When Chris Hughton took charge at Nottingham Forest last October, it looked like the club was finally in safe hands, but 11 months on and they are preparing for life under their 15th boss within the last decade.
The Reds had been winless in their opening seven games of the 2021/22 campaign, losing six and drawing one, leaving them rock bottom of English football’s second tier.
And amid mounting pressure from fans, a 2-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough proved the final straw and Forest announced Hughton’s departure.
“It was long overdue,” Forest FanBase tells FansBet.
“He seemed like a great appointment initially but he couldn’t have achieved much less. Even the worst managers in our history have had a few successes along the way – Hughton was consistently and repeatedly disappointing.
“I really couldn’t believe how he seemed to stack bad decision upon bad decision week after week. It was apparent last season that he was unable to grasp the problems, let alone solve them.
“I was astonished that he was given this long as he didn’t even seem to be trying to save his job, just repeat the same errors every week. It was a massive relief to hear he had finally gone.
“Look at the few victories he achieved and they were nearly all against teams in the bottom half of the table. Things got worse and worse; from the start we were on the road to nowhere with him.
“There are quite a few contenders but for me he ranks as the all time worst.”
The former Republic of Ireland international arrived at the City Ground as one of the most experienced and respected managers in the Championship.
He had won promotion to the Premier League on three occasions with Newcastle United, Norwich City and most recently Brighton & Hove Albion.
The only job he’d had in the Championship in which he had failed to achieve promotion was with Birmingham City, but he did guide them to the play-offs.
The 62-year-old took charge of Forest in October 2020 following the departure of Sabri Lamouchi with the club bottom of the Championship, going on to successfully guide them to safety and a 17th-place finish in the process.
With numerous players out of contract, a substantial rebuild was needed, particularly in forward areas, but scoring goals continued to prove an issue for Hughton’s side.
But this season began terribly for Hughton as one point from their opening seven Championship matches meant the two-time European champions have endured their worst start to a season in 108 years.
If that wasn’t enough, before the international break, the Reds managed four shots on target against rivals Derby County, while in the two matches before that – against Wolves in the League Cup and a 1-0 loss to Stoke City – they failed to record a single shot on target.
“He never took the initiative,” claim Forest FanBase.
“Whether it was with selection, tactics or substitutions he never made a positive move.
“His mindset seemed to be that he started with a point and would try to hold onto it and hope that by a stroke of luck we might then win.
“If we went a goal down he’d rather try and keep it to one than actively respond and make changes to ask questions of the opposition.
“We always played on the back foot and were very predictable and easy to outwit.
“On top of that, despite his reputation as a ‘nice man’, few managers will have been less popular with his squad.
“It spoke volumes that not one publicly expressed regret at his departure. Right until the final days of his tenure he was alienating players for no apparent reason.
“Picking fights with players over non-football matters. Dropping them without explanation and telling them the reason was ‘because I can.’”
Forest acted quickly to appoint Hughton’s successor, with Steve Cooper filling the vacancy less than a week after his sacking.
The former Swansea City manager has been appointed as the new head coach on a contract until June 2024.
Forest targeted Cooper because of his record of working with and improving young players, having had successful spells as Liverpool’s academy director and with England age-group teams, winning the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.
The 41-year-old was in charge at the Liberty Stadium for two seasons, where he led them to the Championship play-offs in back-to-back seasons.
“Steve Cooper could never do what Hughton did,” says Forest FanBase.
“He’s a winner. He’s not going to repeat the same mistakes for a year, the City Ground crowd won’t let him anyway.
“I think the fans will have patience with Cooper. We just want to see progress, however slow.
“As long as we are going in the right direction I think we will get behind him. If he fulfils his intention to use the talent constantly delivered by our fantastic Academy too it will also count in his favour.
“He must be positive, learn from his mistakes and trust his players. Forest fans will forgive the defeats if we play on the front foot and ask questions of the opposition. The results take care of themselves then.
“We want a manager who picks the team on merit. Creates genuine, healthy competition for places. Involves the whole squad, emphasise the importance of everyone at the club and the honour in wearing the shirt to the few selected.
“Every player, in each position, should know what he requires from them and know if they are the one who is able to consistently deliver then they will be picked.
“He must create a strong culture at the club, build trust and loyalty. He’s made a good start, he must make a huge effort to stay engaged and not totally isolated as Hughton did.”
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