'A huge challenge' for new Forest boss Nuno

3 months ago 103
Nuno Espirito Santo on Steve Cooper, a big squad and Forest fans

Nuno Espirito Santo says he is facing a "huge challenge" at Nottingham Forest and wants to build on Steve Cooper's legacy at the City Ground.

Forest have appointed Nuno on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

Cooper was sacked on Tuesday after two years and three months, with Forest having lost five of their past six league games to sit 17th in the table.

"We have a good group of players, a squad that needs to become better," said ex-Wolves and Tottenham boss Nuno.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, the Portuguese head coach added: "What Steve [Cooper] did here is amazing.

"Putting Forest back in the Premier League, keeping Forest in the Premier League. That shows how good Forest fans are, the respect they show for Steve. That says a lot about our fans.

"We are trying to improve his legacy."

Nuno's first match in charge will be Saturday's home Premier League game against Bournemouth (15:00 GMT kick-off).

"What we can bring is to try and improve the players," said the new Forest boss. "Help players become better, give them the solution that they need to compete well - starting on Saturday.

"Play good and win - that's the biggest challenge we have ahead of us. It's a huge challenge."

Is Nuno the best choice to take Forest forward? Have your say hereListen: 'Knowing fans are behind us is the beginning of everything' - Nuno to BBC Radio NottinghamGet Reds news and analysis sent direct to youVisit our dedicated Nottingham Forest page

Nuno's challenges to Forest players

Nuno was asked if he would use the January transfer window to improve the squad, which he saw at close quarters in a morning training session.

"Look, the only ones that can and should improve things, it's those that are here now," he said.

"What I expect is the players that are here in the building solve the situation - then we think about the rest. But now it's who's inside that's important.

"To compete in the Premier League is very hard. I think Forest started well this season. Then for different situations things didn't go well. That's why I am here.

"What I saw today really gives me the assurance we are in a good way in terms of togetherness.

"The players work together, they respect each other. That is the first step.

"I never managed a squad of this size. That will be a challenge. But a chance for everybody."

Nuno Espirito Santo at the City Ground after being named new Nottingham Forest bossNuno Espirito Santo is back in the Premier League two years after being sacked by Tottenham

Nuno spent four years at Wolves, guiding the club to promotion from the Championship in his first season before consecutive seventh-placed finishes in the Premier League, while they also reached the Europa League quarter-finals.

The former goalkeeper left Molineux in the summer of 2021 and went on to join Tottenham, but he was sacked after less than four months in charge following a run of five defeats in seven league games.

He joined Al-Ittihad in July 2022 and led the Jeddah-based side to the Saudi title last season, but he was dismissed last month, just 12 games into the new league campaign, after a run of poor results.

Forest have won only once in their past 13 top-flight games, taking eight points in that period.

They have picked up one point from their past six matches and are five points ahead of third-bottom Luton, who have a game in hand.

Analysis

BBC Sport's Simon Stone

The tricky bit for Nuno will be to navigate the strength of support for Cooper and mould it into something resembling what he had at Wolves.

In much the same way as Cooper did at the City Ground, Nuno created a special bond with the supporters at Molineux, who revelled in the way in which the Portuguese took their club from Championship mediocrity into the Premier League and then into Europe.

That run was based around a specific recruitment plan that allied Nuno with a large number of Portuguese players and had the influential hand of football agent Jorge Mendes over it. He also used a trusted three-man defence with wing-backs, and relied mainly on a counter-attacking style.

Given how much Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has invested in players over the past three transfer windows, it will be fascinating to see what reshaping Nuno is allowed to execute next month.

At least he has time to work with his squad though.

After the home game with Manchester United on 30 December, Forest have a single Premier League game - at Brentford - before the encounter with Arsenal at the City Ground on 30 January.

Your views banner

We asked users on our dedicated Nottingham Forest page for their thoughts on new Reds head coach Nuno. Here are some of your comments:

Josh: Steve Cooper has been brilliant for us but change was needed. An 18% win rate in the Premier League isn't good enough. The owners have backed every manager we've had and spent a lot of money. The only thing that will get us relegated is fans that can't move on from Cooper and back Nuno. A big atmosphere is needed at the City Ground on Saturday which could be a huge game. COYR!

Fosi: A real downgrade for us - his record is not good . He has a poor squad of players with many not good enough for this league and he will be gone by the end of the season. It will need a big upgrade in quality to improve our position and he won't have enough time.

Tim: Fired from his two previous roles for failing to get either team to improve, or even maintain their poor run of form. Why would they bring in an individual who has failed twice in succession to try to avoid failure at Forest? Was carried by a strong Wolves side and will now be Forest's downfall. Where's Big Sam?

Cal: Such a shame. Nuno is fantastic but when the fans are still behind the manager why change it? Should have waited until January before maybe considering a change. Either way, good luck.

Simon: Nuno is a good appointment. He will shore up the defence and pick the players capable of transitioning quickly from defence to attack. He will provide a stable base for which the team can survive the relegation battle. However, this is dependent on the owner or other influencers letting him manage the team without any restrictions on his style.

Steve: Nuno may well produce a few good results for Forest and indeed steer them clear of the drop zone. But what happens next season? Probably the same as at Tottenham and in Saudi Arabia, thereby leaving Forest in the same predicament.

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