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    Expelled players and the battle for control: the story of Steve Cooper's sacking from Nottingham Forest

    Steve Cooper was unable to realize the vision of Evangelos Marinakis for Nottingham Forest

    At the end there was a statement about Steve Cooper's departure from ” Nottingham Forest' could have included the phrase 'mutual contempt'.

    Cooper's tense relationship with Evangelos Marinakis is finally over – two years and three months later he becomes the Premier League's second managerial victim of the season.

    He will forever be remembered as the hero who pulled this famous old club back by his shoulders, uniting the players and fans and leading them to the top flight after 23 years away.

    >Cooper made those fans fall in love with him again at that time , when Forest have exhausted all ways to lose in the Championship. The end of this painful period in the desert means Cooper's achievements are the most significant since Brian Clough's magical reign (and that doesn't ignore the influence that Frank Clarke had after Clough in the 1990s).

    He was “Pontypridd”. Pep

    Keeping Forest in the top flight after a season that saw the arrival of 30 new players was arguably even more impressive and allowed the club to continue to build.

    There may never be another Forest manager who enjoyed Cooper's relationship with his team. fans. He was a “Pontypridd Pep” who understood the club's rich history and taught them to dream again. However, when managers leave football clubs, the situation inevitably gets worse.

    Few at this level sustain a run of one win in 13 games despite past achievements, and Cooper is sacked just two weeks after a discarded scaffold owner's accreditation pass was found in nearby bushes following a 5-0 drubbing by Fulham.

    The story of Cooper's departure from Nottingham will be portrayed as the panic of yet another club stretching beyond its capabilities. This is, of course, much more complicated. Cooper and Marinakis haven't spoken much in recent weeks. Their relationship had long since deteriorated, to the point where even phone calls were ignored.

    Marinakis was patient with Cooper, but in the end finally played. Photo: Getty Images/James Williamson

    Marinakis stayed with Cooper longer than anyone at the club could have imagined. The Greek billionaire has a fearsome reputation as a “trigger happy” man, which angers him.

    At Olympiacos, the Greek club he also owns, this may be justified. In Forest this is undeserved. He has high expectations and the results in recent months have not been good enough. After completing his takeover in May 2017, he sacked Mark Warburton, Aitor Karanka, Martin O'Neill, Sabri Lamouchi and Chris Hughton.

    Neither could have any complaints – indeed, it could be argued that Lamouchi and Hughton in particular were given more than enough time to change the results. Marinakis will feel the same applies to Cooper.

    Perhaps it was only fear of backlash from fans that allowed Cooper to continue limping along.

    Many fans who pay money every week to watch their club also sensed it was coming. You can think highly of someone and feel gratitude, but at the same time feel that he has lost his way. The fan base is becoming increasingly divided, and Cooper didn't deserve for the situation to become toxic. He famously came close to losing his job numerous times last season.

    The 4-0 defeat at Leicester in October 2022 was the highest-profile occasion on which Rafael Benitez has been suggested as a possible replacement . With Cooper's future uncertain, Wolverhampton and Southampton approached mediators regarding his possible appointment. A frantic few days ended with the Welshman signing a new contract worth £2.5 million a year.

    There were many other defining moments – after the 4-0 defeat at West Ham in February, Marinakis came seriously close to getting the axe. After a 2-1 defeat to Leeds on April 4, even Cooper thought he was leaving.

    Replacements were considered, including Patrick Vieira and even former Wolves manager Bruno Lage, but Cooper survived. He knew about Forest's behind-the-scenes work and used it to create a siege mentality at the club's training ground.

    'I gave you the players'

    He lost even more control over transfers in the summer as Forest were unhappy with some of the players he had previously recommended. Backroom staff assigned to the club were added.

    He angered Marinakis in the opening day defeat to Arsenal with post-match comments about the club's transfer business.

    Cooper was upset when seven new players arrived on deadline day as he felt they would have to play catch up to understand his methods. They have also suffered injuries following a turbulent pre-season. However, in terms of pounds spent, he has invested more in his team than most managers in Europe's top five leagues. Marinakis has spent more than £250 million on fees alone since his promotion and dreams of Forest becoming a top ten club.

