Nottingham Forest have looked revitalised in recent weeks and former player Garry Birtles has noticed too, as he told Nottinghamshire Live that the side are a ‘joy to watch.’
The Championship side struggled under Chris Hughton and rather than aiming for a play-off place as they envisaged under the former Brighton boss, they instead found themselves sinking lower and lower towards the bottom of the Championship and potentially into the depths of League One.
It led to Hughton being relieved of his duties and he was soon replaced by former Swansea manager Steve Cooper.
Now, with a new lease of life at the club under the new boss, Forest have started picking up results and looking much brighter – and Garry Birtles has noticed it too, as he spoke out about the way they’ve performed in recent weeks.
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Most notably, he was full of praise for midfielders Ryan Yates and Jack Colback, who have recently drawn criticism for playing together due to both men being more defensive in the way that they play rather than pushing forward.
It hasn’t stopped them from getting some good results though over the course of the last few weeks, with the side now unbeaten in their last four. Three of those games were wins too.
Speaking about the newly-refreshed Forest side and their performances, Birtles told Nottinghamshire Live: “There seems to be a freedom with Yates and Colback when they played.
Before, you wouldn’t have said that if those two were playing. Now, it looks as though they have been lifted.
“The shackles have come off both of them. It’s like they’ve been told, ‘right, just go do what you do naturally’. That’s what you want to hear from a manager – ‘go and express yourself’. You’ve got to give Steve Cooper so much praise already, because it’s obvious things have changed massively in the way they approach things.
“That won’t just be in games, I’m sure things will have changed massively on the training pitch as well.
“It’s so important that you are happy going into work. It certainly looks like that is the case for the players at the moment. Everything has been freed up. It’s a joy to watch.”
It’s true that results and performances have certainly improved under the new manager and they’ll be hoping that they continue to pick up those wins and three points on a regular basis so that they can begin to start dreaming of a potential promotion push again, rather than a potential drop down into the third tier.
Judging by his performances and results so far, it’s clear to see Steve Cooper has breathed new life into that Nottingham Forest team. They look a whole different side and are much more threatening and dangerous and more able to wrap up results.
If he can keep it up going forward, then there is no reason why Forest couldn’t be a force near the top end of the Championship table.
It’s early days still yet though both in terms of Cooper’s tenure in charge and in the season, so there is still a lot to be seen from both the manager and the club. For now though, they’ll just have to keep on ensuring they get the positive results.