Sky Sports pundit Michael Dawson was left stunned by one decision that Nottingham Forest head coach Steve Cooper made yesterday. The Reds lost 3-2 to Liverpool at Anfield but showcased a steely resistance that hasn’t been evident in recent weeks.
The shocking turn of events came prior to the kick-off. When the team sheet came out Brennan Johnson was a glaring omission, with Cooper deciding to leave his top goalscorer on the bench.
It seemed to be an inspired decision. Forest largely frustrated the hosts and the atmosphere inside Anfield was nervy, anxious and relatively quiet, with the Reds growing into the game.
An entertaining second half saw Johnson summonsed from the bench and he almost got a late leveller. He had Alisson all ends up after chipping the ball towards goal but his effort cannoned back off the bar.
Dawson wasn’t particularly impressed to see him on the bench. He admitted that he feared for the Reds when the teams were announced and didn’t agree with Cooper’s thinking.
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He told Sky Sports: “I’m very surprised. The main threat is Brennan Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White with Awoniyi as the number nine.
“They’re going to sit deep with the team he’s set up. He’s scared because you see what Liverpool did to Manchester United at Anfield.
“This is Nottingham Forest with their away record to he’s concerned. You look at the threat going forwards and he’s talked about Brennan not being in the greatest of form but it’s a concern, a worry. I fear for Forest, I really do.”
Dawson stunned by one Cooper decision
The 43-year-old has been questioned recently and rightly so. His tactics, substitutions and strategies going into games have all been questioned and they have left a lot to be desired.
Yesterday, however, he got things absolutely spot on. Forest frustrated Liverpool for 45 minutes and it was so frustrating to concede so early in the second half once again.
The Reds’ survival bid does still have a heartbeat. Just. Forest can take heart from their performance yesterday but right now they do need points instead as they look to pull away from the relegation zone.
Dawson was perhaps proved wrong. As much as Forest didn’t have the outlet of Johnson going forwards, his absence did at least make them somewhat more resolute, certainly defensively.