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Steve Cooper’s culture means Nottingham Forest won’t struggle again – Jermaine Jenas analysis



MOTD2 analysis

Nottingham Forest are still a work in progress under Steve Cooper but I’m already convinced they will stay clear of the relegation battle this season.

Last year was all about staying up after they had waited so long to get back into the Premier League and, after a slow start, Forest were never very far from the bottom three.

You could feel the tension in the air because they had taken a massive gamble with the amount of money they spent to try to stay in the top flight – and they only secured their safety with one game to go.

Forest made a lot of signings after winning promotion and, as Chelsea are finding out at the moment, when you bring in that many players all at once, it can be a struggle to get instant results.


The way Forest improved as that campaign went on shows what a good job Cooper did when he was given time to bed everyone in and, crucially, he has continued the building process he started.

Forest added a lot of players to the group again this summer and they have made a much stronger start this season, especially away from home and against teams from the top of the table.

Snapshot of the Premier League table from 8th to 13th: 8th Newcastle, 9th Crystal Palace, 10th Man Utd, 11th Nottingham Forest, 12th Fulham & 13th Brentford

It is early days of course but, from what we have seen so far, they are definitely not one of the three worst teams in the Premier League. Mid-table is a realistic target because the whole bottom half seems weaker this season to me.

Forest have bought some good young players and itfeels like this period is an opportunity for them to really establish their style of play and integrate those new faces.

Cooper is still searching for a few bits and pieces, especially at the top end of the pitch, to guarantee more goals but, in time, I think that part will come too.


Christmas Day with Brian Clough

Forest boss Steve Cooper on MOTD2
Forest boss Steve Cooper joined Jason Mohammad, Jenas and Glenn Murray after the game on MOTD2

I was at the City Ground with MOTD2 for Sunday’s draw with Brentford and it brought back a lot of memories.

Forest was where it all started for me – I was with the club from the age of eight until I was 18 – and it’s mad how little the place has changed since I left for Newcastle more than 20 years ago.

It’s the club where I learned what it takes to be a footballer and going back reminded me of the days when I was trying to make my way in the game.

Where we filmed our links for the show was in front of the spot by the tunnel where I used to clean the first-team players’ boots as a kid, right next to where there used to be a small running track going around the pitch.

When I was 15, I was one of the few apprentices to live locally and the youth team manager Paul Hart brought me in on my own on Christmas Eve to do what was known as the 12-minute run, where you were given that amount of time to run two miles doing laps of that track.

Straight after I finished, Hart said to me, ‘Well done, you worked hard – see you tomorrow’. I was like, ‘You what?’ I didn’t realise he was testing me and trying to build my character.


When I got in on Christmas morning, it was just me and the kitman and there was a big pile of boots waiting for me, but I soon got a bit of a surprise.

I was stood there cleaning them on my own when the legendary Brian Clough turned up out of nowhere and came over and started talking to me.

He started off by saying ‘you’ve got a lot of work to do’ but he wasn’t just talking about the muddy boots. He had heard I was next in line to come through from the youth team and wanted to speak to me.

Forest fans always play their part

Nottingham Forest fans
Forest are unbeaten at the City Ground this season, with one win and two draws from their three home Premier League games so far

Standing there again took me right back to when I got Cloughie’s words of wisdom – and I loved it. I don’t get back here as much as I’d like to but the City Ground still feels like home.

I still know a lot of the stewards and security staff, so a lot of the faces I saw on Sunday were the same.

The fans haven’t changed either. Sunday was one of the dullest games I have watched this year but there was still a fantastic atmosphere.


I’d argue it’s got even better recently too. Even as a kid when I used to come to games it was always buzzing but something has happened in the past few years that has taken it to another level since my first spell as a player or when I came back for a brief loan a few years later.

Jermaine Jenas, right, and Wolves' Kevin Muscat
Jenas, right, made his Forest first-team debut aged 17 in 2001

Mull of Kintyre has been the club’s unofficial anthem since their European Cup-winning days but nowadays they pump it out before kick-off and it gets the whole ground going.

The City Ground is one of those places where, when I speak to current Premier League players and ask about Forest, a lot of them admit they turn up here and didn’t realise it was going to be so intense.

Credit for that has to go to the supporters but also to the manager and the way he has got Forest playing.

The fans can see the effort from the players and cheer every last ball – they are clearly with Cooper and his team all the way, as we saw when they were down to 10 men against Brentford.

Cooper has built a bond that cannot be broken

Cooper is in so much credit with the supporters because of what he has achieved since he took over two years ago.


I think we saw that last year when he came under a lot of pressure when Forest were struggling and the club were considering sacking him, but the fanbase were not having it.

He may not admit it himself but personally I think they saved Cooper’s job at that particular time because of the uproar on social media when there was speculation he might be on his way out.

