Nottingham Forest give Steve Cooper new contract after opting against sack

Steve Cooper has signed a new contract with Nottingham Forest until 2025. The sudden renewal of Cooper’s deal, which was due to expire at the end of this season, was unexpected after five straight defeats and represents a significant vote of confidence for the under-pressure manager from the owner, Evangelos Marinakis. Forest hope Cooper can turn things around after they slipped to the bottom of the Premier League.

Forest strongly considered sacking Cooper after a humiliating 4-0 defeat at their rivals and fellow strugglers Leicester on Monday, with intermediaries sounding out potential successors. However, after board meetings Forest unanimously agreed to stand by Cooper. On Wednesday the club appointed the former Watford sporting director Filippo Giraldi to a similar role, with further changes behind the scenes mooted, but for now any major reshuffle has been delayed.

Cooper guided Forest to the top flight after a 23-year absence despite inheriting a team bottom of the Championship in September 2021. Forest spent more than £150m on 23 players after their playoff victory, including high-profile moves for Jesse Lingard and Morgan Gibbs-White, but they have struggled to gel, with Cooper conceding his squad are learning on the job.

A Forest statement on Friday read: “It is now important that our focus is solely on football. As a group we are all concentrated and will do everything we can to help the team move up the league table and once again demonstrate our qualities that led us to the Premier League.”

Forest host Aston Villa on Monday. Cooper had been of interest to Southampton, whose manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl, is under increased pressure after 14 defeats in his past 20 league matches.

“How much I love it here and want to be here, that has never been in question,” Cooper said on Friday. “If there is talk about that it can stop. It doesn’t mean we are going to win the next match and everything is going to be OK. It has put an end to the questioning and that is great.”