Hartlepool Utd players must take blame for manager’s departure

Antony Sweeney in action against Brentford. Picture by FRANK REID
Antony Sweeney in action against Brentford. Picture by FRANK REID

ANTONY Sweeney insists the players must shoulder responsibility for Neale Cooper’s resignation as manager.

The 29-year-old was as close to the Scot as any in the Pools dressing room and was saddened to see him last week call time on his second spell at the club.

“It was difficult to see Neale go,” said Sweeney, who played under Cooper during his first spell at Victoria Park.

“I know he was getting a bit of stick around the town and he wasn’t himself the last few weeks, that was hard to see.

“We have to take most of the blame for that because we’re the lads on the pitch.

“Not that anyone was performing badly to see the back of him – far from it.

“He’s a really nice fella and I’ve been in contact with him and he’s wished us all the best.”

But, as is the way in football, Cooper’s departure has opened the door for caretaker Micky Barron to press his claims for the permanent role.

“Hopefully now it’s a fresh start for Micky as his own man,” Sweeney continued, “He’s in the job at the moment and we’ll try our best to see what we can do for him.

“I know Micky well and I hope for his sake and ours that he can do well.”

But Barron’s decision to wear a suit and tie for last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Brentford, rather than his usual tracksuited approach, did cause a stir on the Pools team bus.

“He got a bit of stick from the lads on the way to the game,” laughed Sweeney.

“He wore that suit for a wedding we were at during the summer and he still had some of the stuff from that in there on Saturday.

“It’s never been out since, but he looked the part and I think he enjoyed it and it was a decent start for just having a couple of days in charge.”

Tomorrow’s trip to Chesterfield in the first round of the FA Cup offers a timely distraction to a league campaign which sees Pools bottom of League One at the third-way marker.

And Sweeney went on: “It will be nice to get through and I think the chairman will say that as well, especially for the money it generates.

“We’ve seen throughout the years that cup runs get you firing in the league and we’ll take whatever confidence we can take from that into the league.”