JIM Cooper says Grays Athletic’s exciting plans for the future were a major factor in him taking over as the Isthmian North club’s new manager.

Cooper has replaced Jamie Stuart at the helm after the club legend was relieved of his duties on Monday.

And Cooper, who has also spoken of his interest in the club’s youth set-up, cannot wait to get to work.

“I am delighted and very proud to be appointed as the new manager of Grays Athletic,” said Cooper.

“I know that it will be a very difficult task to take over from a true legend of this club, but as soon as I spoke with the chairman (Steve Skinner) I knew what a fantastic opportunity it would be for me due to the plans the club has in place both on and off the pitch.

“I aim to give the current squad every chance to remain with the club and will look at all of them at some point.

“In the short-term, my plan is to improve our league position and win as many games between now and the end of this season, which will hopefully show the fans that the club is in safe hands.

“My long-term plan is to build a side that is capable of challenging for promotion.

“To do that, I will be looking to bring in some players this season who I know will add quality to the current squad and who I feel will also be part of my plans for next season.

“I aim to forge closer links with the excellent youth teams that the club currently has at it’s disposal, which I know can benefit the club in years to come and you will see me cheering them on from the sidelines on a Sunday morning.”

Cooper – who is based in Upminster – was manager of the Metropolitan Police for a total of 15 years, where he took charge of more than 850 league and cup games.

He decided to leave the club in June 2018 due to the restructuring of the leagues, but that came after winning the Isthmian South title in 2010/11 having also enjoyed five previous attempts at promotion via the play-offs.

Cooper steered the Met Police towards the Isthmian Premier League play-offs during his stint, along with the FA Cup first round, where they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Crawley Town.

Met Police won numerous county cup crowns during Cooper’s time in charge, while they also suffered an extra-time loss to Billericay Town in the Isthmian League Cup final last year.

Cooper’s managerial experience comes after a stellar career in non-league football, where he played for the likes of Barking, Leytonstone & Ilford, Dagenham and Aveley.