Nigel Clough shocked at Forest Green sacking

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough admitted he was shocked to see Mark Cooper sacked this week from League Two rivals and promotion-chasing Forest Green Rovers.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 6:00 am
Former Forest Green Rovers boss Mark Cooper.

Stags held Rovers 0-0 at the One Call Stadium on 23rd March and six games without a win and four consecutive defeats have seen the Gloucestershire club slide from fighting for the title to clinging on to the seventh and final play-off place.

That was enough for Rovers chairman Dale Vince to bring down the axe after almost five years at the club for Cooper, who had led them to promotion to the EFL at the end of his first season with them.

“It was a complete surprise,” said Clough of Cooper's departure.

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“ I had a quick chat with him and Richard Dryden, his assistant, when they played at our place a few weeks ago and I think they intimated that if they didn't go up this season then they would probably make a change, though I don't necessarily understand why.

“I know they are desperate to get promoted. But to possibly change your philosophy for what has made them successful for the last four or five years? We'll have to wait and see they are doing.”

Clough continued: “I think they have done an unbelievable job over that time, year after year promotion contenders. It was only a matter of time. I would have stuck with them.

“I don't know whether it's because it's a shortened season or the circumstances, but the trend seems to be, like at Portsmouth, we are in the play-offs or challenging for automatic, but we'll get rid of someone in the hope that we can get some sort of reaction – to do what I don't know?

“There are two or three teams who have done that in the last few weeks when they are in the play-offs. Someone will have to explain that to me.”

“This decision we've made is about giving ourselves the best chance of promotion,” said Rovers chairman Vince.

“Despite our collective efforts, we've been unable to halt our slide in form, which has the potential to take us out of contention this season.

“I've enjoyed working with Mark these last five years, he's made a big contribution to the club and will always be a friend.

“In football sometimes you just need to make a change - and with Mark's contract ending next month, and us needing a change in the next six games, this feels like the right decision.”