Last chance saloon for Steve Cooper?

Can Steve Cooper save himself once again? George Edwards looks at what went wrong at Craven Cottage and how the manager can save his job, with it seemingly hanging by a thread

Everything was wrong with Forest’s performance at Fulham. No drive. No passion. No intent. That famous badge deserves a whole lot better than what it got on Wednesday and so do the supporters, travelling in their numbers, week-in week-out, to back their players. The onus is on them, as the club seemingly gives Steve Cooper one last chance.

The football club is seemingly a mess at the moment. Marinakis storming out before the end at Fulham. Players swapping shirts and laughing after a 5-0 defeat. Insensitive social media posts. The list goes on. Now more than ever, it looks like Steve Cooper’s strength is slowly and sadly wavering, with the fans looking to be the only ones keeping him in his post.

Rumours have circulated that Scott McKenna and club captain Joe Worrall have been training away from the first team – a move that seems very unlike Steve Cooper. Yes, there are reports of a strained relationship, but the affection and respect between the pair has been evident on multiple occasions, shown at its best after Forest’s win at Chelsea. If the story was leaked to turn fans against Cooper, it’s had the opposite effect, with many on social media sharing the thought that this isn’t the manager.

Four losses in a row is not a run of form anyone wants, but Forest and Cooper have been there before. The manager has shown his capability to turn bad situations into constructive ones, and it was going reasonably well until the Everton game. Until that point, while only winning three games, the players responded to his tactical changes and ran like hell for him and for the badge. That effort and drive has been lacking in the last two performances, something that must return.

It’s a big claim to say the manager has lost the dressing room and I’m in no position to know whether that’s the case. What I can see is that the attitude of many needs to improve drastically. Post-Fulham, Cooper said “We did not show one ounce of desire in duels and races,” before taking the blame for that. Those things are something individuals must bring, and the likes of Sangaré, Dominguez, Aina, etc. have undoubted quality but, to win the fans over again, they must show that desire that has been missing over recent games.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Cooper changes the line-up drastically for Wolves. Players like Neco Williams, Moussa Niakhaté, Ryan Yates and Morgan Gibbs-White get it. They will run for the shirt no matter what and in what unfortunately could be the last game for Forest’s hero, he will want players who will give their all.

Being part of that away end at Fulham was special. Not many other clubs would sing like that being 3, 4 or 5-0 down, and it’s not the first time Reds fans have shown that. They have made clear that no matter what the outcome, they will be on the manager’s side. Steve Cooper always seems to pull a result out of the hat when he needs it most. Today, more than ever, he needs to do his magic once again.

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