We take a look at Hartlepool United
After relegation the season before back to League 2, Hartlepool United made the move to hand Colin Cooper his first job in management. After a difficult start, results picked up early in 2014, as they looked to make a late play-off surge. But the tightness of the division saw them drop back into the bottom half, and until a 2-1 win against Morecambe looked to assure they safety with two games left. They finished with a draw and a loss, meaning they ended up just three points above the relegation zone after the 46 games.
Colin Cooper took his first management role when he was handed the job at Victoria Park. He looked to make a number of changes following relegation the campaign before, and it took a while for them to get going. His first league win as boss didn’t come until mid-September, but he picked up a Manager of the Month award in October as form improved. Cooper’s assistant Craig Hignett, who moved there with him, left midway through the season to join Middlesbrough.
THE KEY PLAYERS
Luke James finished as the club’s top goalscorer with 16 goals from his 49 appearances. The striker came through the club’s academy, having been since the club from the age of 12. In the previous two campaigns he had been involved, but under Cooper he was given a real chance to impress.
Goals were hard to come by for all players other than James, but Jonathan Franks’ six from midfield were a big help for Pools. After starting his career at Middlesbrough, he had loans at Yeovil and Oxford United before arriving at Hartlepool in 2012. He made 46 appearances.
Goalkeeper Scott Flinders made 50 appearances for the club last season, missing just a handful of matches. The goalkeeper has been with Hartlepool since 2009, and once again impressed last season between the sticks.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SO FAR
Midfielder Lewis Hawkins has signed a new contract with the club, while Dan Jones and Josh Rowbotham have too. Sam Collins has taken on a coaching role at the club, while continuing his playing duties.
Simon Walton, Andy Monkhouse, Greg Rutherford and striker Zak Boagey have all been released.
Blues have an excellent record against Hartlepool, winning 23 of their 46 meetings. There have been ten draws and 13 wins for Pools. Last season, Blues won 1-0 at Victoria Park, before a 1-1 draw at Roots Hall.