Mark Cooper – A personal view by John Light

Cut Mark and he bleeds football. Forest Green will be found engraved on his heart. He is a driven man, determined to take us forward. In doing this he demands and expects perfection, in refereeing, playing surfaces and player performance. Individual mistakes must be an anathema to him.

Media men do not escape criticism if they stray from the perceptive and intelligent questioning he expects.

This approach may make him seem abrupt and dour, but this is a superficial view, with the only evidence being immediate post-match interviews. Meeting him at other times he is charming and sensitive, but where his job is concerned, he is totally focussed on getting matters right.

Not for Mark the extrovert enthusiasm of the Cowley brothers. His approach is so different.

During games you will see how determined he is, concentrating totally on the play and performance of his players. He can be angered by what he regards as unjust criticism of his players coming from the crowd around him.

In the technical area he is intense rather than calm and his displeasure can be obvious. This brings us back to his insistence on high standards.

I suspect the almost reverential atmosphere at The New Lawn disappoints him. He wants a crowd as committed as he is.

All football managers should believe in the saying “Choose your chairman, not your club.” In this respect Mark is very fortunate. Dale can see the bigger picture and despite the disastrous January and February the general movement of the club is upwards. This was confirmed by the Swindon performance. Every aspect of that stunning win showed Mark at his best. His media meeting on Thursday gave nothing away. It was a fine example of subterfuge. No way was Mark going to say, “Five key defenders are on the treatment table and I may have to play Elliot Frear at left back.” Swindon found out at the last minute. Then in a game played on a perfect surface Forest Green surprised everyone. They took on the league leaders and won!

Three facts confirm my view that Mark is the man who should be Rovers current manager. Firstly, the recently returned Chris Stokes, a senior figure in the dressing room, spoke warmly about the atmosphere there and how everyone was pulling together. Secondly, we know we can play good football. It took us to the top of the league before Christmas. Most of all however is the fact that he has led us from the Conference into the Football League, and we are in a good position to make a real challenge for Division One.

Yes, you may be somewhat concerned about his demeanour at times, but remember, he is a true Yorkshireman and proud of it.