HARTLEPOOL boss Colin Cooper is under no illusions as to the challenge facing him this summer – and he admits jobs are on the line if things don’t improve next season.
The 47-year-old admitted admit after defeat to Exeter that if Pools finish in the same position next season he is unlikely to still have a job.
And he told his players that they too are facing the most important summer of their careers because he won’t be accepting second best.
Saturday’s defeat at Victoria Park saw Pools complete the Sky Bet League Two campaign in 19th place.
Cooper said: “I won’t accept what has happened and if the players want to accept that, then they and I won’t be here in 12 months’ time.
“I certainly intend to be here, because I want to work very hard at this job.
“If players don’t want to work as hard as me, then they won’t be here.”
This has been his first season as a manager and Cooper insists he has enjoyed it immensely but Saturday’s flat performance left him fuming.
Cooper added: “I think it’s fair to say this football club has stuttered and stalled for a number of seasons now.
“It’s my job to try and stop that and find the answers and solutions.
“Next season can’t be like this season – either for the players or for me.
“I enjoy this job immensely but if we finish 19th in League Two next year then I won’t be here – I’m fully aware of that.
“I’ve told the players this is the most important summer of their football careers because I will not be accepting mediocrity.”
Pools were 2-0 down by the interval after a performance lacking passion and energy – and it got no better in the second half.
Jimmy Keohane opened the scoring in the 29th minute, curling a right-footed shot over Scott Flinders and in off the crossbar.
Two minutes before th break it was effectively game over, David Wheeler taking a long ball past the onrushing Flinders before rolling it into the net.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Holden, Collins, Harrison, Duckworth, Compton, Oliver (Hawkins 80), Walker, Poole, Harewood, Franks (Smith 81). Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Rowbotham, Richards, Jones, James.
Exeter: Pyn, Dawson (Gosling 77), Moore-Taylor, Tillson, Woodman, Wheeler, Grimes, Gill (Watkins 77), Sercombe (Jay 46), Bennett, Keohane. Subs Not Used: Krysiak, Butterfield, Baldwin, Nichols. Goals: Keohane 25, Wheeler 44.
Att: 4,710 Ref: Darren Deadman