Steve Cooper is a man with a mission, born in Wales, with a modest career not being able to play much at football league level, and took up coaching at 27 years of age. He got his pro license at a young age and coached England youth sides before getting his first job in league football managment back in 2019, appointed at Swansea.
In his two seasons at Swansea he managed to get them into the play-off’s but had no luck in the end and left his position in June 2021.
Forest had a difficult start to the 2021/22 season and owner Evangelis Marinakis decided approach Steve Cooper with an offer, and since that day fortunes changed instantly.
A climb from the bottom into the play-off’s in just months, and also FA Cup wins vs. Arsenal and Leicester, reaching the quarter final losing 1-0 to Liverpool, who later won the tournament.
A squad of many loan players made up an excting group, also inlcuding a number of players coming up from the Forest academy, they are Brennan Johnson, Ryan Yates and Joe Worrall.Embed from Getty Images
This is the realy interesting part of this project, as they are the backbound of this fotball team, they were at the club when Cooper arrived, they have been part of the promotion and all of them on the field when Premier League life was secured at City Ground against Arsenal last Sunday.
Looking back at hte days of Brian Clough you had the same rythm, John Robertson, Martin O’Neill and Viv Anderson were all at Forest on Clough’s arrival, being part of the team promotion and of course winning the League and the Europan Cup.
Evangelos Marinakis is the owner of Forest, and he also the owner Olympiakos. He has been in control of Forest since 2017, and since then made a lot of changes to staff and management. Since his arrival Steve Cooper is the 9th man in charge, including caretakers.
Change is something Marinakis believe in is as progress, and since Steve Cooper came in, he has changed and changed and changed, and with that managed to survive, with a few key elements of stability as a clear indicator that he looks in control and having good control over the situation.
Alan Tate has worked closely with Steve Cooper as he came with him from Swansea, and the well experienced defender who spent 11 years at Swansea as a player and with Cooper’s lack of playing experience, Tate takes that in buckets as he has broad background being a player himself coming through the Manchester United academy. Andy Reid that was in interim charge at the club before Cooper arrived is also part of the coaching staff and as we all know, have a grand career behind him at Forest and Tottenham among his clubs.
So how was it possible to survive and see clubs such as Leicester, Leeds, Southampton and Everton all behind them in the table as clever moves in the transfer market has also worked wonders.
Morgan Gibbs-White is the first major example of a sensational good buy, paying £25million for his services with a possible £17million in add ons, making him a very expensive buy, but what a fantastic signing he have been and at 23 really got his breakthrough at Premier League level, not really getting enough playing time at Wolves to be able to get to the level he is on at the moment.
Steve Cooper knew Gibbs-White from before, via the England youth teams and having him on loan at Swansea, probably made the move very easy.
Serge Aurier and Taiwo Awoniyi are two other great examples of signings that looks to be vital also for the coming seasons. Auries with great experience from top level of Europe and Awoniyi having had a great season in Bundesliga with Union Berlin before his arrival last summer.
It will be very interesting to follow this team and project going forward. Steve Cooper surprisingly never got the chance to show his class at Swansea, but with Forest we will hopefully see what this can lead to as scalps of wins against top teams are there to show, and with more steady performances week in and week out, you will hopefully have another type of fight next season, can they be climbing above the likes of Fulham, Brighton and Brentford.