Steve Cooper has been at Nottingham Forest for just over a week. In two matches he has signalled a statement of intent and showcased why supporters would be foolish to judge someone on hearsay.
Some cynics doubted the appointment of the 41-year-old. Some Swansea fans advised that it wouldn’t be much different to the style deployed under Chris Hughton.
Despite him leading the Swans to successive play-off campaigns, plenty weren’t enthralled with his style. Protecting one-goal leads, bypassing the midfield and an ultra-defensive system were what we could expect…apparently!
Just a couple of games into his tenure, the football looks as far away from Hughton’s rigid approach as possible. At Barnsley, the Reds had a go and during the last half an hour, they blew the opposition away.
Bearing in mind Forest have the same players, the transformation has been remarkable. Cooper is saying the right stuff and more crucially his team are getting points on the pitch.
One aspect of last night’s game left supporters purring. With the Reds trailing by a goal to nil, Lewis Grabban stripped off and the fourth official prepared his board.
Has this been Hughton, it’d have almost certainly been Philip Zinckernagel coming off. The Danish performer had spent the first-hour playing in a makeshift striker role; with limited success.
Instead up came the number ‘3’ on Tom Bramall’s board. Cooper withdrew Tobias Figueiredo and switch from 3-4-3 to 4-2-3-1.
Horses for courses: Forest boss Cooper extinguishes Hughton theory as myth
Hughton made countless excuses about the squad he had at his disposal. Ultimately, Cooper made a mockery of the former boss’ use of the 4-2-3-1 system last night.
Previously it had been rigid with attacking players dropping deep to get on the ball and caution being the order of the day.
Here it worked a dream. Players marauded forward, Ryan Yates came into his own in midfield and Brennan Johnson looked unplayable during the final half-hour.
Forest fans aren’t a picky bunch. We don’t demand a team that wins every week but as a club, we don’t accept continuously losing games with a whimper.
The definition of insanity is deemed to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. That was Hughton down to the ground.
In a matter of days, Cooper has lifted the spirits among the fan base, got his team believing in themselves and has ultimately overseen a massive win by making an in-game change.
That makes for a refreshing start and the new head coach already seems like a perfect fit for Nottingham Forest.