Colin Cooper Is Excited But Pleads For Clean Sheets
By Robert Nichols
Wednesday 07 Aug 2019 09:41:00
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On the unveiling of plans for a new children's centre honouring his son's name Finlay Cooper former Boro player Colin Cooper offered some thoughts about the new season and new era under Jonathan Woodgate. This interview was conducted a few hours before the big kick off v Luton Town and also before this week's transfer window ins and OUTS.

Teesside charity The Finlay Cooper Fund is set to call time on its fundraising with three substantial donations to local charities. They include a donation of £100,000 to Middlesbrough-based children’s charity MAIN, which will help the charity buy its own premises – a new centre which is to be named ‘The Finlay Cooper Centre’.

I will publish the full interview about the amazing legacy for the Finlay Cooper Fund next week, as well as MAIN's new centre there will be a second holiday caravan at Filey and a new sensory suite at Daisy Chain.

Fly: What are your thoughts on the forthcoming season?

CC: Watching with interest. I haven't seen any of the pre-season friendlies. Obviously I have seen the results but from Day One really, believe it or believe it not when Tony (Pulis) left I sent Steve a message. Just saying whatever you decide to next... because I can understand the processes of Steve because the last few managers, when it didn't work with Gareth he has gone experience with Gordon, he went local with Tony. For whatever reason that didn't quite work so he went from local and hero to foreign, and then from foreign to young English with Garry, didn't quite work.

So, I think Tony was a brilliant appointment at the time. I came up to the club and visited Tony and the staff and saw some of the players when I was working with the FA and Under 21s. It was the perfect appointment at the time because there was stability. Tony had been through this many times, knew exactly what he was doing.

I can understand the frustrations about what people felt about Tony's style, if you like. Tony is about getting results, he always has been. It is his way. So, when his contract ran out and he left I sent a message to Steve give the fans something that is going to excite them. So basically you are turning the clock back to 2006 when he appointed Gareth. Basically what he is saying is you are a man from this area, you know the club, you know the people. I have not seen Woody work as a coach but I have been up to the club when he was working with the 18s with Mark Tinkler and obviously when he was working with Tony on first team.

Listen. Why not. You could go out and search the world for a coach but it is not going to be any better than what Jonathan can deliver, as long as he has got the support of Steve and as long as he has got the support of the people.

The two things I would say, yes he will want to please the people because of Tony's tight, defensive structure and counter attacking and set plays. What he feel he wants to do is to please everybody and play open, expansive football but the one thing I have said from Day One is don't ever forget what you were really good at. You were a brilliant defender, you were brilliant at keeping the ball out of your goal. In order to be successful in the Championship, yes you have to be able to score goals to get promoted but the most important thing will be stopping the opposition scoring.

Now, you can still do that, as long as he is structured, as long as he is good in transition, in and out of possession. Which I believe there can be some exciting stuff. If he has some pace in the team, if he has some energy in the team. If he has some grit and determination. Certainly in midfield, backline and obviously Darren has been an excellent goalkeeper anyway.

Listen, as an ex player and as a fan I am excited but in my heart of hearts I am just saying just make sure that the team is strong defensively, not in a stifling way. Just when we don't have possession of the ball, we are compact, we are difficult to beat, we make teams go round us they don't go through us. We make sure we defend the box really and keep the ball out of the goal. And then we have got the legs, we have got the pace and you have got the expansion. You have people who can excite, people like Lewis Wing. Or like Britt. You have got people who can still go and excite, attacking the other goal and scoring goals. But as soon as we lose it, everybody has to be on the same sheet. That we get behind the ball and we are very difficult to beat and then go and counter attack again, difficult to beat, counter attack again.

The Championship is notoriously, notoriously... you saw the run Villa went on last year and the run Fulham went on the year before.. you can be a good football team as long as you are difficult to beat and you have the ability to score goals, which with some of the players in the team they have the ability to score goals, no doubt about that. But let's make sure (and it is not a defender speaking), all I am saying is the most important thing in football is if you are going to win games you don't concede. And it is not a negative thing, it is making sure that the whole team buys into, when we don't have the ball, we work our backsides off, either to get back into shape and then to win it back either to go and counter attack or go and score. Be good in possession for sure, but be good in possession making sure that if the ball is turned over we are ready in transition.

And I am excited. I am excited for Jonathan. I am excited to watch the game at Luton tonight on the TV. I am excited about what will come. I have been invited down to the Nottingham Forest game on the 10th. So, good luck to Woody.

He came back into the club when I had just finished playing myself and Gareth was manager. His first season was outstanding. Second season, he suffered a bit with his injuries as he did, so slightly disappointing. But I think for Middlesbrough at least (it could be exciting) if the people give him half a chance.

As a player he had an incredible career. As Gareth, he is now on a very steep learning curve as a man and a coach but I think bringing Robbie in is good. Because not only was Robbie a fantastic striker. Robbie's words which I read and saw on the Coaches Forum because he was an ex striker it means he can help the defenders, saying this is what strikers may or may not intend to do to you, to move you, whatever. So his expertise in that field will be great. He has been working with big Mick McCarthy at the Republic, so he will have learned an awful lot from Mick for sure.

Leo coming back, he is obviously the cheer leader, the crowd bearer. I don't know Leo as a man but I know when he was working for Aitor, I had the pleasure of talking and chatting to him. He is a guy with Middlesbrough in his heart which is brilliant. I think that with everything he has been through as a person, it will give him an opportunity to galvanise and to show everyone he isn't just the flag bearer.

Danny was a goal keeper when I was just starting on my coaching journey. He came in the club as a no.2 or no. 3 goalkeeper even. A great guy. I helped him through the first bit of his coaching qualifications. I sent him a message when he was working at Shrewsbury and he got the Caretaker Manager job and just said if I can be of any help. Danny is a great guy.

So, I think between the four of them and the guys that work behind at the 23 level and 18 level. Hopefully, that camaraderie, that link from youth football into senior football.. Jonathan has spoken about giving young players of talent a chance, whether they bring them in or whether they develop ones Middlesbrough has always given young players a go. I think the one thing you notice when you have been working on the inside is, Woody will have seen this kid is good enough to step up or add to what we have already got. And with people like Lewis Wing and Marcus Tavernier we have got some really exciting young talent. And more and more.

I read an article from Britt and he was saying some good things in that he found it difficult under Tony but he is excited about working under Jonathan. If Britt Assombalonga gets on a roll, we have seen when he was at Forest or when he was at Peterborough, he will get you 30 or 35 goals. All you need is to make him feel good. Make him confident. You have got the players who will give him the chances and if he is feeling good about himself he will take the chances and you never know where that might take you.

But... CLEAN SHEETS... CLEAN SHEETS...



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