TOM COLLOMOSSE: Nottingham Forest MUST back Steve Cooper this summer to keep his job after securing Premier League survival with critical win over Arsenal
- Nottingham Forest secured safety after beating Arsenal thanks to Taiwo Awoniyi
- The future of the club is at stake and manager Steve Cooper needs to be supported
- Evangelos Marinakis can’t let Cooper slip through their fingers and go elsewhere
Clear heads were in short supply at River Trent a day after Nottingham Forest secured their Premier League status against Arsenal but they will be vital if the club are to build on this success.
Manager Steve Cooper will hold discussions with owner Evangelos Marinakis in the coming days to plan the way forward and it is important that the two are on the same page when those talks are concluded.
Make no mistake, Forest’s future is at stake. Cooper loves this club as much as the fans love him but the Welshman deserves a calm working environment, without the off-field chaos that has provided a backdrop to the season.
As the owner of 47-time Greek champions Olympiacos, Marinakis craves success and he and his teammates must ensure Cooper is the man to turn them into an established Premier League club. To look elsewhere is a big mistake. As players develop, Cooper is improving as a manager and must be trusted.
Cooper was close to the sack at least twice and other managers were sounded in both October and April. If he chooses to look elsewhere at the end of the season, no one would blame him.
Nottingham Forest secured safety after beating Arsenal thanks to Taiwo Awoniyi’s goal
The club’s future is at stake and manager Steve Cooper needs to be backed up this summer
Evangelos Marinakis cannot let Cooper slip through Forest’s fingers and let him go elsewhere
Amid interest from Crystal Palace and other clubs, Forest are not letting him slip through their fingers, as he and Marinakis deserve credit for what Forest have delivered.
Cooper showed exceptional man management to create unity in a group that barely knew each other last summer, with 30 players signed throughout the season.
Marinaki knows he has to spend to keep Forest and although some of the signings have been poor, the good ones have made a difference.
Morgan Gibbs-White, Taiwo Awoniyi, Danilo, Felipe and Renan Lodi cost almost £70million combined and, along with homegrown stars Brennan Johnson and Ryan Yates, are likely to tilt the balance between safety and relegation.
However much needs to be changed. The sacking of three senior recruitment officials and a chief executive — still not replaced — during the season is not the kind of status Forest craves.
‘Alignment is what the best clubs, organizations have, from top to bottom,’ Cooper said. ‘It’s absolutely necessary for a club to succeed.
‘So many changes have happened and need to be continued, just because of our unique situation. Maybe the promotion was a surprise.
Morgan Gibbs-White has been a bright spark for Forest this season following his summer move
Brennan Johnson has many fans and Forest may have to sell him to fund other transfers
‘Then there was a quick turnaround with the start of the Premier League and a lot of things that nobody saw behind the scenes.
‘It’s about putting it all together to be what we want to be. I’m really pleased that we can continue that journey in the Premier League.’
There is unlikely to be the dizzying levels of transfer activity that have characterized the last two windows, and Forest may decide they need to sell a key asset to fund work this summer.
Johnson is a rightful hero to the supporters but he hasn’t made the starting XI recently and has fans across the league. As an academy product, any transfer fee can be banked as pure profit.
Forest will do anything to trade places with Arsenal but there is more soul-searching ahead in north London.
Eight points adrift in April, Mikel Arteta’s side were simply stunning and faced further accusations of mental frailty at the most difficult of times. ‘We played a great season but we have to take the next step because next season will be more difficult,’ admitted Gunners’ dejected midfielder Granit Xhaka.
News/Image Sources: Daily Mail