‘This is a ground that can help you win games’: Jubilant Steve Cooper believes the City Ground’s atmosphere can help Nottingham Forest avoid relegation… with fans roaring them to first top-flight win in 23 YEARS
- Steve Cooper has praised the home atmosphere at Nottingham Forest’s stadium
- The City Ground’s supporters then roared to a first top-flight win this century
- Cooper’s Forest beat West Ham 1-0 in the East Midlands on Sunday afternoon
- And the Welsh manager insisted the ground can help Forest avoid relegation
Steve Cooper believes Nottingham Forest’s historic home stadium can help keep them in the Premier League after the City Ground roared them to a first top-flight win this century.
In the first Premier League match here for 23 years, Taiwo Awoniyi put Forest ahead at the break in the first half, just after Said Benrahma had seen a goal ruled out for West Ham.
Then after the break, visiting star Declan Rice saw his penalty saved by Dean Henderson, and Pablo Fornals and Benrahma hit the underside of the bar – to the delight of the 29,281 crowd.
Steve Cooper (above) believes Nottingham Forest’s historic home stadium can help keep them in the Premier League after the City Ground roared them to a first top-flight win this century
The newly promoted outfit beat West Ham 1-0 in the East Midlands on Saturday afternoon
One of the new signings, Nigerian Taiwo Awoniyi (centre), scored the game’s only goal
“This is a track that can help you win games,” said Cooper, whose side was overseen by owner Evangelos Marinakis. “We have to do our part. The occasion – the first home game back in the Premier League – was so important to so many people.
“We should never say it was just another game. Since promotion you could tell that everyone was waiting for this day and wondering who we were going to play.
“Even though we didn’t play here in pre-season, it felt like home immediately for our new players.”
Forest have already signed 14 players and hope to add at least three more, with Brighton striker Neal Maupay a target along with Swiss midfielder Remo Freuler and former Crystal Palace and West Ham man Cheikhou Kouyate.
Goalkeeper Dean Henderson (above), on loan from Man United, saved a Declan Rice penalty
Their spending hovers close to £100m, but Cooper says they have no intention of calling it a day just yet.
“I’d like to sign more before we play Everton and I hope everyone looks at why (Forest have made so many signings),” Cooper said. “There has been a rationale behind it and it has been necessary.
“I don’t mind saying it: we would have loved to continue with last season’s squad and add a few players to it, but it was never going to happen (five of Forest’s first-choice XI last term were on loan).
“We’re still in the process of becoming the team and the squad we want to be, so there will be more in and out.”
A jubilant Cooper insisted the fine home atmosphere can help his team win games this season
Hammers boss David Moyes did not want to be drawn on the game’s controversial events, but felt his side were unlucky to lose.
Benrahma’s goal was ruled out after VAR detected a foul by Michail Antonio on Moussa Niakhate, while Rice’s penalty was awarded when Scott McKenna handled Tomas Soucek’s shot but only received a yellow card.
Moyes said: “Very little went our way in a big first home game for Forest. They had quite a lot of luck throughout the game and we didn’t have much.
“Our first 20 minutes were really bad. Did the mood play a role? Undoubtedly. If you play in that atmosphere, it’s great. The Forest fans showed how much they have been waiting for top football here.