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Pools v Plymouth preview
COLIN COOPER feels the tide is slowly turning. The last three games may have ended in spectacular away victories, but, for Cooper, looking at the overall picture is more important than headline-grabbing victories.
The wins at Mansfield, Sheffield United and Exeter were spectacular and important to prove that Pools are on the right track under their new manager.
Now, with today’s home game against Plymouth followed by Tuesday’s meeting with AFC Wimbledon, Cooper is getting a simple message across: keep doing the basics.
“For me you have to show the right commitment – last weekend at Exeter, we were three up going into the last minute and Christian Burgess flung himself in the way of a shot to keep them out,’’ he reflected.
“That’s a great sign. If you let them get a consolation goal in the 90th minute then it’s not edgy enough for me.
“Doing that shows a change in mentality, and a continuation of it. It has to be there every week and, on the back of all the good things, we’ve got another busy seven days and we want to repeat that.
“Good players, good teams – neither of which we are there in any shape or form – do that and then I’m a happy man.
“If they think we’ve had a good week, now let’s have a week off then I’m not a happy man.
“But I do feel there’s a slight change in mentality here and I want that to carry on. If we do then we end up winning more than we lose.’’
With eight goals in their favour and only a penalty conceded in the last three games, Pools have been bright at both ends of the pitch.
Defensively solid, the back line has provided a firm platform for the flair players to build on.
And Cooper insists there is no let up in that outlook today.
“We have to go out and do the things that work for us,’’ he admitted. “Working your backsides off and we have to do that to have a chance in any game.
“That’s what gave us a chance to win games in the last week, working hard, keeping solid and taking chances.
“Mansfield hit the post after four minutes, Sheffield United hit the bar after a minute, Exeter started better than us – maybe there’s something there for us to start better, but we have won each game comfortably.
“Give anyone a chink of light and they will grasp it and we have to avoid that.
“We get the message across that we cannot let things slip and we will get that across. If you think you have arrived after the last week, then you get a kick up the backside. That’s how football is, it has an uncanny knack of giving you a reality check. Be solid, organised and compact and it gives you the chance to do things that we know we can do.
“The foundations have to be in place first, that’s vital. If they aren’t there then you will fall down – your creative side doesn’t get chance to flourish as you will be on the back foot.
“As long as we all realise the foundations give us that platform then we will be OK.’’
He added: “We’ve scored goals and only conceded one in three. Things have gone for us a little bit, maybe Lady Luck has given us a bit of a turn.
“But, having negotiated those things that may have gone against us, we have gone on to dominate – Mansfield, Sheffield and Exeter may disagree but I feel we have dominated all three games.
“You can’t do that without being solid first.’’
Pools’ players were given, following a long and rewarding week of travelling, Sunday and Monday off before returning to Maiden Castle for training on Tuesday.
Cooper added: ““It’s nice to feel good and confidence is a massive part. You don’t want to take that away from people and they need to express themselves, but I also want them to make sure the ethics, the real solid ethics, remain in place.
“I expect it to continue and I will be demanding it.’’
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