The fans’ message was very clear – we are not going to allow you to sack the manager who has just got us into the Premier League after 23 years – and they have a bond with Cooper that is not going to be broken.

I can understand why. Even when the team is not playing particularly well, I am never worried about them lacking an identity because I know what Cooper is all about as a coach, from his days with the England Under-17s side and at Swansea too.

I know he wants to play the game a certain way and that he has brought in good footballers to do that. I feel like he tries to get more out of his players, to keep on improving them.


Serge Aurier is a good example of that, which is why I asked Cooper about him after Sunday’s game.

I watched Aurier a lot at Tottenham – it didn’t quite work out for him there for some reason – and he looks like a completely different person at Forest. Cooper has made him captain and, sometimes when you give players more responsibility, they show a different side to themselves.

From the way Cooper explained it to me, part of the way he manages is by doing that and letting go a little bit – a leadership quality in itself.

He has brought in a group of players from all over the world and in those situations it is easy for cliques to form in the dressing room, where you don’t get all of the players mixing together much. You often have to find that one individual who can gel it all together.

I was asked to do it at Spurs by Juande Ramos, who came to me and said he wanted me to be captain because the youngsters respected me and the older players listened to me. He saw me as being the right person to bed it all together.


Cooper obviously sees the same qualities in Aurier, who speaks numerous languages, and sees him as the right person to convey his messages – not just on the pitch but also about the culture he wants to instil at the club.

It’s the kind of thinking that got Forest into the Premier League in the first place – and it will hopefully keep them there too.

Jermaine Jenas was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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Pep Guardiola apologises to Kalvin Phillips for lack of game time



Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola apologises to Kalvin Phillips when asked if the player will leave in January because of a lack of playing time.

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Chris Davies: Swansea target ‘outstanding’, says Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou



Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou has described his assistant coach Chris Davies – who Swansea City want as their new boss – as an “outstanding individual”.

Davies is a leading candidate to succeed Michael Duff as Swans head coach, but the Championship club have had an approach rejected by Spurs.

The former Celtic assistant boss joined Tottenham’s staff when Postecoglou was appointed manager earlier this year.

READ MORE: Davies yet to make Swans decision – Postecoglou

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Roy Hodgson: Crystal Palace manager ‘bitterly regrets’ remarks about fans



Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson on the touchline during their Premier League match against Bournemouth
Former England boss Roy Hodgson is in his second spell as Crystal Palace boss having previously managed the club between 2017 and 2021

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson regrets calling the club’s supporters “spoiled” after they jeered his players off the pitch in midweek.

Palace were booed after Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat by Bournemouth at Selhurst Park in the Premier League.

Hodgson said fans had been “spoiled here in recent times”, but apologised before Saturday’s visit of Liverpool.

“I am distressed by my comments and choice of word, which I bitterly regret,” he said.

Palace suffered a third consecutive loss at Selhurst Park as they were beaten by Bournemouth, and they have not won on home turf since a 3-2 victory over Wolves on 3 September.


An object was also thrown at Hodgson from the crowd as he made his way towards the tunnel after the defeat to Andoni Iraola’s side.

The 76-year-old added of the fans: “I would be devastated if they didn’t think I appreciated them.

“I can understand their frustration so I owe them an apology because they’ve been so good to me during my five years at the club.

“Everyone came to the game thinking we’d get some points on the board, so to have that hope taken away by a combination of things is hard.

“We didn’t play nearly as close as we wanted to do, but it’s gone now and we have to get over it.”


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Juventus 1-0 Napoli: Federico Gatti scores as hosts win to move top of Serie A



Federico Gatti scores Juventus' goal against Napoli
Federico Gatti got his second goal in as many games

Federico Gatti scored the only goal as Juventus edged defending champions Napoli to move top of Serie A.

The defender scored a late winner last Friday against Monza and followed that up with another decisive strike, heading home in the 51st minute.

Napoli had the better of the first half but couldn’t make their chances count.

Victor Osimhen had the opportunity to equalise but was unable to capitalise on Wojciech Szczesny’s poor kick.

The win moves Juventus one point clear of Inter Milan at the top of the table.


Napoli, meanwhile, remain fifth.



