HARTLEPOOL United boss Neale Cooper is relishing going head to head with Paolo Di Canio.
The fixture computer has thrown up a battle of two of football’s charasmatic bosses after Pools were matched with promoted Swindon Town on the opening day of the League One programme.
Pools will tackle last season’s runaway League Two champions on Saturday, August 18 – although the programme will open seven days earlier against another promoted club, Crewe Alexandra, in the Capital One Cup.
Cooper though said he was pleased to start the club’s sixth straight season in English football’s third tier with such an exciting showdown, which is followed by a difficult midweek trip to promotion hopefuls Notts County and a visit to Leyton Orient on August 25.
“It is going to be a difficult game to start the league season with,” Cooper told SportMail.
“Paolo di Canio had a fantastic first season – Swindon were excellent. He is a character and he’s very passionate about his team and his football.
“We are both passionate guys – as long as we don’t have a fight on the touchline!
“It will be a big game and a probably a big crowd and I’m sure there will be a lot of media interest especially with it being Paolo’s first game having come up a league.
“I don’t know Paolo but I have been in his company before and he seems like a nice guy and it will be good to welcome him to the Vic.”
But it is only part of a demanding opening month, which includes three awaydays, an avenue which was very profitable for Pools who collected 32 points last time around compared to only 24 at home.
“It’s a tricky start,” said the Scot. “We have Crewe in the cup and then we’re away after the Swindon game, at Notts County and Leyton Orient.”