Steve Cooper has urged his Nottingham Forest players to believe in themselves, after what he felt was a missed opportunity for them at Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side claimed a 2-0 win at the Etihad, despite having Rodri sent off in the 46th minute for raising his hands in a tussle with Morgan Gibbs-White.
First half goals from Phil Foden and Erling Haaland had put the home side in control and, while Forest dominated the second half in many senses, they did not manage to claw their way back into the game.
“The second half was played in their half and we managed to get players up the pitch – and I have mixed feelings about it,” said Cooper.
“You very rarely have an opportunity to have that kind of territory here at City. Premier League clubs with a lot more experience than us, do not come anywhere near doing that.
“That did show a bit of evolution (of the Forest side) but we need to make more of those opportunities.
“City defended well in the second half. But we have got to be more productive. That is where we want to get to. We have lots of new players and hopefully those connections will come over time.”
Taiwo Awoniyi and Morgan Gibbs-White both had good opportunities to score, while Anthony Elanga and Willy Boly were both denied by strong saves from Ederson.
“City were City in the first half and sometimes you cannot live with them. Not many can. But we had a second half where we could have been a lot more creative and productive than we were and we need to challenge each other to do that,” said Cooper, who saw Forest add 13 new signings over the summer.
“We are making progress. But you need to make the most of opportunities when they come to you in the Premier League.
“We have loads of new players and we know from last year that it takes time to become a team. But while going through that process you need to pick up points along the way.
“We have some points already. But when you have an opportunity like this, you have to take it.
“I am not angry with the players, I am not disappointed with the players. I have told them that. But I have challenged them to back themselves. Because I do.”
Lingard training with Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq for one month
(Photo: Getty Images)