Cooper not solely responsible for Pools’ plight, says caretaker

Sam Collins
Sam Collins
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SAM Collins insists everyone has to take responsibility for Hartlepool United’s poor start to the season – not just former manager Colin Cooper.

The 37-year-old player-coach has been drafted in as caretaker boss after Cooper resigned on Saturday night, with Pools bottom of League Two after a 3-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Carlisle.

Collins is in the manager’s hotseat for the interim, alongside Stephen Pears, but former Carlisle manager Graham Kavanagh has held talks with the Victoria Park club about taking over for a short-term period, believed to be four weeks.

The 40-year-old ex-Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder was again in the crowd at Victoria Park for Tuesday night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy loss to Sheffield United, while Hartlepool-born Mark Venus, a former Pools defender and Middlesbrough coach, is also in contention for a short-term appointment and was also at the cup match.

Kavanagh remains the firm favourite, though.

But Collins did his chances of being in charge for longer no harm after his young side produced an impressive performance against the Blades.

“We are in the position we are in for a reason,” said Collins, with Pools having won just twice in 11 league games this term, scoring just five goals in the process.

“It is not just Colin Cooper’s fault, that is for certain.

“We can’t change that now, but what we can do is make something happen and that is us getting up that league.

“There are still a lot of games left to play and points to play for and we have to do it now.”

The veteran defender confirmed he hadn’t spoken with Cooper before Tuesday’s match, but he said he will be making contact with his former manager.

Collins added: “I will definitely speak to him because I have a lot of respect for the guy.

“I didn’t before the game because it is still early after what happened.

“I will definitely keep in contact with him though but I haven’t done that yet.”

Chairman Ken Hodcroft said earlier this week that the club would not be rushing into replacing Cooper on a permanent basis, in line with their usual process.

But Kavanagh lives at Wynyard and has been a regular spectator at Pools matches this season, and will have a good knowledge of the players.

Former Scunthorpe and Burnley boss Brian Laws has already confirmed he is interested in the “challenge” at Pools, while several other names remain in the frame.

They include Mark Proctor, former Pools players Nicky Southall and Graeme Lee – now a coach at Middlesbrough, Romanian Csaba László, who is a former Hearts manager, and former Carlisle boss Gregg Abbott, currently number two at Notts County to Shaun Derry.

The pair have just signed new contracts at Meadow Lane, but Abbott may be tempted with the vacant manager’s post at Pools.