Nottingham Forest face a “really important” June once they have played their final match of the Premier League season.
Head coach Steve Cooper is determined to end the campaign on a high note against Crystal Palace on Sunday, having secured safety with a game to spare thanks to last weekend’s victory over Arsenal. But once the final whistle has blown, his full focus will quickly switch to how the club can build on the platform they have given themselves.
He says conversations about what is next for players whose futures are in doubt have yet to take place. And while the summer transfer business will be key, Cooper stresses it is important to improve both on and off the pitch.
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“Sunday is going to be a really tough game. We have to really focus on that,” he said.
“With regards past that, to the summer, there are plans in place - for on the pitch and off the pitch, because everything is really important. They will kick in, but we need to get the game out of the way first before we really start actioning all of that.
“I really want the supporters and players to take a rest after Sunday and look forward to next season. But behind the scenes, and it starts with me, we’ve got to be working so hard.
“What we do know now from this season is what it takes to compete at this level. We’ve got to maximise the opportunity we’ve given ourselves by staying in the league to improve. June is a really important month for that.
“For me, as the days have gone by, it’s turned into motivation about how we have to improve. After Sunday, we need to have a really productive off-season.
“The players will rest and a lot of the staff around the players will rest, and rightly so, they need to do that. But we need to be busy in the off-season in really trying to continue to improve the club to what we want it to be, and that’s being able to really operate at a high standard in the Premier League.
“To do that, you have to get every part of the club right. That’s what staying in the league has given us. It’s a really important step, but it’s given us now an opportunity to continue to improve. But that’s all it is, it’s an opportunity, it’s not a guarantee.
“We’ve got to make sure this becomes a really busy June, in terms of how we improve the club, so when the players come back they can see it’s a club that wants to grow with them. If we do that, hopefully we’ll be able to improve on the pitch as well - we certainly need to improve things. It’s my responsibility to do that, and when the players come back we will take that on.
“We need to grow the playing style, we need to grow some of the things which haven’t gone so well this year - the away form is the obvious one - and lots of other things as well. Hopefully that’s a natural progression that we really want to take advantage of.”
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