    He is an owner whose mentality is: “I gave you the players, now it’s all for you.” it's over.”

    No doubt, Marinakis is demanding. He could not understand tactical decisions, team selection, game management and the inability to eliminate mistakes. There was no similar consistent, recognizable style of play. When they were left without striker Taiwo Awoniyi, the entire formation seemed to collapse and Cooper reverted to a low block.

    Forest have won just two of their 28 away games since promotion, losing 19 of them.


    Tension began to build in the locker room. Scotland international Scott McKenna has been frozen out after the club made it clear he would not receive a new contract.

    Cooper then had serious disagreements with Joe Worrall, the captain of the forest. On the morning of 5 November, the day of the game against Aston Villa, Worrall was informed that he would not be in the squad for the match. Reacting angrily, Worrall did not attend the game as he was not in the right mood.

    Club captain and promotion hero Joe Worrall was frozen out by Cooper. Photo: PA/Mike Egerton

    A few days later, he reported to the training ground where he had a violent confrontation with Cooper and was ordered to train with McKenna away from the main team. lineup before matches. Since Match Minus 2, and sometimes even earlier, they were given personal programs and were called up to train with the main team only when there were few of them.

    This situation occurred just a few weeks after that , how Worrall dealt with his uncle's tragic death. Two of Forest's promotion heroes were coldly discarded.

    Some players also clashed with Cooper and the coaching staff over what they saw as inconsistent team selection.

    Two summer players, Chelsea loanee Andrei Santos and £11m recruit Andrew Omobamidele, have not made a single league start, while Nuno Tavares and Gonzalo Montiel – the last World Cup winner with Argentina – have only one each so far. alone on your account. There will inevitably be questions about recruitment, and understandably so.

    As results have plummeted, the atmosphere at the training ground is said to have become “tense” in recent weeks.

    Cooper has upstaged former chairman Nicholas Randall K.C. and other senior key figures who fought for him at board meetings last season when his situation looked bleak, especially after the defeat to Leicester.

    2-2 home draw with Luton in which Forest missed twice after some strange substitutions, caused huge damage. Chaotic defeats to West Ham and Brighton added to the pressure. Following the home defeat to Brighton, there were violent clashes in the tunnel between Cooper's coaching staff and Roberto De Zerbi's backroom team.

    Following the 1-0 home defeat to Everton, Cooper and the team were ridiculed by some fans. This was a rare occurrence and seemed significant at the time. The final blow was a heavy defeat at Fulham, when Marinakis was taken off after the fourth goal.

    Although Cooper had managed games for Wolverhampton and Tottenham, he was on the verge of leaving: it was not that Marinakis refereed him in matches, but the point was to find a suitable replacement.

    What's next?

    Nuno Espirito Santo is ready to return to English football following his departure from Saudi Arabian champions Al Ittihad last month. He will have something to prove after a disappointing spell at Tottenham. He was doing wonders at Wolves before falling out with chairman Jeff Shea, and it was exciting to watch for three years.

    Julen Lopetegui, former Wolverhampton and Real Madrid manager, was initially interviewed. He is said to be hoping for a “big” job and sees himself as a contender for Manchester United (if Erik ten Hag leaves) or West Ham.

    Marco Silva was much admired, but a potential move fizzled out after after he signed a new contract with Fulham in October. Former Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Oliver Glasner held talks, but Marinakis did not convince him.

    Nuno Espirito Santo did an impressive job at Wolverhampton before struggling at Tottenham. Photo: NMC Pool/Paul Marriott. What about Cooper?

    Leaving Forest will be painful for him, but it will also be a relief. If Forest had sunk into the bottom three on his watch, it would have been awkward. He was in danger of tarnishing his legacy.

    His reputation remains relatively high and Crystal Palace are known to be admirers. Palace would not have to pay any compensation now if they replaced Roy Hodgson with the 44-year-old.

    When Cooper inevitably returns to the City Ground in charge of another team, the reception will be incredible. . Visit the palace on March 30.

    It is guaranteed a place in Forest history. With every fist bump he brought the club and its fans closer together.

    He will always be 'Super Cooper', but in the end there was no room for sentiment. Marinakis wanted more than his Premier League promotion manager could provide.

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