2017/18 League Two Preview: Mark Cooper and Forest Green Roversby Mike Holden / 14 July 2017, 09:13Tweet
Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Mark Cooper and Forest Green Rovers ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League Two season.
Last summer, Mark Cooper swapped a dressing room he didn’t trust at Notts County for a complete overhaul at Forest Green, carting 17 players at the New Lawn and recruiting 18 new faces. Several big names departed in favour of the extra hunger and desire provided by mostly younger heads eager to carve out fresh EFL careers. And it worked a treat as he delivered promotion at the first time of asking, seven years after eco-warrior Dale Vince started investing in the club.
Serious but low maintenance is probably the best way to describe Cooper. He’s a coach first and foremost, and not one who makes life difficult for his employers. Recruitment was out of his hands at Swindon, while Vince generates most of the headlines at Forest Green. Both scenarios suit Cooper just fine, allowing him to fade into the background and drill his players. He’s a versatile tactician with no set style. He has done route one, played out from the back and most things in between. Whatever’s most effective, basically.
"I think the message to the players who were here last year is that we can have more success. If we keep the nucleus of the squad together, why can’t we go again? You see a lot of teams coming out of the National League down the years get a chance of going straight into League One. Why can’t that be us? We’re certainly going to aim for that. With the signings that we’re making, we’re going to make sure we give ourselves a chance of competing at the top end of League Two."
It won’t be a lack of resources that prevents Forest Green from establishing themselves as an EFL club and it won’t be a lack of knowhow on Cooper’s part either. Many of the players lack league experience but, again, that’s arguably a positive because it guarantees they won’t take anything for granted. There's a lot we don't know but the further towards the top or bottom you try to imagine them, the more far-fetched it seems. So let’s just sit on the fence with this one.