TOMORROW night Hartlepool United host Sheffield United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
The Blades are of course managed by Nigel Clough, son of legendary manager Brian Clough who is sadly no longer with us.
What Pools would give now to have Clough Snr, a former boss at Victoria Park, back in the dugout to get the club out of this almighty mess.
Bottom of the Football League. Just two wins all season and just eight wins this calendar year.
2014 has been a depressing one for Pools fans but sadly the rot goes back much further than January 1.
There is now, though, a very real threat that Pools could drop out of the Football League altogether.
Something had to give.
That something was Colin Cooper offering his resignation, knowing he could take the team no further.
For that he should be applauded but the test now is to find someone who can keep Pools up this season and performing on a consistent basis.
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 Carlisle defeat was the final straw.
Not long after the first goal went in, a large number of Pools fans turned and vented their anger at the man in the dugout – ‘Cooper Out, Cooper Out’ was the chant.
Struggling Pools had made Keith Curle’s side look like world beaters 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.
And after 16 months in the job, that was that.
It was a sad end to Cooper’s tenure. At times last season his side flirted with the play-offs before a dramatic fall saw them brush with relegation.
Some say things started falling apart when Craig Hignett left for Boro and the fact that no attacking coach was brought in, others blame Cooper for his signings, decisions on match day and a heavy reliance on signing Boro players.
The protracted departure of Luke James didn’t help matters.
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 James, although they argue that is coming in instalments.
Everyone has to take their share of the blame – the players included.
They have often talked highly of their former manager but they were unable to back those words up with consistent performances on the pitch for him.
Some of them have let him down badly but it is Cooper that has taken responsibility.
Popular and well respected at the club, Cooper is a decent, hard working, honest man and I had the pleasure of spending some time with the coaching staff at their Spanish base in pre-season. Although he may have kept the media waiting after games, the staff raved about him but the brief club statement 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 and I can’t think of a harder one in the Football League. 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.
A quick appointment is needed, an experienced manager from outside, 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.
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.