Colin Cooper is convinced Marlon Harewood can provide the cutting edge to turn around Hartlepool United’s hard-luck story.
Pool have sunk closer to the League Two danger zone after back-to-back 3-0 defeats, but Cooper is adamant his young side played well enough to beat both Rochdale and Bury – if only they had taken their chances.
Cooper has acted this week to try and rectify Pool’s lack of goals by striking a deal for 34-year-old former Nottingham Forest, West Ham and Newcastle forward Harewood, who arrives at Victoria Park after being released by League One Bristol City.
He has more than 130 career goals and is well known to Cooper, who first met him as a 17-year-old when the pair were at the City Ground.
Now Harewood is the veteran forward and the Pool boss is sure his ability in front of goal – as well as his desire to prove himself one last time – will make the signing a success for the League Two outfit.
Cooper said: “I have known Marlon for a long time and when I heard he was being released by Bristol City I invited him for a chat.
“It is obvious his hunger and desire are still there, which was always the most important thing for me.
“He just gives us something a bit different – a different outlook and a different dimension which we perhaps need.
“In the last two games we have played I honestly think we were the best team in both of those matches.
“In the first half of both of those games we have had chances to go one or two up and we haven’t taken them, which has perhaps put us under a little bit of pressure.
“We maybe just need to be a little bit more clinical in front of goal which is where I hope Marlon can come in and help us.”
Harewood was in and out of the team at Ashton Gate, but the move to Victoria Park gives him the opportunity to be the main man for the League Two side, with Cooper envisaging him playing a key role in helping the progress of young stars like Luke James – who has hit ten goals for Pool this term.
However, as well as taking on responsibilities off-the-field, Cooper believes Harewood still has a major role to play on the pitch as he embarks on life at the bottom end of the Football League for the first time.
He added: “As someone who had the career I had, I pay very little attention to his birth certificate.
“I don’t really care about the numbers – he is how old he is but he still has that hunger and desire which is so important.
“I honestly think he can play for another three or four years.
“The fact he is willing to help the younger players is a great bonus for us but you can already see from the way he has conducted himself at the club he is going to be a major asset for us.”
The Pool chief does not want the back-to-back home defeats to dull his team’s sense of endeavour – and has told them to keep trying things.
High-flying Fleetwood are nestled in the play-off places and represent tough opposition for Pool – losing only once at home since October 22.
Cooper said: “We have sat down the players this week and gone through the nuts and bolts of why we have conceded goals.
“Whether that has been through naivety or shutting off at set-pieces it is something we need to correct.
“Hopefully we will see an improvement on Saturday but I want the players to still have the confidence to try things.”