Pools management duo ‘wipe slate clean’ with relegated players

Hartlepool United assistant manager Craig Hignett taking training. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool United assistant manager Craig Hignett taking training. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper and Craig Hignett have “wiped the slate clean” at Hartlepool United – but they won’t accept anything less than 100 per cent from the players.

The new managerial duo have started their first full week in charge of Pools and tomorrow take the squad to the Netherlands for their pre-season tour.

Pools play Almere on Thursday evening and Telstar on Saturday and Hignett says the Holland trip is the perfect launchpad for the League Two season – and to bury the last bitter memories of relegation.

“There can’t be any hangover, that’s for sure, what’s gone is gone,” Hignett said.

“Everyone here now starts with a clean slate.

“We are not going to judge anyone on what happened last year.

“All people will be judged on is what we have seen from day one.

“We’ve got the Holland trip which will give us the chance to see the players and learn a little bit more about them.

“The tour comes at the right time and will be good for all of us to get to know each other a little bit better.

“Hopefully what happened last season will drive the players on.

“I’ve been involved in teams before who have been relegated and it’s a horrible feeling.

“You don’t want to feel like that too often.”

Cooper and Hignett have made a positive start, delivering a presentation to the players on the first day before launching a busy and rigorous pre-season training programme.

Hard work will be followed by more hard work and Hignett says the attitude and application of the players are all-important facets.

“Pre-season will be tough, we’ve made no bones about it,” said the 43-year-old former Boro legend.

“We had a meeting with the players and let them know what we expected from them as a management.

“It was really about being professional, having standards and taking pride in what you do every day and giving your best.

“That is the minimum we expect.

“Looking at the lads and the shape they have come back in is really impressive.

“We’ve had a really good couple of days and were very pleased with what we saw. The application has been there.”

Togetherness is also a vital ingredient to success and Hignett believes the trip to Holland will certainly help in that regard.

The assistant boss has first-hand experience of Pools and the once-famed team spirit which was a feature at the Vic throughout the ‘noughties’.

“I was here when Pools went 20-odd games unbeaten and won promotion under Danny Wilson,” said the Scouser.

“Danny was really good to work for, another very good manager.

“I know what this place is like when you get going and the team spirit is right.

“Everyone knows what they are doing, there is a way of playing, there is a common goal and everyone is pulling in the same direction.

“I don’t think that has happened last year.

“But it will this year.”