As the song goes, ‘Super Cooper, wears the Garibaldi, Forest are having fun’. Today, the Nottingham Forest head coach brings up one year in charge and it’s been one hell of a ride!

As a 35-year-old – I had a big paper-round – Cooper sits close to the iconic Brian Clough at the top table of men to have brought the feel-good factor to the banks of the River Trent.

For fans of a certain age, he might even eclipse him as the greatest of all time. That may sound extreme but some supporters must have thought that following Forest was built on a staple diet of negativity and underachievement.

From the moment Cooper waltzed into the City Ground, things have been different. Forest have showcased desire, commitment and the players have adopted a willingness to buy into the ethos of this fantastic football club.

Cooper one year Forest
(Photo; Jon Hobley; MI News; NurPhoto; Getty Images)

The fan base would have taken a mid-table finish last term. After the pragmatic tediousness of Chris Hughton, an identity and winning some football matches would have made for a decent 2021/22 campaign.

Instead, Forest fans got free-flowing football played on the front foot, a group of players who worshipped each other like brothers and a day out at Wembley; a day that saw Forest end 23 years of hurt with a return to the Premier League.

That is largely down to Cooper. Credit must go to Dane Murphy and Miltiadis Marinakis too; with the pair thought to be influential in bringing the ex-Swansea boss to the City Ground.

Cooper brings up one year at Forest and fans are having fun

Forest under Cooper has been a lot of fun. Last-minute winners frequently came in the Championship and unlike those before him, every player improved under his management last season.

The 2022/23 campaign has proved a struggle. Cooper should be cut some slack, however, with plenty of credit in the bank from an astonishing season that saw the Reds achieve the unthinkable.

This time last year, Forest were bottom of the table with just four points from eight games. They finished fourth, with Cooper leading the Reds to 22 wins in 38 fixtures.

That run saw Cooper’s charges reach the play-offs. Up until the penultimate game of the season, the Reds were actually in with a shout of reaching the Premier League by finishing in second place.

Even the play-offs didn’t faze Cooper. Nightmares of Yeovil, Blackpool and Swansea came flashing back for supporters but Forest’s display against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in the play-offs was arguably their most complete performance.

And then there was Wembley. What a day. A perfect performance and a fitting outcome as the former England under-17 manager made it a case of third time lucky on a personal level when it came to the play-offs.

An own goal sent Forest into the top flight but Huddersfield never laid a glove on the Reds. That was largely down to Cooper’s meticulous approach and his team’s pin-point execution. VAR also played its part in the victory!

Personally, I don’t recall a season so enjoyable as the 2021/22 campaign. Travelling home and away and backing the team is something that I’ve done for over 20 years.

Sometimes it’s felt like more of a chore. Every now and then I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about embarrassing days at Chester and Salisbury. There has also been Gary Megson, Philippe Montainer and who can forget Hughton’s mind-numbingly boring approach to football?

Cooper one year Forest
(Photo; Jon Hobley; MI News; NurPhoto; Getty Images)

As a result of those disappointing periods, the biggest compliment that Cooper can be paid is that he’s made supporters look forward to watching Forest once again.

He fist pumps when we win and he hurts with us when we lose. Under the 42-year-old, Forest fans really haven’t been able to get enough!

The Premier League is proving tough but after signing 22 new players there was always likely to be a settling-in period.

If any manager can get the Reds out of their current slump it’s the man who has put the fun back into supporting Nottingham Forest.

Here’s to many more years of Cooper on Trentside.

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