Pompey boss relishing locking horns with Notts County's new man

Last May they were play-off adversaries. Today Paul Cook and Mark Cooper lock horns in League Two.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 25th March 2016, 7:00 am
Mark Cooper
Mark Cooper

Fratton Park will mark Cooper’s first match in charge of Notts County following his appointment last Sunday.

Predecessor Jamie Fullarton spent only 12 matches in charge, failing to win any of their last seven fixtures.

The Meadow Lane club have turned to Cooper, who led Swindon into the League One play-offs last season.

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They lost in the final against Preston, the same team which had eliminated Cook’s Chesterfield in the earlier semi-final stages.

In terms of head-to-heads, Cooper’s Robins completed the double over Chesterfield in league action.

Now Cook is gunning for what represents an important Fratton Park encounter when the pair today meet again.

Pompey’s boss said: ‘He is a great lad, I have a lot of time for Mark, it’s great to see him back.

‘I think it’s a good fit, Notts County is a big club, one of the bigger ones in our league, and have the ability to become a good club again and move up a league or too.

‘In Mark they have a very good manager now.

‘They used to batter us all the time. We got beat 3-0 at home and then 3-2 away – we scored two the second time, though, so were improving!

‘In my opinion he is a good manager. Nowadays managers are getting sacked quicker and quicker now, that is the reality of the game.

‘Whether that’s a good thing that is for other people to decide but Mark had a fantastic time in Swindon.

‘And I think what he will want to do now is have a fantastic time at Notts County.’

Under Cooper, Swindon lost 4-0 in last season’s play-offs against Preston.

The current campaign began badly, culminating in the 47-year-old dismissed in October with his side in 20th.

At the time, the Robins were above the relegation zone on goal difference following seven defeats in their previous eight games.

As for Cook, he willingly departed Chesterfield in the summer for a Pompey job which has promotion as the target.

The Blues are presently sixth in League Two, five points behind Bristol Rovers in third spot.

And Cook recognises the impact a new manager could have on today’s match.

He added: ‘I think a new manager will have a natural respect. What it will do is open doors for those who have not been playing. That will probably give everybody a little life.

‘Stanley Aborah is a good player and he could be coming back, but today is about us.

‘If you look at the tough games we’ve had lately on paper against Bristol Rovers, Cambridge United and Accrington that is nine points.

‘Then there are games on paper we should have done alright against.

‘So it’s not really the opposition we are playing against – it’s ourselves.’