Steve Cooper says the remarkable job he has done at Nottingham Forest is down to making his players feel loved, as his team secured promotion to the Premier League through the Play-Offs.
Forest edged Huddersfield 1-0 at Wembley on Sunday afternoon thanks to a first half own goal from Levi Colwill to complete the stunning turnaround Cooper has masterminded at the club.
The Welshman took over in September with Forest sitting bottom of the table but guided them into the Play-Off places, which they battled their way through, beating Sheffield United before another Yorkshire side at Wembley.
Asked how he had made such an impact, Cooper said it was winning over the hearts of his players that had done the trick.
‘It’s a difficult world now, it’s a great and glamorous world in football and as a manager, but it’s also a harsh and spiteful one as well,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘I just want these players to know that I’m their biggest supporter and I will love them and give them everything through thick and thing.
‘It doesn’t mean I’m soft with them, doesn’t mean I’m not demanding and challenging them, but in the end, everybody loves to be loved and that’s what we’ve tried to do with these players. We’ve got behind them and stuck with them.’
This was backed up by Forest captain Joe Worrall who was full of praise for his manager shortly after the final whistle.
‘He’s given us that bit of belief,’ said Worrall. ‘I keep using the expression of being like a whipped dog.
‘If you treat any dog with kindness, they become a nice dog. If you mistreat one then they’re aggressive and we were, we’ve been a mistreated team.
‘But I think he’s come in and given us that hope and belief and just been so nice, he’s Ki**ed us with kindness. The fans absolutely adore him and I’m made up for him.’
It was far from a classic in north London, but Cooper was pleased with how his side were the better of the two in the first half and then dug in to hang on to their narrow lead in the second stanza.
‘I’m really pleased for the players, really pleased for the supporters,’ said Cooper. ‘I thought we played well first half apart from not being too creative.
‘Of all the good goals we’ve scored this season, we get one like that but it doesn’t matter. We managed to see it through in the second half.
‘Everyone connected with the football club deserves this, and we’re really looking forward to a positive future.’
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