Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom has praised Nottingham Forest’s January transfer business ahead of their play-off semi-final clash on Saturday, with the 44-year-old speaking to the Yorkshire Post.
Steve Cooper had already managed to get a tune out of his side before the winter window opened, turning the Reds around following their abysmal start to the 2021/22 campaign under predecessor Chris Hughton.
During last year’s summer window, Hughton didn’t manage to get the majority of his signings through the door until after the start of the campaign, one factor that played a part in the ex-Brighton manager’s downfall at the City Ground.
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In contrast to that, Forest moved early in January to recruit Keinan Davis and Steve Cook, with the latter joining from league rivals AFC Bournemouth on a permanent deal.
Their incoming business wasn’t finished there either, recruiting Richie Laryea to fill the wing-back area that needed depth and finishing their window with the additions of Jonathan Panzo and Sam Surridge.
Although Panzo has spent much of his time away from the senior squad since his arrival, Surridge has been crucial in the absence of loanee Davis and Lewis Grabban during the latter stages of this season in helping his new side to secure a top-six finish.
One man that was impressed with this business is upcoming opponent Heckingbottom, who said: “They’ve got obvious threats on the counter and down the right-hand side. They recruited really well in January, they made a lot of good signings.
“Although Steve (Cooper, the manager) had them playing really well in terms of how they set up, I think they came across a real settled way of playing which we see now.
“You can have a team who’s in good form but we’re playing a good team.”
The main positive from the winter window is the fact most of their recruits were permanent and although they were arguably forced into that considering they already had quite a few other loanees, these long-term additions will go on to help the club in the future.
Panzo may not be a regular starter now but he certainly has the potential to make himself a regular in the senior squad in the future and under the stewardship of Cooper, you would certainly back him to do well.
With Tobias Figueiredo potentially leaving at the end of the season as well, that could open up a spot for the 21-year-old in pre-season ahead of his potential inclusion in the first team next term.
Even loanee Davis could potentially make his move to the East Midlands in the coming months so Cooper certainly has one eye on the bigger picture, something that will benefit the Reds both during and after the Welshman’s tenure.
The second-tier side’s supporters won’t want to be thinking about life after Cooper considering how much of an impact he’s made during his time at the club so far – but ensuring the club thrives in the long run is important regardless of who is at the helm.