'Steve Cooper has made an immediate impact': The lowdown on Blackpool's upcoming opponents Nottingham Forest
Blackpool return to action this weekend after the international break with a trip to the City Ground.
The Seasiders are one of the form sides in the Championship at this moment in time, having won four of their last six games.
But Saturday’s opponents Nottingham Forest are also enjoying a good moment under new boss Steve Cooper.
The former Swansea City manager has had an immediate impact since joining the club on September 21, helping guide Forest away from the relegation zone and up to 17th.
Cooper replaced Chris Hughton, who was given his marching orders after six defeats in Forest’s opening seven matches left the East Midlands outfit bottom of the table.
Ahead of this weekend’s encounter, The Gazette caught up with Sarah Clapson from the Nottingham Post to get the lowdown on Blackpool’s opponents.
- What has Steve Cooper done differently? He's turned it around very quickly.
He's had an immediate effect. The biggest thing is he's given players belief. They look much more confident out on the pitch now.
And he's released the shackles. Joe Lolley said the other week how he's now being allowed to play with freedom, which is benefitting him on the pitch.
Cooper has got his man-management spot on so far. He's also been very good tactically. The switch to a 3-4-3 has reaped instant rewards. Forest have suddenly started scoring goals and are going into games believing they can get a result.
One of the criticisms levelled at Hughton was that if Forest went 1-0 up, he'd try to defend that lead, which is always a gamble in the Championship. It sometimes looked as though the team were trying not to lose games; under Cooper, they are going out there to win.
- What went wrong for Chris Hughton?
To put it simply, results.
Last season was pretty miserable, but there was an acceptance that Hughton had come in with a big job on his hands and the campaign already under way.
Big changes were made to the dressing room in the summer, though, and still the results didn't come.
Forest were losing by fine margins, but performances were poor and they just didn't look like improving.
Hughton didn't get the best out of the squad he had. Being wedded to a certain formation and not trying something different to change things didn't help his cause.
- What was the reaction among the fans to Jordan Gabriel's departure? Has he been missed?
It's always a tough one when a young player who has come up through the ranks moves on. Jordan had been at the club for a long time and fans always like to see one of their own make it in the team.
I think there was a general feeling that it was a deal which suited all parties in the end, though.
Forest had a tough start to the season and Jordan had had a few difficult games. Something needed to change in the team.
Once it became clear Forest were looking to strengthen at right-back, it always looked likely he'd move on. In fairness to Forest, they went on to sign Djed Spence on loan, who has been terrific.
Long-term, Jordan needed regular game time, and he probably wouldn't have got that if he'd stayed at the City Ground.
Most Forest fans wished him well, though - except if he plays on Saturday!
- Having recovered from a poor start, what's the realistic aim for the season now?
It's really difficult to predict how the rest of the season is going to go.
It's been a great start for Cooper, but he'll be the first to admit there will be bumps in the road ahead.
Forest will want to get as far away from the relegation zone as they can, and just push up the table, then see where it takes them.
If they can make progress from last year, I think most will be happy. That will set them up nicely to have a real go under Cooper next season.
- Which players are likely to be injured/unavailable for Saturday?
Jordi Osei-Tutu (hamstring) and Loic Mbe Soh (thigh) are both injured.
Summer signings Braian Ojeda and Mohamed Drager haven't been available up until now. They had to quarantine after the last international break and then needed time to get up to sharpness. The hope is they will have done that during this fortnight.
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