Steve Cooper is expected to be sacked by Nottingham Forest, unless he gets a positive result against Wolves on Saturday, Sky Sports News has been told.
The feeling among the playing squad and other members of staff at the City Ground is similar – that a fifth-straight Premier League defeat at Molineux will lead inevitably to a managerial change.
There is a feeling of malaise within the squad, Sky Sports News has been told, with the club hierarchy increasingly of the belief that fresh ideas are needed. Specifically, there has been a difference of opinion between the coaching staff and players over tactics in recent games.
Forest’s bosses fear Cooper is becoming increasingly worn down and frustrated in the job.
Nevertheless, the Forest travelling support were still chanting Cooper’s name at Craven Cottage even as the fourth goal was scored in a 5-0 defeat to Fulham on Wednesday night.
Cooper acknowledged that support at full time, pointing to his heart and then the fans. It’s thought he retains the support of the majority of Forest supporters, having led the club back to the Premier League after a 23-year absence.
Forest have lost five out of their last six Premier League matches – the only victory in that time was an impressive 2-0 win over high-flying Aston Villa.
Cooper held his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to Wolves on Thursday morning, with reports claiming that former Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui is a serious contender to take over if the Welshman is sacked.
But Cooper dismissed fears about losing his job as pressure mounts on him and insisted he cannot consider the sack.
He said: “I don’t think like that. That is not a good way to think, it is like saying to a player ‘you have to play well or you will not play again’ – it is not a thought process I believe in using.
“We are disappointed with results and last night’s performance. More than ever you have to show belief and character, and what you stand for.
“There are going to be questions and stories, I respect that, as it is the life of a football manager.
“At the same time, you have to stay honed in on your day’s work and, if I let anything else creep in, I am not giving 100 per cent to the job and that is what I want to do.”
Cooper, who took Forest back to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years in 2022, said after the hammering at Craven Cottage that he did not deserve the backing from the fans he received as he left the pitch.
He he also refused to blame his players for their showing on Wednesday after doubles from Alex Iwobi, Raul Jimenez and a late Tom Cairney strike sunk the visitors.
The 43-year-old said: “I would never split myself from the players. We are a collective.
“It’s not about me getting let down, it’s the supporters who were let down by all of us – and that starts with me.”
‘This is D-Day for Cooper – Forest wanted to be in top half’
Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett:
“In truth, it is: lose, and you’re gone.
“You can read this as a positive – my understanding is that Steve Cooper will be in the dugout for Saturday’s crucial game at Molineux against Wolves. But I’ve been told there’s a widespread expectation at the City Ground – and it is felt by Cooper himself – that he would not be able to survive a fifth straight defeat and that would result in a change in manager.
“The stats are dreadful – four straight defeats, five losses in their last six and just one win in 11. That being said, that one win was an impressive 2-0 win against Aston Villa, who are flying at the moment.
“Forest are still 16th, six points above the relegation zone, so there is no reason to panic for the owner Evangelos Marinakis. But he does worry about the direction where this is going.
“After Forest survived relegation last season, the expectations this season were much higher. They spent a lot of money and signed eight new players in the final 24 hours of the transfer window. They made a big investment with Steve Cooper, they expected to be in the top half of the Premier League, instead of at the wrong end of the table. That’s why the pressure is coming.
“Forest really like Cooper – it’s hard not to admire him. He’s very honest, he’s a very good coach and he’s done a fantastic job for Nottingham Forest. He’s got them into the Premier League for the first time in 23 years when they looked like they were never going to get there.
“The owners and the fans remember that – but they have showed an awful lot of backing to him. In April, when Forest were just above the relegation places only on goal difference, they hadn’t won in eight games and Marinakis gave him a really public show of support saying he wanted to ‘end the speculation and the false and disruptive reporting. He did also say the results needed to improve and they did. Forest finished the season very well and ended up four points above the relegation places.
“Even seven days ago, it was very clear to me and other reporters that Cooper retained the support of Marinakis. The full support. So what has changed in the last seven days?
“It’s not just that they’ve lost two more games, it’s that heavy defeat against Fulham on Tuesday night but the wider feeling, not that he’s losing the dressing room, but there’s a wider malaise in the squad and things aren’t going the way he wants – and whether he is the right man to change it.
“Cooper is still popular among the Forest fans but this is D-Day for him. He’s not a stupid man, he knows results aren’t good enough.
“One game to save his job – a lot of people at Forest would like him to win that game so he can get out of this mess.”