Colin Cooper feels his Hartlepool United side are finally making inroads into the damaging losing mentality that has hung over Victoria Park for the past few seasons.
Three straight away wins has lifted Pool and Cooper feels the “outstanding” defeat of Exeter last weekend provides his in-form team with the perfect platform to continue their excellent run against Plymouth this afternoon.
Hartlepool have only won twice in front of their own supporters this season and Cooper is desperate to reverse that run to prove to the Teesside public that the club is moving in the right direction after a couple of years of disappointing results at Victoria Park.
Relegation last year and a close escape the season before left many disillusioned but Cooper has paid tribute to the hardcore support who have been generous in their reactions this term – even when the team has lost.
The Pool boss feels that is largely down to the fact that the team have been unfortunate in front of their own supporters, and probably deserved more. Now he is urging them to prove that by beating a Plymouth team trapped in the lower reaches of the fourth tier.
“We have had three great results but now we have two home games and I want us to show what we can do in those matches,” Cooper said.
“Our job as a coaching team is to give the players the confidence to go out there and express themselves. It’s about hard work, discipline and working hard for each other to ensure we can play our game. If we do those things then we will give ourselves an opportunity.
“To change a losing mentality is a very hard thing to do and I think we have still got a long way to go but hopefully the last three games have gone some way to starting that process.”
Although Cooper feels there is a long way to go to convince supporters the club is back on the up, he feels they ‘get’ what he and Craig Hignett are trying to do.
“I have to say the 3 to 4,500 who have come and supported us at Victoria Park have been very, very supportive of what we’re trying to do,” he said.
“It would be very nice for them if we could continue our form because they have only seen us win twice at home but I have to say they have been very, very good to us so far this season.
“In all of the games that we have lost – Southend, Fleetwood and Wycombe – I think they realise that we were the better team but just lost because we didn’t put the chances away. We have carried a threat going forward in the last few games but we have to make sure we don’t get picked off.
“My hope is that this weekend we can give the home supporters some of the feeling that the away supporters have had.”
Pool have beaten two teams in the early promotion mix in recent weeks and there is clearly a belief that the club might yet challenge at the right end of the division.
“I think we are more than capable of matching anyone in the division.
“I believe in what we’re doing and I believe in these players,” Cooper said. However much belief has been spiked, Cooper will try and hammer home the message that the team is improving because it is getting the basics right.
“We need to keep banging home the message that it’s hard work and being hard to beat that wins you games in this division,” he said.
“I don’t think you should go gung-ho and try and think ‘We’ll score one more than you’.
“That’s not my philosophy. I want them to keep doing what they’ve been doing and we will create chances.”