This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Nottingham Forest have enjoyed a magnificent start to life under Steve Cooper.
On Tuesday night, the Reds made it four wins on the bounce, scoring two goals in stoppage time to beat Bristol City.
Forest have now picked up 13 points from a possible 15 under Cooper, following wins over Barnsley, Birmingham and Blackpool.
The Reds have climbed to 12th in the Championship, only four points off the play-offs ahead of tonight’s fixtures in the league.
Can we see Forest being genuine top-six contenders this term? Here, we discuss…
I think they have every chance of competing for a play-off spot this season.
Steve Cooper has come in and has done a brilliant job thus far, but Forest fans will be hoping that they are not still within this honeymoon period, similar to what we saw with Frankie McAvoy at the end of last season.
However, all the signs are pointing towards a continuation of this form.
Cooper has an excellent track record of working wonders with young players, and with the plethora of talent that Forest have coming through, I expect that he will only improve the likes of Brennan Johnson, Djed Spence, Alex Mighten, Max Lowe, and even the players on the fringe of the squad.
Cooper and Forest seem like an excellent match at the moment. They will be tested as the season goes on, but there is no reason why they should not be setting their sights on the play-off positions.
We will find out a lot in looking to answer this question in the next three matches. In terms of the underlying numbers Forest are running a bit hot at the moment but one thing that does not measure is their confidence levels.
Cooper has clearly instilled a lot of belief and optimism into the ranks and with that attitude sustained they can definitely build a play-off push this term. After all, Cooper has achieved a top six finish in 100% of his seasons in Championship management.
The tests of Fulham, Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield United in the next few weeks will tell us a lot about Forest’s top six credentials and whether they have the defensive resolve to deal with some of the most talented attacking contingents in the division.
Time will tell, but the early signs are extremely positive, I will lean towards saying yes they are contenders.
Quiz: Did these 25 Nottingham Forest transfers actually happen?
Perhaps this is a bit premature considering they were behind at Bristol City until stoppage time, but they seem to be unstoppable at the moment and have the team spirit to continue their push up the table.
Steve Cooper has shown already that he’s a good fit for Forest, something Chris Hughton failed to do throughout his tenure, so that will be a huge reason for encouragement at the City Ground. If Lyle Taylor can get into form after his brace last night, you could easily argue they have the attacking firepower needed to finish in the top six.
Scott McKenna and Joe Worrall will be reliable figures at the back and with Djed Spence and Max Lowe proving to be effective as wing-backs, everything seems to be clicking into place.
It will be interesting to see how they respond to their first defeat under the Welshman, because that will tell us a lot about Forest’s mentality, but there’s no reason why they can’t be in with a shout of reaching the play-offs by the end of the 2021/22 campaign. They have the calibre of players to do so.
There’s still plenty of time left in the season, but Cooper needs to take games one-by-one if they are to continue their exceptional form.