Even the most loyal of Steve Cooper’s supporters will know that there is unlikely to be any way back from Nottingham Forest’s latest capitulation on the road. Change is surely coming after Fulham, revelling in the return of their zest in the final third, pushed Cooper closer to the brink with a devastating performance.
Fulham were outstanding, Alex Iwobi and Raúl Jiménez both scoring twice before Tom Cairney made it five, though they could not have asked for more obliging opponents.
Forest, who have picked up four away points this season, barely competed. Their owner, Evangelos Marinakis, could be forgiven for leaving his seat in the directors’ box long before full time. Perhaps, after watching his side fall to their fourth consecutive defeat, he had some calls to make.
It will not come as a surprise to Cooper if the sack follows. He apologised to Forest’s travelling fans at the end and could not believe they were still singing his name. “It’s embarrassing,” he said. “I’m grateful but I don’t deserve it. It’s embarrassing to think I can get that on the back of what they’ve seen.”
Steve Cooper is facing mounting pressure after Nottingham Forest’s 5-0 defeat by Fulham at Craven Cottage, but the Forest manager insists he does not fear for his job. Raul Jiménez and Alex Iwobi scored two goals a piece and Tom Cairney added Fulham’s fifth, by which time the Forest owner, Evangelos Marinakis, had seen enough.
The Greek shipping magnate cut a furious figure in the director’s box for much of the second half, during which the home support taunted Cooper with chants of “sacked in the morning”, before heading for the exit after Iwobi had added Fulham’s fourth in the 73rd minute. A post on social media showed what appeared to be Marinakis’s discarded accreditation lanyard, which had allegedly been thrown into a bush in nearby front garden.
The Forest supporters, however, continued to serenade Cooper throughout the second half, and at full-time, when Cooper stood before the away end and held his hands up apologetically.
Steve Cooper is clinging onto his job after a five-goal thrashing from Fulham handed Nottingham Forest a fourth successive Premier League defeat.
Ominously for Cooper, Evangelos Marinakis, no stranger to dispensing with managers, is in axe-wielding form after Tuesday’s dismissal of Diego Martinez, head coach of the other club he owns, Olympiacos, despite them being third in the Greek Super League. After the fourth goal, Marinakis stormed out of Craven Cottage. According to reports on social media, he threw his accreditation lanyard into a nearby bush.
Afterwards, Cooper and his shame-faced players faced the fans. Cooper held up his hands to apologise for the debacle and listened, visibly moved, as the still-adoring away support chanted his name. After taking Forest from the depths of the Championship to Premier League safety in often swashbuckling style, the love remains deep.
Even after seeing their team suffer the mother of all collapses at Craven Cottage, Nottingham Forest’s supporters were still singing at full-time and it was Steve Cooper’s name on their lips.
They will be forever grateful for his contribution to their club. How he took over when they were bottom of the Championship. How he led them to the Premier League. How he kept them there.
Cooper approached the away end after this evening of embarrassment. He showed them his hands. They showed him their love. If this is goodbye, it is a sorry way to go.
Cooper can only hope Evangelos Marinakis is not in a two-for-one mood, having already sacked the manager of the other club he owns this week. He does not want to suffer the same fate that befell Diego Martinez of Olympiacos, though this fourth straight Premier League loss piled on the pressure and then some. Not least because Marinakis was at Craven Cottage to witness it.
It is understood Marinakis did not see the scenes between the supporters and Cooper at the end, having left his seat with 20 minutes to spare. The Forest owner’s accreditation lanyard was even allegedly found abandoned in the bush of a local front garden, suggesting he exited in one hell of a huff.