Preston North End head coach Frankie McAvoy says that the arrival of Steve Cooper at Nottingham Forest has seen a change in the way they have set up.
Speaking to iFollow PNE ahead of the Lilywhites’ trip to the City Ground, the Scot said he has been impressed with the Reds since the Welshman’s appointment, but was hoping that he could come away with similar memories to his last visit to the East Midlands ground, when his side came away with a 2-1 win at the final game in front of no fans, on the last day of the 2020/21 campaign.
“They have changed how they play,” he explained. “Steve has got them well-organised and well-drilled. They play a back three, similar to ourselves, and have a front three that causes teams issues.
“They have got a good balance about them in terms of experience and a couple of younger guys about their team. It will be a tough game, there are no questions about that. Steve is an experienced coach; he has been in the Play-Offs for two seasons at Swansea and he has come to a big, big club at Nottingham Forest, with great tradition.
“They are European Cup winners and league winners, back in the Brian Clough days, and it will be tough. The good part for me was that it was one of the games I had last season.
“It was Gentry Day and we had a positive outcome. We probably didn’t do well enough in the first half, but in the second we were miles better, so I have got fond memories of going there and hopefully we can have fond memories again on Saturday.”
After Wednesday night’s success against the previously undefeated league leaders AFC Bournemouth, Frankie said his side would hit the road again full of confidence and that if the team could again put the gameplan into practice, then there was no reason they couldn’t make it three positive results in a week.
“We are confident,” he continued. “Bournemouth was a good performance from us. I thought the squad performed admirably. Everybody who went out onto the pitch performed to the best of their ability, but it was a tough game.
“We knew what we needed to do in terms of limiting Bournemouth’s chances and in the main we did that. Daniel [Iversen] had to stand up for us, as he has done on many occasions, and to make that save was magnificent, so I was pleased with everyone’s contributions.
“I watched it back that night and watching the celebrations after we scored the goals was brilliant, with the players running towards where our fans were and some of them dressed up as traffic cones and God knows what else! It was great to watch and I was pleased for everybody.
“I didn’t hide the fact that we needed to treat them with the same respect we did when we knew Liverpool were coming, because they had won nine of their last ten games, including their last five in a row, so we knew it would be a tough game.
“We knew it was going to be a tough task for us and we felt the best way for us to get points was to set up the way we did. But sometimes it is easy to say that and easy to think that you can do it, but what you actually have to do is to go and carry it out and I felt the players did it remarkably well and they deserve every credit for it, because it was a tough shift.”
He was also delighted for the supporters and with it looking like a 2,100 sell-out this weekend against Forest, he is hoping to be able to share in more celebrations with them.
“It is fantastic [that there will be a sell-out away following]. I said after the Bournemouth game that the fans who did a 500-mile round trip deserve a lot of credit – that is some shift and having to take days off work and whatever else they need to do - the sacrifices they make - it was great to see them enjoy it.
“I heard them all night. I thought it was fantastic and just to see the euphoria when we scored the goals was magnificent and hopefully we can have much the same on Saturday, where we will have fantastic support behind us.
“The away support we have had in all the games has been fantastic, it is just unfortunate that it took until Wednesday night to get our first win, but hopefully that can galvanise us and kick us on and help us towards another good performance on Saturday,” he added.