Steve Cooper impressed by Nottingham Forest’s newfound strength in latest triumph

    Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper saw his team grow as they rallied to beat Sheffield United.

    Forest looked like he was being held by the Blades after Taiwo Avoni, who opened the game in the third minute, was wiped out by a delightful strike from Gus Hamer shortly after the break.

    But Chris Wood, whose loan move from Newcastle in the summer became permanent, found success in the 89th minute as he headed home to seal a 2-1 win and kick-start his side’s Premier League campaign.

    Cooper doesn’t think his team would have won this game last season and praised his team’s mentality.

    “For the last 30 minutes of the game, I thought we were way ahead of the team, playing high on the field, playing good football and creating really dangerous moments in the game,” Cooper said.

    “We took the game to try and win. Of course, we were a much better team, of course we deserved to win, but I really liked the attitude of the team to step over the line and score a goal late.

    “I’m not sure we sometimes won that game last year, especially early in the season. It reminded me a little (3-2 home loss) to Fulham and Bournemouth, so hopefully it changed the mentality of the team a bit.

    “I really liked how we coped with the task, today there was only one team that deserved to win.

    “We took our foot off the pedal and gave Sheffield United a chance in the game. I’m very happy that we regrouped and did what we’ve done in the last 30 minutes.”

    The Blades lost their first two games, returning to the top flight after two seasons away.

    But they may feel resentful as after going through a tough first 30 minutes they fought well and had chances to take a 1-1 lead.

    Paul Heckingbottom’s squad is under development after their season preparations were disrupted by the sale of star players Sander Berge and Ilyman Ndiaye, meaning recruitment is still ongoing.

    The Blades boss is confident the players will come, but he knows the current situation is hurting their chances.

    “I just have a little sympathy for the players because they deserve more,” he said.

    “If you sign players in June or July, by the end of August you will have two or three months with them. If you sign them in August, you are looking at September, October and November before you are really happy.

    “This is what I have prepared for. I wish we didn’t do this in the Premier League, but it can’t scare us, it can’t be an excuse.

    “There is an obligation to attract players, we will invite them, but it is difficult.

    “It’s a tough set, we could go and get it tomorrow, but it wouldn’t be the one I want. I play my part in this, part of my job is to develop the players and make money for the club.

    “I have to believe in the player and he has to be able to come in and add. We’ll get them, I just wish we had them.

    “But it’s nobody’s fault, we can’t control when clubs come and take our players. Circumstances made us vulnerable.”

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