Hartlepool were on the verge of a place in the League One play-offs when he left the club in May 2005. He took over at Gillingham three weeks later, spending just six months there before returning north to Scotland to spend three years as Peterhead boss.
But he returns to Pools following Mick Wadsworth’s sacking on 6 December and is looking forward to hopefully finishing some unfinished business at the club who sit 12th in League One at the moment.
The man who has won everything in the game in Scotland while he was at Aberdeen under the great Sir Alex Ferguson, including pludits for some fantastic performances on the road to Aberdeen’s fantastic Cup Winners Cup win in 83, will draw on every bit of experience he had as a player at Pittodrie and beyond and as a manager with Ross County, Hartlepool United, Gillingham, Peterhead and now Hartlepool United again as he walks into the manager’s office for the second time.
Pools’ first game with Cooper back at the helm will be at Bramall Lane against second-placed Sheffield United on Saturday 31 December, but I am sure Neale will have the players suitably tuned in for not only the Sheffield United match but the tough task that lies ahead of them with the situation at Hartlepool much the same as with most clubs up and down the country, as the club has little or no money to spend in the January transfer window which is almost upon us.
A statement from the Hartlepool United club website read as follows: “Neale previously left the club several years ago due to personal and family issues, which he needed to address at the time.
“However, he has always indicated a desire to return to the club to continue the good work he did previously. Although the club received many applications for the vacant position and studied all CVs carefully, it was decided that by appointing Neale, and retaining Micky Barron as the reserve team coach, it would cause minimum disruption to the team’s main focus which is to climb the division and to try to reverse the current trend of home defeats.
Being at Hartlepool before, the fans will know the type of manager they are getting at the club, Neale will give nothing less than 100% to Hartlepool United and he will expect his players to do the same.