COLIN Cooper has begun the process of making changes to his Hartlepool United squad.
The Pools has yet to announce his retained list – but he will almost certainly be sending out players against Exeter City tomorrow who will NOT be in his plans for the 2014-15 season.
Cooper says that now the club’s Football League status has been secured he has begun the process of refreshing the squad.
While the 47-year-old brought in a number of new players – Jack Compton, Michael Duckworth and Marlon Harewood on permanent deals and six on loan agreements – he inherited stars going as far back as the Chris Turner and Danny Wilson eras.
It is no surprise that Cooper wants to bring in fresh talent, so it should be no shock if several high-profile players – and high earners – are moved on.
“I’ve been waiting a few weeks to do this,” he said.
“I have had a conversation with the chairman and the right thing to do is to start giving people the opportunity to sort their futures by telling them where they stand here.
“I’d like to get it done as soon as I can.
“Players have been knocking on my door for a couple of weeks, but, while we searching for that result we needed, I could not do anything.
“That has happened now.
“I think everyone knows that when I came here everyone was in situ.
“I brought in some players, permanent and on loan, and I’ve been pleased with what I’ve got in.
“The lads who were already here have given me everything.
“But the fact of the matter is things have to change.
“Without giving any names and details, there has to be changes.”
Like any good manager, he was giving away no indications about who will be going through the Victoria Park exit door.
But, given the stretched state of the squad, he will almost certainly be selecting players in his match-day 18 tomorrow who he has already told will be leaving the Vic.
“We have injuries and suspensions so the same group of players who were at Plymouth will be our squad for the Exeter game,” he explained.
There is not a bottomless pit of money at Clarence Road for Cooper so to bring in new blood he must free up some wages.
“You have to be careful,” he said.
“The club’s finances mean there is some balancing to be done.
“But there are things I would like to do, players I would like to bring in and things I would like to change.
“It is no disrespect to anyone – the playing staff needs freshening up.
“That’s part of life, it happens in every club, there will be people leaving and people staying, and we are no different.”
Pools could finish the season anywhere between 14th and 20th – depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s contest with the Grecians.
Cooper has already stated wherever the side ends is not good enough and he is setting the bar higher next time.
“The fact of the matter is, have we kept the ball out of our goal enough?” said the manager.
“We’ve not done too bad,
“Have we scored enough to get amongst things in the top half? No.
“They are two key sides of football – concede less and score more.
“In the divisions with 24 teams you need 50 points to avoid relegation, 70 points for the play-offs and 80 for promotion.
“There’s your three challenges – if you get your 50 quickly you push on to try to get 70 for the play-offs.
“To get above 80 is a big challenge.”
Cooper would love 80-plus and you suspect he’d happily take 70 plus – but to do that he needs to change his squad and that work has already begun.