Nottingham Forest shipped their fourth consecutive defeat in the Premier League after hosting Fulham at the City Ground on Friday night, and there is no doubt that Steve Cooper will feel massively frustrated with his team as another lead was thrown away.
The Forest manager would have been hopeful that lessons were learnt from the horror show against Bournemouth, when the Reds went from being 2-0 up at half-time to 3-2 down when the final whistle was blown, but they again came out on the wrong end of the same scoreline last night.
The Tricky Trees failed to dominate any area of the game despite being on home turf, with only 41% possession, fewer shots on goal (11 v 15), a lower passing completion rate (74% v 83%) and fewer duels won (39 v 42).
Cooper will be disappointed with his team on all fronts as the team did not do enough to see out the match after going 1-0 up in the 11th minute, when Taiwo Awoniyi found the net, and holding onto that lead until after the interval.
Another second-half battering ensued, with Fulham scoring three goals in the space of six minutes just before the hour mark, Harrison Reed finding the killer third goal for the visitors in the 60th minute. Lewis O’Brien did salvage some level of respectability with a 77th-minute strike but it was too little, too late.
One player who let Cooper down under the lights at the City Ground last night was Morgan Gibbs-White, who despite offering decent set-pieces – with two leading to goals in the last two games – was found wanting for work rate. That is something Cooper must address if Forest are to have any chance of retaining their top-flight status.
The 22-year-old attacker – who was hailed a “free spirit” by former Sheffield United team-mate David McGoldrick – lost possession of the ball with every 1.9 touches, failed in 100% of his dribble attempts, lost 75% of his duels and only completed 14 accurate passes (out of 29) over his entire 90-minute performance.
Luckily, Cooper has many options to fill the position that Gibbs-White occupies, so giving the player some competition for his place should put him on the right path to improving the quality of his game. Hopefully it will inspire him to look after the ball better, because his reckless misplaced passes and constant loss of possession is a hindrance to the team.
Should Cooper drop Morgan Gibbs-White?
Nottingham Forest now have a fortnight before they head to the King Power Stadium for their next Premier League clash against Midlands rivals Leicester, and Cooper must spend the international break identifying the solution to getting the team in a good position to compete over the remainder of the season.