By PA Sport Staff
Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has ended speculation over manager Steve Cooper’s future by confirming the Welshman will keep his job.
Cooper had come under mounting pressure after Forest’s 2-1 loss at relegation-rivals Leeds extended their winless Premier League run to eight matches.
Forest’s fourth straight league defeat on the road has left them above the bottom three only on goal difference.
"No one denies that our Club is in a difficult position in the Premier League, but we wish to end the speculation and the false and disruptive reporting in the media to confirm that Steve Cooper remains our manager at Nottingham Forest."
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) April 5, 2023
Marinakis has moved quickly to help stabilise the club with nine fixtures remaining by giving Cooper his backing amid “false and disruptive reporting in the media”.
The Greek billionaire said in a statement: “No one denies that our club is in a difficult position in the Premier League, but we wish to end the speculation and the false and disruptive reporting in the media to confirm that Steve Cooper remains our manager at Nottingham Forest.
“We have all been disappointed with recent performances and it is very clear that a lot of hard work needs to be done to address this urgently. Results and performances must improve immediately.
“Now is the time for everyone connected with our club, from us as owners, to the board, our supporters, backroom staff, coaches and players – to come together and fight to secure our status in the Premier League.
“There can be no time for distractions, rumours and speculation. There is only time for hard work, determination, a commitment from Steve and the players to getting the results we need and, of course, the continued magnificent support of the fans of Nottingham Forest.”
Cooper, who guided Forest to promotion to the top flight with victory in last season’s Sky Bet Championship play-off final, signed a new contract last October.
He insisted after his side’s defeat at Elland Road that he was not worried about his own future.
“I respect the question and I understand it 100 per cent, but I’m not that guy that thinks like that,” he said.
“I always think of the greater good of the club, so any sort of worry, disappointment, frustration I’m feeling right now is the fact that Forest have lost a game they could have done so much better in.
“That’s just the way I’m wired. I’ve trained myself just to focus on the stuff I can control and work as hard as I can every single day, believe in my work and stay true to it. That’s just where I’m at.”
Forest’s sole league win on the road this season was at bottom club Southampton in early January, but the former England Under-17s and Swansea boss said he trusted in himself and his players to secure their top-flight status.
He added: “I really believe in the players, I really believe in what we do and really believe in the club and it’s a bit frustrating now because we just played like we did.
“There was an opportunity to go 13th in the league, build a bit of a gap and obviously Leeds were going for the same thing as well and there’s frustration around that.”
Leeds climbed five places up to 13th – still only two points above the relegation zone – and have collected 10 points from Javi Gracia’s six league games in charge.
Gracia has a 50 per cent win ration since replacing Jesse Marsch in February following wins against Southampton, Wolves and Forest and said defensive discipline had been key to his side’s latest success.
Very little to separate the teams at the bottom 😬 pic.twitter.com/ZjCMoVwkXi
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 4, 2023
The Spaniard said “I’m very, very proud with the attitude of the team defending.
“I have seen many games and know how difficult it is to be well organised during all the game and concentrated all the game.
“We did it in a crucial game in the best moment for us. We’ve made an important step and now we’re thinking about the next.”