cooper’s tenure at Pools. At times last season his side flirted with the play-offs before a dramatic fall saw them brush with relegation.
That form crept over into this season and whoever comes in now as manager has one hell of a job on their hands to keep Pools in the Football League.
Some say things started falling apart when Craig Hignett left for the assistant manager’s job at Boro and the fact that no attacking coach was brought in, others blame Cooper for his signings and decisions on match day.
A large portion of the Pools support blame the owners IOR for a perceived lack of investment and for not re-investing the money from the sale of Jack Baldwin and Luke James, although they argue that money wasn’t a cash lump sum but coming in instalments.
Everyone has to take their share of the blame - the players included with many of them not being up to scratch this season.
But at the end of the day it is Cooper that has taken responsibility.
Popular and well respected at the club, Cooper is a decent, hard working, honest man but the brief statement from the club said it all.
It read “the 47-year-old made the decision he had taken the club as far as he could”.
Soon, it will be up to someone else to take the mantle of the Pools job and I can’t think of a harder one in the Football League at the moment.
The squad is lacking in confidence, goals, creativity and quality but further additions will most likely have to wait until a new manager is in place.
With the owner’s track record of going through a due process that could take weeks.
A quick appointment is needed, an experienced manager from outside the club, who can galvanise the players and fans alike.
For this is arguably the most important appointment in the history of the club with the fear of relegation hanging over.
The impossible job?
Not quite, there are still plenty of games left to play and things can turn around quickly as Carlisle have shown winning two on the bounce under new manager Keith Curle.
But time is running out and the club desperately needs to get this decision right and to bring in new permanent signings.
Or the threat of relegation could soon become a harsh reality.
- RICHARD MENNEAR