Formation 3-5-2

  • 1Szczesny
  • 4Gatti
  • 3BremerBooked at 58mins
  • 6Danilo
  • 27CambiasoSubstituted forRuganiat 90+2′minutes
  • 16McKennieSubstituted forIling-Juniorat 90+2′minutes
  • 5LocatelliBooked at 90mins
  • 25Rabiot
  • 11KosticSubstituted forAlex Sandroat 83′minutes
  • 9VlahovicSubstituted forMilikat 70′minutes
  • 7ChiesaSubstituted forKeanat 83′minutes


  • 12Alex Sandro
  • 13Huijsen
  • 14Milik
  • 15Yildiz
  • 17Iling-Junior
  • 18Kean
  • 20Miretti
  • 23Pinsoglio
  • 24Rugani
  • 36Perin
  • 41Nicolussi Caviglia
  • 47Nonge


Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Meret
  • 22Di Lorenzo
  • 13Rrahmani
  • 5Nunes JesusBooked at 63mins
  • 3Bernardo de SouzaSubstituted forZanoliat 72′minutes
  • 99Zambo Anguissa
  • 68LobotkaSubstituted forCajusteat 86′minutes
  • 20ZielinskiSubstituted forElmasat 65′minutes
  • 21PolitanoSubstituted forRaspadoriat 72′minutes
  • 9OsimhenBooked at 90mins
  • 77KvaratskheliaBooked at 45minsSubstituted forSimeoneat 87′minutes


  • 4Demme
  • 7Elmas
  • 14Contini
  • 18Simeone
  • 23Zerbin
  • 24Cajuste
  • 29Lindstrøm
  • 55Østigård
  • 59Zanoli
  • 70Gaetano
  • 81Raspadori
  • 95Gollini

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Saturday’s gossip: Sancho, Eriksen, Richarlison, Lenglet, Ndidi



Jadon Sancho

Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund are working on a swap deal which would see England winger Jadon Sancho, 23, return to the Bundesliga club – with 24-year-old Netherlands forward Donyell Malen heading in the opposite direction. (Sport Bild – in German)external-link

Chelsea are prepared to pay whatever it takes to sign striker 24-year-old Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen from Napoli in January. (Football Transfers)external-link

Manchester United are willing to sell 31-year-old Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen in the January transfer window. (Football Insider)external-link

United and Liverpool have joined a host of top clubs who are targeting Fulham’s Portugal midfielder Joao Palhinha. (TeamTalk)external-link


However, Bayern Munich are unlikely to make another approach for the 28-year-old Palhinha in January. (Sky Sports Germany – in German)external-link.

Tottenham will consider selling Brazil forward Richarlison, 26, in January amid interest from Saudi Arabia. (Football Insider)external-link

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has played down suggestions that the club will look to replace injured defender Joel Matip in the January transfer window. (Mirror)external-link

Former Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui is open to replacing under-pressure Steve Cooper as Nottingham Forest manager having recently rejected a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad. (Talksport)external-link

Aston Villa’s French midfielder Morgan Sanson, 29, wants to make his loan move to OGC Nice a permanent one. (Get France Football News)external-link

Barcelona want £12.8m (15m euros) from Bayern Munich for France defender Clement Lenglet, with the 28-year-old interested in a move to Germany if Aston Villa are willing to cut short his loan deal given his lack of game time for the West Midlands club. (Sport – in Spanish)external-link


West Ham are open to offers for Maxwel Cornet, 27, with the club ready to cut their losses on the Ivory Coast winger 15 months into his five-year contract. (Talksport)external-link

AC Milan and Napoli face competition from several Premier League clubs for the signature of Monza’s Italian goalkeeper Michele di Gregorio, 26. (Tuttomercatoweb – in Italian)external-link

Manchester United are set to battle Manchester City for the signature of Lille’s French defender Leny Yoro, 18. (Mirror)external-link

Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth is a target for Manchester United to head up their new footballing department under Sir Jim Ratcliffe. (90min)external-link

Barcelona are keen to sign Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, 26, in January with the Nigerian international’s Foxes contract set to expire next summer. (Sport – in Spanish)external-link

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Cristiano Ronaldo: Al-Nassr forward marks 1,200th career game with goal and assist



Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Al-Nassr
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more than 850 career goals for club and country

Cristiano Ronaldo marked the 1,200th professional match of his career by scoring one goal and assisting another for Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr.

The 38-year-old tapped in Sadio Mane’s cross and later set up team-mate Otavio in a 4-1 win over Al-Riyadh.

Ronaldo thanked all those who have helped him reach the landmark – but added that he was “not done yet”.

The Portugal forward is the Saudi Pro League’s top scorer with 16 goals in 15 games this season.

Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton is acknowledged as holding the record for the most competitive professional appearances in the men’s game with 1,387.


The Saudi Pro League confirmed on social media that Ronaldo had reached the milestone and the player later posted on Instagram: “Three more points! Thankful to all my team-mates who helped me reach my 1,200th match. What a ride, but we’re not done yet.”

Ronaldo also marked his 1,000th senior appearance with a goal in February 2020, scoring for Juventus in Serie A.

In June, he became the first men’s player to make 200 international appearances when he featured for Portugal against Iceland, and he is also the top international goal scorer with 128 goals.

Among his club career appearance records, Ronaldo tops the list for all-time appearances in the Champions League (183), in which he represented Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.

