Nottingham Forest confirmed the appointment of Steve Cooper as their new head coach this week following one of the worst starts to a season in the club’s illustrious history.
The former Swansea boss, who left the Welsh club at the end of July, replaces Chris Hughton at the City Ground.
Ex-Chelsea skipper John Terry had been linked with the role, with the Blues legend looking to make his first foray into management after leaving his coaching position at Aston Villa.
But Cooper was Forest’s first choice, and the club paid compensation to Swansea to land the former England U17 boss as he was on gardening leave in South Wales, having left with just under 12 months left on his contract.
The 41-year-old decided to walk away from the Liberty Stadium after two seasons in charge, where he led them to the Championship play-offs in back-to-back seasons.
“He seems like a good fit for the club right now,” Steven from 1865: Nottingham Forest podcast tells FansBet.
“Forest this season have moved to a different approach with how they recruit players.
“CEO Dane Murphy came in from Barnsley during the summer and the club have moved towards a more data-driven approach to player recruitment with younger players under the age of 26 coming in.
“That suits Steve Cooper’s philosophy with his track record of working with younger players, on top of what he did at Swansea with back-to-back play-off finishes.
“And at the age of 41, he’s a young coach as well so there’s the potential there for him to be Forest manager for many years to come.
“Forest fans want to see the club move out of trouble in the Championship and for Cooper to steer us away from any relegation fears.
“But we all want to see a team that plays more on the front foot and more aggressively than under Chris Hughton.”
Former Newcastle and Brighton boss Chris Hughton had spent less than 11 months in charge at the City Ground after signing a two-year deal when replacing Sabri Lamouchi in October last year.
He is the fifth permanent manager to depart since Greek shipping magnate Evangelos Marinakis bought the club off Fawaz Al Hasawi in 2017.
Forest, who finished last season in 17th place, made seven new signings during the summer transfer window, but fans had already turned on Hughton after disappointing early results.
📈 Two successive play-off finishes
👏 44.8% win record at #Swans
🔮 Proven track record with youth
🤝 “He seems a good fit for the club… There’s potential for him to be #NFFC manager for many years.”
— FansBet (@FansBet) September 23, 2021
“The sacking of Chris Hughton was the right move,” says Steven. “The tactics were quite rigid and there wasn’t really a setup for aggressive pressing football.
“It seemed more reactionary, where I think Cooper will allow us to play more on the front foot and more in the opposition half – ultimately creating more chances.
“Whatever he was doing at Forest simply didn’t work and he was not able to get the results, first and foremost, but the performances weren’t great either.
“I think he was trying to bring in the same tactics and methods that had worked well for him at Newcastle and Brighton, but it simply wasn’t working with him at Forest.
“Unfortunately for him, he won’t rate highly in terms of other Forest managers. His win percentage was only 26 per cent, the football wasn’t great and the team got off to their worst start to the season for 106 years.
“I don’t think the players weren’t playing for him, it was simply a case that his methods just weren’t working.
“One a personal level I think he’s a really nice guy on and that basis I’d have really liked it to work for him, but ultimately a change had to be made.”
Cooper now faces the daunting task of lifting the fallen giants out of the mire, after the club’s worst start to a season in over a century.
Forest currently sit rock-bottom of the Championship, with 12 goals conceded and seven scored in their first eight games of the campaign.
The Reds had failed to win in their first seven league games of the 2021/22 season, with Hughton leaving the City Ground as a result.
But they enjoyed their first win of the season with a 2-0 victory away at Huddersfield in the following fixture, with the hope among Forest fans that their new boss can continue to steer the club away from danger.
“It’s perhaps not a surprise that Forest did get that first win without Chris Hughton,” explains Steven.
“Caretaker Coach, Steven Reid, set us up with a 3-4-2-1 system almost with two wingbacks in more attacking areas and Lewis Grabban up front.
“He got on the scoresheet having not been given much service to work with for a while under Hughton.
“Forest played more on the front foot and the second goal was a good example of that where they pressed Huddersfield in their own half.
“There was more attacking intent from the team and the change in formation suited the players we have.
“There’s hope that Cooper can continue and kick-on from that win.
“The three at the back with wingbacks and players playing more on the front foot was very similar to how he played at Swansea and some of his best football came using that formation.
“Forest have got the players to play that way and I think they’ve got the personnel that Cooper will be able to get more out of than Hughton was able to.”
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