Nottingham Forest may soon become the latest team to make a managerial change during the current campaign. Paul Heckingbottom became the first Premier League head coach to be fired midseason earlier this week. The former Sheffield United boss was sacked after the club managed to grab just one victory in 14 domestic matches.
Forest’s current head coach, Steve Cooper, has done a fantastic overall job with the team since arriving in 2021. He guided the club to the Premier League for the first time in over 20 years ahead of the 2022/23 campaign. Forest then survived a serious relegation threat to remain in the English top flight during the current campaign. However, the club has struggled mightily in recent weeks.
Lopetegui could get the financial backing he wants at Forest
Forest currently sits 16th in the standings after dropping four consecutive league games. To make matters worse, the club embarrassingly lost 5-0 at the hands of Fulham on Wednesday. Even ahead of the midweek matchup, Cooper fielded questions regarding a possible sacking.
The manager was asked directly on Tuesday if he was nervous about being fired if they lost against Fulham. “I don’t think like that,” replied Cooper. “That is not a good way to think. It is like saying to a player ‘You have to play well, or you will not play again’ – it is not a thought process I believe in using.”
Nevertheless, the recent heavy defeat only compounds the pressure on Cooper. The Guardian is even now reporting that Forest brass is already compiling a wishlist of managerial candidates to potentially replace the coach. The news outlet claims that former Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui is among the top contenders for the position should Forest sack Cooper.
Lopetegui was a relatively strong success during his time with the fellow Premier League club. The Spanish coach arrived when Wolves sat bottom of the table during the 2022/23 campaign. Not only did he manage to save the club from relegation, but Wolves finished 13th in the standings last season.
However, Lopetegui and Wolves parted ways just days before the current campaign started due to the club’s precarious financial situation. This would likely not be an issue should Forest target the former Wolves manager. Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis recorded a net spend of about $266 million since the club earned promotion in the summer of 2022. Wolves, on the other hand, have a net spend of just $42 million during the same timeframe.
Palace likely to target Cooper to succeed Hodgson
Cooper, however, may not be out of a job for long if Forest lets him go. Crystal Palace is reportedly targeting the current Forest manager for the future. Mail Sport is claiming that Palace has shortlisted Cooper as a potential candidate to succeed Roy Hodgson. The veteran manager’s current contract with the Eagles expires at the end of the current campaign.
Palace has previously planned on targeting Cooper in the upcoming summer months. Nevertheless, the club is also not performing well during the 2023/24 season. If they continue to fall in the standings, Palace’s ownership may soon make a managerial move of its own.
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