He also became the first player in history to score 800 top-level career goals when he surpassed that total playing for Manchester United in December 2021 and has since breached the 850-goal mark.


Al-Nassr remain second in the table, seven points behind leaders Al-Hilal.

How Ronaldo reached 1,200 games

  • Sporting – 31 games
  • Manchester United – 346 games
  • Real Madrid – 438 games
  • Juventus – 134 games
  • Al Nassr – 46 games
  • Portugal – 205 games

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Jadon Sancho: Man Utd winger’s return to first team ‘up to him’ says boss Erik ten Hag



Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho next to the club's crest at Old Trafford
Jadon Sancho joined Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund in July 2021

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said the onus is on Jadon Sancho to do what is required to facilitate his return to the club’s first-team squad.

Sancho, 23, has been training away from the first team after claims he was made a “scapegoat” following his omission for September’s defeat at Arsenal.

Ten Hag said at the time he had been excluded because his training performances were below standard.

“He knows what he has to do, it is up to him,” Ten Hag said.

Ten Hag said Sancho, who joined United from Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund for £73m in July 2021, must buy into the ethos he has created at the club.


The Dutchman has been determined to improve discipline at United since his arrival in Old Trafford 18 months ago.

When asked at news conference if Sancho’s time was up amid talk of a move away in January, Ten Hag said: “What will happen there, he knows what he has to do, if he wants to return it is up to him.

“It is about a culture and every player has to match certain standards and it was about that.”

United said in a statement in September that Sancho would be on a “personal training programme away from the first team”.

The statement added that the decision was made “pending resolution of a squad discipline issue”.


Last season, Sancho spent three months battling physical and mental issues, with Ten Hag at one point saying the England international was not fit enough to play.

Sancho has scored 24 goals in 92 appearances for United but has not featured since 3-2 home win over Nottingham Forest on 26 August.

Sixth-placed United host Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.

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Coventry City 2-0 Birmingham City: Callum O’Hare double wins Midlands derby for Sky Blues



Callum O'Hare scored his first goal for Coventry City since April 2022 - also against Birmingham City
Callum O’Hare scored his first goal for Coventry City since April 2022 – also against Birmingham City

Callum O’Hare scored his first Coventry City goals in more than 19 months as the Sky Blues comfortably beat Wayne Rooney’s Birmingham City at the CBS Arena.

The former Aston Villa midfielder cut in from the right to fire past John Ruddy on the half hour.

He then dribbled his way sideways across the box before slamming home the clinching second goal on 77 minutes.

It was a fifth successive away defeat for Blues boss Rooney, whose side have picked up just five points from his nine games in charge – and have not earned a single point on their travels since 19 August, two months prior to his appointment.

Although Blues were weakened at the back by injuries, it could have been worse but for a string of saves by keeper John Ruddy.


More to follow.



Formation 4-3-3

  • 40Collins
  • 27van Ewijk
  • 4Thomas
  • 15Kitching
  • 21Bidwell
  • 14Sheaf
  • 10O’Hare
  • 8Allen
  • 7Sakamoto
  • 9Simms
  • 11Wright


  • 2Binks
  • 3Dasilva
  • 5McFadzean
  • 6Kelly
  • 13Wilson
  • 22Latibeaudiere
  • 26Ayari
  • 28Eccles
  • 45Palmer


Formation 4-4-2

  • 21Ruddy
  • 7BacunaBooked at 9mins
  • 4Roberts
  • 44AiwuBooked at 70mins
  • 3Buchanan
  • 11MiyoshiSubstituted forBurkeat 70′minutes
  • 19JamesBooked at 81mins
  • 6BielikSubstituted forSunjicat 83′minutes
  • 28StansfieldSubstituted forHoganat 70′minutes
  • 10JutkiewiczBooked at 75minsSubstituted forDonovanat 83′minutes
  • 17DembéléBooked at 56mins


  • 1Etheridge
  • 9Hogan
  • 20Gardner
  • 23Longelo
  • 24Oakley
  • 27Khela
  • 34Sunjic
  • 45Burke
  • 49Donovan

Sam Allison


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Football Focus: Harry Maguire on his comeback to winning Premier League player of the month



Football Focus’ Alex Scott sits down with Harry Maguire to discuss his recent form for Manchester United and what it means to be named November’s Premier League player of the month.

Watch Football Focus at 12:00 GMT on Saturday, 8 December on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website & app.

Get all the latest news and views from Manchester United

More from the Premier League (external site)


Available to UK users only.

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Emma Hayes: Chelsea manager says women are used to ‘systemic misogyny’



Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes says women are used to “systemic misogyny”, following comments made by ex-footballer Joey Barton on X criticising women working in the men’s game.

READ MORE: Emma Hayes says women are used to ‘systemic misogyny’ following comments

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