Nottingham Forest sack Steve Cooper after poor Premier League run

19 December 2023 0 By Total Football News

Steve CooperSteve Cooper was England under-17 manager when they won the World Cup in 2017

Nottingham Forest have confirmed the sacking of manager Steve Cooper, with former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo in talks to replace him.

Cooper’s exit comes with Forest having lost five of their past six games.

The 44-year-old led Forest to promotion to the Premier League in 2022, ending a 23-year absence from the top flight.

“His achievement in guiding Forest back will undoubtedly remain an iconic moment in the club’s history,” said owner Evangelos Marinakis.

“We thank Steve for his dedication and commitment during his time with us, as well as the incredible connection he forged with our supporters and the city of Nottingham.

“Steve will always remain a friend of the club and will forever be welcome at the City Ground. We wish him well in his future endeavours.”

Cooper, who continued to be a popular figure with the club’s fans, was told of the decision on Tuesday.

Forest, who are 17th in the Premier League, have won once in their past 13 top-flight games, taking eight points in that period.

They have picked up one point from their past six matches and are five points ahead of third-from-bottom Luton, who have a match in hand.

Cooper’s final game at the helm was a 2-0 home defeat by Tottenham last Friday.

He is the second Premier League manager to be sacked this season, after Sheffield United dismissed Paul Heckingbottom earlier this month.

Forest’s patience with Cooper runs out

Former England Under-17s boss Cooper was appointed when Forest were bottom of the Championship in September 2021, leading them to promotion in the same season and ensuring top-flight safety with a 16th-place finish.

The Welshman overhauled the squad after promotion with 19 players joining on permanent deals and three arriving on loan, while 17 left the club.

Cooper’s future at the City Ground came under the spotlight on several occasions last season as they struggled to find consistency and had to rely almost solely on home fixtures to pick up points – claiming 30 of their 38 when hosting.

In April, owner Marinakis released a statement backing Cooper in an attempt to end “false and disruptive reporting” about his future.

Forest were 18th with four games left to play but managed to pick up eight points across those matches to climb away from danger.

But the issue of performing on the road has persisted into 2023-24, with only five points collected from nine outings.

Cooper has been consistently backed by the Forest support, but Marinakis has become increasingly concerned at his club’s plight.

Forest play Bournemouth at the City Ground on Saturday before fixtures at Newcastle United on 26 December and at home to Manchester United on 30 December.

Nuno in talks and favourite to take over

Former Eintracht Frankfurt boss Oliver Glasner has been mentioned as a potential replacement, but it appears Nuno – who also briefly managed Spurs two seasons ago – is now in pole position.

The 49-year-old Portuguese manager was sacked by Saudi Pro-League club Al-Ittihad in November.

Nuno spent four years in charge of Wolves, guiding the club to promotion from the Championship in his first season in charge before consecutive seventh-place finishes in the Premier League and a run to the Europa League quarter-finals.

The former goalkeeper left Molineux in the summer of 2021 to join Spurs, but was sacked after less than four months in charge after a run of five defeats in seven games.

He joined Al-Ittihad in July 2022 and guided the Jeddah-based side to the Saudi title last season, but was dismissed 12 games into the new campaign after a run of poor results.

Nuno previously managed Rio Ave, Valencia and Porto.

Marinakis never satisfied with Cooper – analysis

Simon Stone, BBC Sport football reporter

Steve Cooper will always be revered amongst Forest fans for taking the club from the bottom of the Championship and returning them to the Premier League after a 23-year absence – then keeping them there.

It may be some time before it is established exactly what lay behind Forest’s scattergun approach to the transfer market following promotion but somehow, Cooper forged a team that managed to secure top flight status on a never-to-be-forgotten night against Arsenal in May.

Yet there was always a suspicion owner Evangelos Marinakis was not entirely satisfied with the job Cooper was doing.

In October last year, in what was cruelly dubbed the Premier League game when the defeated manager would lose his job, Forest were hammered 4-0 at Leicester. It seemed inevitable Cooper would go. Instead, he got a new contract.

Yet the extended deal did not bring with it job security.

And while the memories of that Arsenal victory lingered over the summer, Marinakis was already setting his sights on substantial improvement, which evidently has not materialised.

So, while the Forest fans have remained loyally behind Cooper, his boss’ attitude was hardening.

A draw at Wolves on 9 December delayed his exit but the decision to make a change had already been made. It was just a question of timing. Forest need to hope Marinakis has called it right.

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