Steve Cooper not thinking about the sack after Nottingham Forest’s latest defeat

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Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper is ignoring talk about his future after his side dropped into the bottom three with a 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa.

Forest went down to second-half goals from Bertrand Traore and Ollie Watkins at Villa Park to go nine games without a win and leave relegation to the Championship looming.

Cooper was given public backing by Evangelos Marinakis in midweek, but it came with a stark warning that performances and results “must improve immediately”.

For 45 minutes they competed well with Villa before slipping away after half-time and with Manchester United, Liverpool and Brighton to come in their next three games, Cooper’s position could still be under threat.

Asked what this result could mean for his future, Cooper, who had not yet spoken to Marinakis, said: “I’m not sure, that’s not something I think about.

“I think about results and performances of course, but not in terms of the impact of what people are thinking. It’s just not the way I’m made, I just want to work as hard as I can and try and do a better job with the players to get results.

“What that means for something else I just don’t think about. I just want to make sure I do my job.

“We have to believe that we can turn it around because if we stop that then we have no chance.

“We know the next two or three games are really difficult, like every game is, but if we stop believing and stop thinking we can achieve then we definitely won’t have a chance.

“So as tough as it is sometimes after losing a game, when you start preparing again you have to go with confidence as best you can to try and get results.”

Wins for Bournemouth and West Ham saw Forest drop into the bottom three for the first time since early January.

Cooper added: “That’s what you have to accept when you don’t take care of your own business, which is what we haven’t done today.

“We are not coming into these games thinking about what’s gone on elsewhere, we have to think about what we can do and influence and unfortunately we’re not doing that well enough and that’s why the league position is what the league position is.

“We have to take the negativity that comes with that position but try and work hard to sort it out.”

Life could not be more different for Villa, who moved into the top six after a sixth win in the last seven games.

It was not a vintage performance at Villa Park, but they got the job done to put Europa League qualification in their sights.

Boss Unai Emery, who has surpassed all expectations following his November appointment, says reaching Europe is the target but their current position is “not real”.

“We are winning, we are adding a new target,” the Spaniard said. “We started with wanting to go clear of the bottom, we did it, we tried to be top 10 and now we did it, another target is to go to Europe.

“We are now sixth but it is not real because Brighton and Liverpool have two matches less than us. We have to wait for their result.

“We are going to think about being ambitious and realistic and now we can add a new target. If we are winning we can have the possibilities to get the Europa League position.”

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