Nottingham Forest slumped to a 5-0 loss at Fulham to raise the pressure on Steve Cooper; Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis left Craven Cottage 20 minutes before full time amid rumours Cooper will be sacked; Cooper: 'The supporters that were let down, but that is from all of us.'
Thursday 7 December 2023 17:25, UK
Steve Cooper again dismissed fears about losing his job as pressure mounts on the Nottingham Forest boss.
Forest were hammered 5-0 at Fulham on Wednesday - a fourth straight Premier League defeat - which left them six points above the drop zone.
Cooper accepts his position will be under scrutiny - with former Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui reportedly thought to be a serious contender if he leaves - but ahead of Saturday's trip to Molineux Cooper insisted he cannot consider the sack.
"I do not think like that, I think that is not a good way to think," he said in Thursday's pre-match press conference ahead of the weekend clash with Wolves.
"It is like saying to a player you have to play well in the next game, or you will not play for the club again. So it is just not a thought process I believe in using.
"Of course we are disappointed with the results, particularly [Wednesday night] and the performance evenly so, but more than ever you have to show belief and character in what you want to be and who you are and what you stand for and obviously what the football club and supporters want to see as well.
"So that is my thought more than ever. Of course there are going to be a lot of questions, stories and whatever else, and rightly so, and I respect that and that is the life of a manager and I do not think it should be any other way.
"But at the same time you have to stay honed in on your day's work and where you are at in terms of preparations for the next game, which is Saturday and really if I let anything else creep into my thoughts, then that means I am not giving 100 per cent to the job and that is exactly what I want to do."
Cooper also refused to blame his players for their showing on Wednesday after doubles from Alex Iwobi, Raul Jimenez and a Tom Cairney strike sunk the visitors.
"Like I said after the game, I never split myself from the players, we are a collective, so it is not about me getting let down, it is the supporters that were let down, but that is from all of us," he added. "And it starts with me."
Meanwhile, speaking immediately following the defeat in west London Cooper, who took Forest back to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years in 2022, said he did not deserve the backing from the fans he received as he left the pitch.
"It's embarrassing. I don't deserve it. I'm grateful - they know that - and completely unique, but just wish it wasn't the case because what they showed outwardly, they'd be feeling the opposite, inwardly, and rightly so," he added.
"I have to accept it. It's on me. I take responsibility for it. Please don't be writing about anything else apart from me.
"We should have got a different reception than what we got I just wanted to make sure that. We didn't go anywhere but in front of the fans to take whatever was coming and me first. That's why I went to the front. It has to be on me."
And at the end of the game, Cooper walked up to the Forest fans and apologised for the result by holding two hands in the air.
"Criticism for me will be absolutely fair and I accept it," he said. "I wouldn't say I embrace it because nobody wants it, but I would definitely deal with it. When you're a leader and you're manager or a head coach of a football club, you have to be willing to be a good version of you in terms of your morals and principles in difficult moments and that's what I aim to be.
"I know it's a very bad run of results. I would say tonight is different to the ones before. I hope tonight is an outlier, but it's definitely a different defeat to the ones previously to this. I know that loads of things will get written about, but honestly what's right for the football club is right for me because that's what's most important to me.
"I deserve all the criticism, I deserve the blame. It's on me. I want it to come to me before anybody else and then I'll decide where that criticism goes when we review and deal with the players. It's not baffling tonight it was clear what happened and we can't hide away from that."
December 9: Wolves (A) - Premier League, kick-off 3pm
December 15: Tottenham (H) - Premier League, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 8pm
December 23: Bournemouth (H) - Premier League, kick-off 3pm
December 26: Newcastle (A) - Premier League, kick-off 12.30pm
December 30: Manchester United (H) - Premier League, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 5.30pm