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Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper has revealed that his team “really want to attack” Manchester United in the teams’ Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg clash on Wednesday evening.
Forest’s City Ground will host the first of two encounters between the sides in midweek with the closing leg scheduled to take place next week at Old Trafford, and Cooper was speaking in the lead-up to the first part of the double-header.
“It’s not been an easy ride for sure to get to the semi-final, and we’ve treated it like every other game, one we want to do well in and win.
“Unfortunately, we’re out of the FA Cup, we’re not very proud of that and the way we went about it, but these two games now fall in a two-week Premier League break.
“There’s enough recovery and preparation time to be ready for these games, there’s no doubt about that. The two games have actually come at a good time.
Cooper wants to go for the jugular
Keen to go full throttle on what could be a historic occasion for Forest, Tricky Trees boss Cooper revealed some of his plans for Wednesday’s first-leg tie, saying: “It’s a semi-final, we really want to commit to it, we really want to attack it.
Obviously it’s Man United, it’s over two legs, incredibly tough games – but ones we want to have no regrets about.
“We’re in the semi-final of an important cup. I think we should go into it thinking they don’t come along very often, so treat it like it might be the last one.”
Forest have won England’s League Cup four times in their history, though they haven’t made the semi-finals of the competition since 1992. That year they progressed to the final, where they eventually lost 1-0 to Manchester United.
‘It’s a semi-final! we really want to ATTACK IT!’ | Steve Cooper | Nottingham Forest v Man Utdhttps://t.co/ppRxsOSZSu pic.twitter.com/XD126uqukc
— BeanymanSports (@BeanymanSports) January 23, 2023
Cooper banking on City Ground atmosphere
Forest seem to have turned a corner since the domestic campaign’s resumption in England and they have lost only twice in eight assignments since Christmas. With the atmosphere at the City Ground key to their success, Cooper has backed the home crowd to make a difference again on Wednesday.
“There’s a real good feeling about the semi-final in the city, the stadium will obviously be the atmosphere that it’s been every single game so far this season, which has been incredible, and we should really embrace that.”
“We’re feeling a good pressure of wanting to do well, and I just want to make sure we go into the games with a real positive mindset, I want the players to believe they can succeed.”
Improved performance the target
Nottingham Forest were swept aside 3-0 by Manchester United when the teams met at the end of December in the Premier League at Old Trafford and Cooper believes his players need to show more mettle to compete this week.
“We felt that we didn’t play with enough belief and courage in the game.
“It was going to be hard whatever, and we might have played better and still got nothing out of the game. But we did walk off the pitch thinking we could have done a bit better there, and I don’t want that in these games, I don’t want any regrets.
“Of course, we’ll respect United and their strengths and there’s many of them, they’re dangerous in so many ways. But we have to believe we can play well in this game and that we can have a positive contribution.”