NEALE Cooper insists he will forgive his players a lacklustre first performance of the summer – but will nonetheless demand better as pre-season progresses.
The Scot cut a frustrated figure at times during last night’s 2-0 defeat to Dutch Second Sivision outfit, Telstar, in Heiloo.
The hosts were unarguably the superior side for the majority of a well-contested affair, settled with a goal in each half from Rhys Murphy, formerly of Arsenal, and Jergé Hoefdraad.
Cooper handed debuts to close-season signings Simon Walton, Steve Howard and Jonathan Franks, but they, like their new team-mates, struggled to suppress the ball-playing hosts.
The Pools boss was a little surprised at what he labeled “fatigue” among his men, and while they returned to their team base minus an ear-bashing, Cooper will let them know that certain standards must improve in the coming weeks.
“Listen, I won’t blast the boys, definitely not, it’s all part of pre-season, games such as that,” the first-team coach told SportMail today. “We’ll chat about it among ourselves and see what we feel.
“But I just thought it looked like a lot of them needed the game and others, the ones who have been flying in pre-season, looked really tired.
“That’s maybe because they worked extremely hard in the morning. I’m not making excuses and I have to admit that they were a lot brighter than us.
“We started well enough but then got very sloppy and started giving the ball away.
“The problems we caused were down to ourselves and I just thought everyone looked a bit fatigued.
“We were off the pace and they just looked brighter and sharper.
“We just couldn’t get close enough to them and that was a bit disappointing at times.”
Cooper and his squad have been in Holland since Friday and will now face Almere City on Wednesday.
It promises to be another stern test, but the 48-year-old insists he would not have it any other way.
“This is all part of the training don’t forget, and I’d rather play a team like that (Telstar) than a team you can wallop 6-0,” he said. “That’s what teams do sometimes and you get a false picture.
“At least after that we probably know where we are and some of the lads probably need a little bit of work.
“There’s four weeks before the season starts and that’s what you’d expect.
“But there were one or two things in the game which weren’t good enough and they will have to improve regardless.”
Cooper, though, was pleased to get a good hour into Howard and Walton.
“For Simon and Steve to get an extra 15 minutes was important but they looked a bit tired, too,” he said. “But they’ll come on for that and I thought they both did well.”