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Fulham 5-0 Nottingham Forest: Steve Cooper backed by fans despite heavy defeat

Steve Cooper took charge of Nottingham Forest in September 2021

Manager Steve Cooper said he was “embarrassed” but “grateful” to still have the support of Nottingham Forest fans after suffering a five-goal demolition against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Alex Iwobi and Raul Jimenez each scored twice as Fulham netted three goals or more in three successive top-flight games for the first time since 1966.

Despite being well beaten, Forest fans showed their support for under-fire Cooper as they roared the Welshman’s name even after the fourth strike hit the back of the net, sending a clear message to owner Evangelos Marinakis in the stands.

Welshman Cooper cut a forlorn figure on the touchline as his side slumped to a disappointing defeat in west London, but the fans in the away end had his back and could be heard roaring his name.

After the game, Cooper walked over to the Forest supporters with his hands in the air apologising for the manner of the performance, but they persisted with positive chants for their boss.

It seems Cooper still has credit in the bank following that successful campaign in the second tier when he brought a halt to the club’s 24-year exile from the top-flight, and for keeping the Reds in the Premier League last season.

Cooper told BBC Match of the Day: “It means so much but I’m personally embarrassed, I’m grateful, of course, but I don’t deserve that [support].

“Regardless of who is playing, who the manager is, you can’t let these people down like that – you just can’t.

“We’ve shown over the last few years how important this club is to the city and the joy that it has given, so to not represent it in the way that it should be is hurtful. I take responsibility for that.

“I didn’t deserve that tonight from the supporters – we all let them down and we have to take responsibility.”

Iwobi set the Cottagers on their way to victory after 30 minutes when he beat the offside trap to convert Willian’s beautifully whipped cross, before Jimenez doubled the lead four minutes later by firing emphatically into the top right corner.

The Mexican forward showed strength and composure to grab his second and Fulham’s third early in the second half, shrugging off Forest defender Ola Aina, rounding goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos and then dispatching a cheeky back-heel

Iwobi was allowed far too much space in the box and met Harry Wilson’s cross to score Fulham’s fourth, and the scoring was rounded off by substitute Tom Cairney late on as Forest’s defence was nowhere to be seen.

The win moves Fulham up to 12th with an 11-point cushion to the relegation zone, while Forest – with just one win in their last 11 matches in the Premier League – are three points further back in 16th.

Performing on the road still a problem for Forest

Nottingham Forest fans have become accustomed to seeing their team struggle on the road, picking up just eight of they 38 points they collected in 2022-23 away from the City Ground.

They have won just two of their 27 away fixtures since earning promotion from the Championship.

Another away fixture looms on Saturday with a trip to Wolves, before they face a double-header against Tottenham and Bournemouth at the City Ground prior to Christmas.

Forest are preparing for a busy period with five fixtures across the next 24 days, and Cooper will certainly want to see more desire from his players in those matches than he did at Craven Cottage.

Cooper added: “[It is] painful, and painful in so many ways. It’s a result we have to accept is our fault and we deserve.

“It’s on the back of technical and tactical failings. On top of that, not enough desire or will. [Desire] is not something I questioned before.

“Tonight we lacked everything to have any chance of success in the game – we fell short in so many ways.”

Cottagers starting to click

Raul Jimenez and Alex Iwobi
Raul Jimenez did not score in 15 Premier League appearances for Wolves last season

Fulham made a poor start to the season, winning just two of their opening seven matches, but have clicked into gear over recent weeks and are a force to be reckoned with in attack.

Marco Silva’s men scored only 10 goals in their opening 12 fixtures, but have now found the net 11 times in their last three, having hit three against both Liverpool in Sunday’s 4-3 defeat and in the preceding victory over Wolves.

Jimenez, signed in the summer from Wolves, seems to be finding his feet following a rough three years since suffering a significant head injury and is beginning to demonstrate that he is capable of succeeding former talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Iwobi also caught the eye with his work ethic and goals to ensure the Cottagers made easy work of their lacklustre visitors.

Player of the match

JiménezRaúl Jiménez

Fulham

  1. Squad number7Player nameJiménez

  2. Squad number22Player nameIwobi

  3. Squad number10Player nameCairney

  4. Squad number20Player nameWillian

  5. Squad number26Player nameJoão Palhinha

  6. Squad number14Player nameDe Cordova-Reid

  7. Squad number8Player nameWilson

  8. Squad number33Player nameRobinson

  9. Squad number18Player nameAndreas Pereira

  10. Squad number3Player nameBassey

  11. Squad number28Player nameLukic

  12. Squad number17Player nameLeno

  13. Squad number12Player nameBallo-Touré

  14. Squad number4Player nameTosin

  15. Squad number21Player nameCastagne

  16. Squad number30Player nameCarlos Vinícius

Nottingham Forest

  1. Squad number40Player nameMurillo

  2. Squad number15Player nameToffolo

  3. Squad number22Player nameYates

  4. Squad number10Player nameGibbs-White

  5. Squad number5Player nameMangala

  6. Squad number21Player nameElanga

  7. Squad number23Player nameVlachodimos

  8. Squad number18Player nameFelipe

  9. Squad number28Player nameDanilo

  10. Squad number27Player nameOrigi

  11. Squad number11Player nameWood

  12. Squad number43Player nameAina

  13. Squad number14Player nameHudson-Odoi

  14. Squad number19Player nameNiakhaté

  15. Squad number16Player nameDomínguez

  16. Squad number6Player nameSangaré

Line-ups

Fulham

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 17Leno
  • 21Castagne
  • 4Tosin
  • 3Bassey
  • 33RobinsonSubstituted forBallo-Touréat 75′minutes
  • 26João PalhinhaSubstituted forLukicat 79′minutes
  • 10Cairney
  • 22IwobiSubstituted forDe Cordova-Reidat 75′minutes
  • 18Pereira
  • 20WillianSubstituted forWilsonat 63′minutes
  • 7JiménezSubstituted forCarlos Viníciusat 79′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Rodák
  • 2Tete
  • 6Reed
  • 8Wilson
  • 12Ballo-Touré
  • 13Ream
  • 14De Cordova-Reid
  • 28Lukic
  • 30Carlos Vinícius

Nottm Forest

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 23Vlachodimos
  • 43Aina
  • 18FelipeSubstituted forNiakhatéat 75′minutes
  • 40Santiago Costa dos Santos
  • 15Toffolo
  • 5Mangala
  • 6SangaréSubstituted forYatesat 45′minutesBooked at 76mins
  • 14Hudson-OdoiSubstituted forDaniloat 58′minutes
  • 16DomínguezSubstituted forGibbs-Whiteat 45′minutes
  • 21Elanga
  • 27OrigiSubstituted forWoodat 58′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Turner
  • 7N Williams
  • 8Kouyaté
  • 10Gibbs-White
  • 11Wood
  • 19Niakhaté
  • 22Yates
  • 28Danilo
  • 32Omobamidele

Referee:
Josh Smith

Attendance:
24,105

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