Peterborough United's new Manager Mark Cooper has a home debut to relish as the Posh prepare to entertain Middlesbrough on Saturday.
A week after making his bow in Football League management at Sheffield United, where a 1-0 defeat left Peterborough anchored to the bottom of the Coca-Cola Championship, Cooper is set to send his team out against opponents that last season were two divisions higher than Posh - and four division higher than Cooper himself, who was in charge at Blue Square Premier club Kettering Town.
"It's fantastic to be playing against teams like Sheffield United and Middlesbrough," said Cooper, "and I'm really looking forward to my first home match.
"I thought we were very unlucky to get nothing at Sheffield last week. The players gave me everything they've got and we definitely deserved to get something out of the game, but that's what happens when you're bottom of the table.
"Middlesbrough will obviously be tough, they want to bounce straight back to the Premiership and in Gordon Strachan they've got a good new manager, but it's the sort of game that will get players up and I know they'll give me the same effort and commitment I got from them last week."
Cooper, who cut his managerial teeth at Conference level with Tamworth before doing a fine job at Kettering, has unusually moved from the non-League scene up to the Championship in one leap.
"If you stay too long you get labelled as a non-League manager," said the 40-year-old former Birmingham City, Fulham and Exeter City midfielder. "I didn't think I'd get a chance to manage in the Championship so soon, but I aim to take it with both hands."
Cooper will have both hands full as he works to maintain Peterborough's divisional status following the club's two successive promotions.
They have won only once in their last nine outings, in the process collecting just four points to lie six points behind the safety positions. But Cooper firmly believes that his team can climb away from danger, particularly once he has strengthened his squad.
He has already taken central defender Exodus Geohaghon from his old club Kettering on loan and will aim to bring in further players during the January transfer window.
"If I identify targets I'm sure the chairman will back me," he said, "and there will maybe be one or two additions. There are already good players at the club though, and it's just a question of getting them organised and re-inforcing their beliefs to get us moving in the right direction."
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