Nottingham Forest:

A thumping 3-0 victory over Preston saw Nottingham Forest go into the international break in style as they look to bounce back from what was the club’s worst start to a campaign for over a century.

The victory continued their resurgence under new boss Steve Cooper, who has picked up 18 points from a possible 27 since taking charge back in September – a tally bettered only by Fulham and Bournemouth in that period.

It’s a run that has seen them climb to 13th in the Championship table, having at one time been rock bottom with just one point from a possible 21, and now fans are even daring to dream a promotion play-off push come the second half of the season.

“Cooper’s start at Forest has been nothing short of impressive,” Steven from 1865: Nottingham Forest podcast tells FansBet.

“To take them from rock bottom of the Championship to just four points off the playoffs, it’s a remarkable turnaround.

“Not only have the results been good, but the way he’s adapted to the job and the way he’s come in and taken this group of players on deserves a lot of credit.

Nottingham Forest 2021

“The way he speaks to the media is refreshing and honest and is appreciated by the fans. If you look at the way the team is playing, we’re more on the front foot while the levels the players are playing at is so much higher than under Chris Hughton.

“It’s just a pleasure to watch Forest again and to see them try and win games and play in a positive manner.”

Cooper arrived at the City Ground following the departure of former Republic of Ireland, Newcastle and Brighton boss Chris Hughton.

The Reds were winless in their opening seven games, losing six and drawing one, leaving them rock bottom of English football’s second tier.

After mounting pressure from fans, a 2-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough proved the final straw and Forest announced Hughton’s departure.

Ex-Chelsea skipper John Terry had been linked with the role but Cooper was Forest’s first choice, and the club paid compensation to Swansea to land the former England U17 boss, a price worth paying according to Steven.

“He’s given players a confidence and a belief in their ability,” he says.

“The likes of Ryan Yates, who is playing at a different level than under Chris Hughton, and Jack Colback, who has come in from the wilderness a little bit who is now playing like a top-end midfielder again.

“Players when they go onto the pitch know exactly what their jobs are and how to perform them as well; that has been a real transformation from what we saw under Christ Hughton.

“We’re now playing on the front foot and look to pass the ball, play a more attractive style, but take the game to the opposition as well.

“Playing three at the back too has given us more solidity, but has also given wing-backs like Max Lowe and Djed Spence to really come to the fore and the whole set-up suits the players we have and Cooper deserves credit for that.”

They sole defeat of Cooper’s reign so far came against Championship promotion favourites Fulham, who put four past the Reds on October 24th.

But since then, draws against QPR and Sheffield United, along with that win over Preston, has given fans, who at one stage were preparing themselves for a relegation battle, a newfound sense of optimism.

Steve Cooper

“The goals for the season have changed from two months ago.”

“The aim when Cooper came in was to stay up and get out of trouble and then kick on next season and build from there.

“I don’t think anybody expected the surge in form we’ve seen and to be only a few points off the play-offs does make you start to believe anything is possible this season.

“The priority for Forest before January is to get ourselves into a solid mid-table position where we can push for the play-offs and I think that will give Steve Cooper strength in the transfer market when it comes to going out looking for players.

“If we’re in that position in January then I think the way the team is playing, Forest could kick-on and get a top-six place.

“That’s strange given that only a few weeks ago we looked like relegation fodder, but we’ve only lost one of our last 10 games and that was to a Fulham side that are flying at the moment.

“It’s nice to be looking at Forest going up the table and actually achieving something of note, whereas a few weeks ago all we were hoping for was survival and trying to get away from danger. It’s been an incredible turnaround.”

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