Steve Cooper the right man for Nottingham Forest, says Stuart Pearce

Stuart Pearce took in some Pitching In Isthmian League football for Non-League Day
Stuart Pearce took in some Pitching In Isthmian League football for Non-League Day

By James Reid

Stuart Pearce is backing Steve Cooper’s pragmatism to steer Nottingham Forest to safety.

Cooper has turned the club’s Premier League fortunes around after a disastrous start to their first season in the top-flight since 1999, with the Reds now sitting two points above the drop zone.

There had been calls for Cooper to be sacked after the poor start, but Pearce believes the faith shown in the Welshman will pay dividends come May.

“They started the season playing the way they did in the Championship and Steve Cooper, who is an astute manager, decided after six or seven games that that openness probably won’t suffice to keep them in the division,” said Pearce, who played over 400 games for Forest and managed the club between 2014 and 2015.

“They changed the way they play and have been really good. Their home record will be really important but they have done really well.

“They have invested a lot in the players, they gave the manager a new five-year contract when a lot of people were thinking his position was under threat; I think that was a masterstroke.

“They have a manager that is in sync with what Nottingham Forest stands for as a football club. He has embraced the history.

“You only have to spend a short period of time in his company to realise he is very passionate about the club.”

Pearce took a break from the top-flight to visit Marlow FC for Non-League Day this weekend as part of his ambassadorial role with Pitching In, title sponsors of the seventh and eighth tiers of English football.

It is a similar level to where Pearce cut his teeth with Wealdstone before sealing a move to Coventry City, and the non-league legend revealed he enjoyed a return to his roots.

“People will be surprised by the quality on show,” added Pearce. “There is a real family feel at non-league games.

“If you have only experienced the top end of the game, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment, the camaraderie, two sets of fans enjoying each other’s company.

“It’s the enjoyment of being involved in a football team, at whatever level. There are the 22 players fortunate enough to play, but it’s the rest of us watching or volunteering.

“There will be a lot of players that will have been youngsters at bigger clubs that haven’t made the level and need to play.

“I was fortunate that when I left school and had nowhere to play, my local caretaker took me to Wealdstone; young players need somewhere to play and bounce back like I did.”

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: