NEALE Cooper has admitted that his return as Hartlepool United manager was as much a shock to him as it was to everybody else.
The 48-year-old walked through the Victoria Park gates this week for his second stint at the helm, six-and-a-half years after leaving the club.
“I did not see this day coming, although I would have liked it to,” he said. “It came entirely out of the blue, but it is a wonderful Christmas present.”
Revealing the circumstances around his appointment, Cooper explained: “I had a call from a reporter as I was walking my dog in the park in Aberdeen, saying that bookies were taking bets on me.
“It was total news to me, and there had been no contact at all at that stage. I then drafted a letter to the club throwing my hat in the ring.
“I had a meeting, and it has all been very quick. From that initial meeting to being appointed happened in days, and I was delighted to be asked to come down again. I always had a really good bond with the supporters, and luckily I have been given this chance.
“I cannot say how grateful I am for the opportunity, and I am totally focused now on what is needed for the players. I will be a support for them if I can be, and I feel really positive that we can give that spirit back to the side.”
With Pool sat 12th out of the 24 teams in League One ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Sheffield United, chief executive Russ Green said: “Neale is probably in a unique situation as a manager coming into a club.
“Usually you are bottom of the league, fighting fires and with the fans drifting away, but he is joining a mid-table club with a good, close-knit squad.”