Steve Cooper in talks with Nottingham Forest after Chris Hughton is sacked by Championship club

Former Swansea boss Steve Cooper is in talks with Nottingham Forest after Chris Hughton was sacked on Thursday; Cooper's Swans narrowly missed out on Premier League promotion via Championship play-offs last season

Steve Cooper (PA)
Image: Talks between Nottingham Forest and Steve Cooper's representatives are said to be at a relatively early stage

Steve Cooper is in talks with Nottingham Forest over becoming their new manager following the sacking of Chris Hughton on Thursday.

The former Swansea boss, who just missed out on promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs last term, is the leading candidate to take over at Forest following a run of seven Championship games without a win at the start of this season.

Cooper's track record of improving young players at the Liberty Stadium, and previously working with youth teams at the FA, makes him particularly attractive to the Forest hierarchy, Sky Sports News has been told.

Forest currently have 14 members of the first team under the age of 25, including the highly-regarded attacker Brennan Johnson - a summer target for Premier League Brentford.

Talks between Forest and Cooper's representatives are said to be at a relatively early stage, so it is likely caretaker manager Steven Reid will be in charge for the clash with Huddersfield on Saturday.

Former Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder was also among the favourites to take over at Forest, with initial talks held but the club decided to pursue other managerial options.

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Highlights from the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough

Having overseen Forest's worst start to a season in 108 years, Hughton's final game in charge was a 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough at the City Ground on Wednesday.

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Former Newcastle United, Birmingham City, Norwich City and Brighton boss Hughton, who was appointed in October 2020 with Forest bottom of the league with zero points, became the 19th manager to lose his job at the City Ground since 2011, continuing the trend of Forest changing their boss at least once every year since Billy Davies.

Sabri Lamouchi remains the longest-serving manager in the last decade; in charge for just over 15 months.

Chris Hughton
Image: Chris Hughton replaced Sabri Lamouchi at the City Ground in October 2020

Forest confirmed that first-team coach Reid will take temporary charge after joining the club full-time in August, having previously combined coaching duties with Steve Clarke's Scotland backroom staff.

Hughton was sacked having won just 14 of his 53 games in charge and Forest said: "The club would like to place on record its appreciation for Chris' efforts. Chris joined the club in a difficult period for everyone in football and around the world and we thank him for the way he has conducted himself during his tenure.

"The search for the permanent successor has begun and the club will update supporters in due course. The club would like to wish Chris all the best in his future career."

Analysis: What next for Forest?

Nottingham Forest boss Chris Hughton (PA)
Image: Forest have won just one point so far this season – recorded in the 1-1 draw at Derby last month prior to the international break

Sky Sports EFL Editor Simeon Gholam:

"It seemed like a dream appointment for Nottingham Forest when he arrived last year. In fact, it was only a month ago when the chairman of the club was describing his acquisition as the 'envy of a number of Premier League clubs' before the first home game of the season.

"How quickly things can change.

"Here was a man in Chris Hughton with a near-exemplary record in the Championship, winning promotions with Newcastle in 2010 and Brighton in 2017, and taking Birmingham into the play-offs in 2012.

"His football was not always the most pleasing on the eye, but it usually got results. On this occasion, however, patience amongst the fans quickly wore thin.

"Now, with the club rooted to the bottom of the Championship table, you have to wonder where they turn next. Forest possess an unbalanced squad and have just sacked the exact type of manager they would look to recruit in this type of situation.

"Nottingham Forest appointed a new CEO in the summer as they brought in Dane Murphy following his success in helping Barnsley get to the play-offs. The ownership and structure of the two clubs and the way they are run is very different, however.

"His next appointment will be crucial. You only have to look at the size of some of the clubs in League One to know that no club is too big to go down from the second tier."

Analysis: 'Deep-rooted problems need to be unpicked'

Sky Sports EFL expert David Prutton:

"It is not surprising - and I do not mean that in a callous way by any stretch of the imagination. He had been there since October last year and, in Championship terms, almost a year is a hell of a long time to try and get things right at a football club.

"It feels to me like there's a lot of deep-rooted problems there that need to be unpicked. Forest have gone through a ridiculous amount of players over the last two or three seasons, with the turnover in the high 80s, if I remember rightly. But if you look at the team [that played Middlesbrough], that's a team that should not be bottom of the league. That's a team that should not be propping up the rest of the division and I think Chris - as all managers do when their teams are not playing well - has paid the price.

"There is a squad there that needs to look at themselves, but having seen them over the course of this year, having seen how well they did under Sabri Lamouchi in the season that ended in heartbreak when they missed out on the play-offs, they have played in a way where Chris had to set up defensively and had to stop what was going wrong at the back. At times, I think that has sacrificed them going forward.

"In a couple of games that we covered, it almost felt as though they were settling for a point with 70 minutes on the clock, which, when fans are not in, is a little easier to do. When they are in, that frustration comes in and I think that was very clearly shown against Middlesbrough, where even sections of the home crowd were calling for Chris to go. That is extremely unsavoury but I think, given the open forum that is a football crowd, it was to be expected.

"His credentials are there for all to see. That success that he has had in the second tier - being able to take teams back into the Premier League - has been something Forest have been crying out for since I played for them the first time around in the late 1990s. But a succession of squads, players and managers that have not been up to scratch leaves them where they are right now."

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