‘Scary’ boss Cooper has given Hartlepool hope

Peter Hartley is excited ahead of the new season.
Peter Hartley is excited ahead of the new season.

PETER Hartley has praised his new manager for helping to banish the blues of last season’s relegation – thanks to his ‘scary desire’.

The 25-year-old defender describes boss Colin Cooper and his assistant Craig Hignett as “different class” as they aim to get promoted from League Two at the first time of asking.

Pools were relegated to the fourth tier of English football at the end of last season but Hartley says there is fresh optimism amongst the players ahead of the new campaign, which kicks off at Rochdale tomorrow.

Key to that optimism is new manager Cooper, who took over the reins from John Hughes in the summer for his first full-time job as a manager.

Hartley, who has been moved out to left-back under Cooper, said: “The new manager is really hungry to succeed as a manager and you can see it through the players.

“His desire is scary and he is installing that in the lads.

“What has happened to Hartlepool United has happened and that has gone, this is the Hartlepool United under Colin Cooper now and he wants to make his mark as a manager.

“I want to go with him, I’m jumping on that train, because if he takes off without you, you ain’t going with him and he is going to leave you behind.”

Hartley said Cooper, a former defender with Middlesbrough, Millwall, Nottingham Forest and England, has helped get rid of the relegation hangover from the end of last season.

He added: “He is so enthusiastic every day and every single training session you can take something from it and you enjoy it.

“You get in the car, I drive with Antony Sweeney, and you say “It was good today wasn’t it? ‘Yeah, yeah it was good’.”

“You are talking about the session and you don’t even realise you are doing it.

“And then you are at home and realise you’ve talked about football for 20 minutes and been training for two hours.

“It is brilliant and you are just learning every day.

“You see he is trying to do things the right way and as I said earlier, you just want to get on that train.”

Hartley is also keen to learn as much as he can from Cooper, who played at the very highest level, winning two caps for England in 1995.

Hartley said: “Higgy works with the attackers because he was a creative midfielder and the gaffer played for England.

“What more do you want?

“You just take as much as you can from them and soak up everything he tries to teach you and put it into practice on the pitch.

“He wants you to go out there and play with no fear and just believe in what he is trying to do and believe in yourself and anything can happen.”

And according to Hartley, the manager’s message to his players is simple.

Hartley said: “Play with a purpose, obviously don’t play crazy stupid football, but believe that you can do something, believe that you can succeed and really grab hold of what you want to do in the future.

“Because it is a short career and goes like that.

“I’m 25 now, this is my fifth season and I feel like I have blinked.

“It is unbelievable.”