Steven Reid: What makes Steve Cooper ‘so special’

Cooper led Forest from bottom of the Championship to promotion

Cooper led Forest from bottom of the Championship to promotion

STEVEN REID says the way Steve Cooper dealt with his departure from Nottingham Forest at the end of last season emphasised what “makes him that bit more special” as a manager.

Reid left his role as Forest first-team coach after two years at the start of this month to become a confidence, leadership and confidence consultant. When he announced his departure the 41-year-old former Republic of Ireland international revealed: “As those close to me know, I've had mental health and confidence issues throughout my playing and coaching career.”

Cooper joined Forest in September 2021, when the club were bottom of the Championship and led them back to the Premier League after a remarkable revival culminating in a Wembley play-off final win.

Reid, who had started on the staff under Chris Hughton in 2020, told the TGG Podcast: “I’d already built a bit of a relationship with Steve through a couple of previous seasons when he was at Swansea.

“He’s a top guy - really emotionally intelligent, excellent at what he does and I enjoyed his company. The staff he brought in were great, we had a good rapport in the office.

“But we’d been having this discussion most of this year about my plans going forward. Things were going really well, my contract was up in the summer and I was just open and honest - that I think it could be time for me to step away at the end of the season.

“It wasn’t just thrown on him and the club at the end of season. We’d been having these discussions, which for me makes him that bit more special. He’s got that real emotional connection and gets it, completely gets it.

“For me personally, when at times this season I’ve been questioning what I’m going to be doing next, the manager of the football club completely gets it, completely supports you, makes you feel comfortable in your environment and if you’ve got that then you’re well on the way to creating a good culture at the club.”

And when asked what sets Cooper apart as a manager, Reid said it was the way in which he treats other people.

“Number one - and it’s always number one for me - is being a decent guy, a good person; communication skills, having empathy with the players and staff and an understanding of where they’re at,” he said.

“He would speak with the players all the time, his office door would always be open for chats. We did loads of individual stuff with the players, individual meetings, the analysis detail was excellent, with Steve Rands leading that department.

“Graphically everything was spot on, the meetings went into great detail with good graphics and information. But the real number one is how he is as a person."


Reid also told TGG about how the club had empowered the players to take the driving seat when it comes to analysis.

This reminded us of a brilliant clip that Tom Corden, Forest’s lead first-team analyst, shared when he delivered an excellent presentation at our Individual Development Webinar in May.

Corden showed us a video of Lewis Grabban, 34, running through some video analysis with Keinan Davis, 24, two days before the 4-0 win over Reading in March.

“That was on the Thursday in the meeting room and we played Reading on the Saturday,” Corden remembered. “In terms of impact and affecting behaviours to win football matches, this is everything as to why we do it.

“It couldn’t have worked any better really, because 18 seconds into the game Keinan gets into the box and we go 1-0 up.”

Corden also revealed that Cooper and his staff work on “positives and even betters” when it comes to analysis.

“The gaffer has been absolutely fantastic with this and it’s how we like to deliver,” he said. “We don’t call them positives and negatives, we try to go on positives and even betters. In terms of the meetings we put together, it is all about positive clips.

“What in our game are we doing well? Rather than saying, ‘You are not doing this’, instead it’s, ‘How can we add to your game? How can we take it to the next level? How can you be even better?’”

Speaking on the TGG Podcast, Reid added: “That’s almost utopia, when you’ve got players leading each other. Grabbs has been a top top striker at this level for a long time and those little nuggets of information and detail to Keinan were invaluable.

“He was fantastic, although I’m not having him taking all the credit for that Keinan goal by the way! I did say to Grabbs on the Monday, ‘You do know I’ve been doing a bit with Keinan for the last couple of months? You’re not taking all the credit!”

Reid also revealed how he had focused on wellbeing, leadership and confidence when he worked with the players at Forest.

“I enjoyed my conversations with the senior players, like Grabbs. Prodding them a little and saying, ‘What are you going to be doing next?’ You can’t just finish and sit on the beach for the rest of your life, you need to stay active.

“Those conversations, the bits on wellbeing, leadership and confidence, are the discussions I enjoyed the most. Talking to the players, seeing what’s going on in their personal lives, those were the bits I came away from feeling more purpose and fulfilment, hence the move in that direction.”

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