COLIN Cooper has “loved” his first season as a manager and has made no secret that he wants and expects to do better next time around.
Hartlepool United started the season poorly – eight games before a win – and ended it just as badly when a run of six straight defeats saw them fall from the outskirts of the play-offs to being in danger of relegation.
In between, there were plenty of wins and promise, and Cooper would doubtless love that form extended over the 2014-15 season.
Hence the need for Cooper to “freshen up” the Pools squad.
And he is prepared to do it his way and is ready to stand or fall by his decisions.
“It’s been a season of everything for me,” he explained.
“You try to stamp your philosophy on things and I’ve tried to do that.
“We’ve had some really good times.
“There have been ups and downs, but that’s the case everywhere.
“I believe in what I do.
“I will make mistakes and make decisions people won’t like.
“I have to accept that and I get booed and harangued, but it’s about decisions that will benefit your club and your team.
“So I feel, while sometimes people won’t agree with what I’m doing, the decision-making will dictate whether I am any good at this or not longer-term.
“I feel I have got more things right than wrong this season, but I have made mistakes.
“I have broad shoulders and can take the flak.
“I would like to feel that what I am doing is coming to fruition and it’s my job to add to it going into next season.
“If it makes us better then that’s the plan, I may mess things up, I accept that – and if I make more mess-ups than good decisions then I won’t be here next year!
“But I have loved it.”
Cooper’s managerial skills have been tested throughout his 10 months in the job, but especially the last dozen games.
The 47-year-old, from Trimdon, has been minus an assistant since Craig Hignett quit to become Aitor Karanka’s number two at Middlesbrough in March.
“It has been a bit different scenario since Craig left,” said Cooper.
“But hopefully that’s going to be addressed pretty quickly, over the next week or two.
“Then I can plan how to start the 2014-15 season and get everything in place – the staff, the post-season and pre-season fitness programmes, and all the organising the job needs.”
Cooper has stayed strong to his footballing beliefs – and always tried to play the game the right way while trying to maintain a defensive discipline.
“It’s about the two boxes,” said Cooper. “It’s about keeping the ball out of your goal and being creative in the other box.
“How you go about it between the two boxes is your philosophy.
“It’s not always going to be perfect, but you try your best to play the sort of football you believe in.
“All the managers and coachesI’ve played under, bar one, have all taught about passing the ball on the grass, and that’s what I’ve tried to do here.”