It is no secret Nottingham Forest has had an exquisite start to the 2023/24 season; beating big spenders Chelsea, relegation rivals Sheffield United and running Manchester United and Arsenal close. Most will attribute this success to manager Steve Cooper or talisman Taiwo Awoniyi but there is a figure in the background who the Reds should be thankful for too.
Steven Reid is the Nottingham Forest Assistant manager who re-joined Forest in July 2023 after a year away. Having been key to their success before leaving, the Reds have welcomed back the former Republic of Ireland international with open arms and excellent results.
The Forest assistant had a solid playing career making 343 appearances for various English league clubs scoring 27 goals including a memorable 35-year strike against Norwich City in the opener of Millwalls 2001/2002 campaign.
Yet, what makes Reid such an important part of the Nottingham Forest team?
Reid moved on from playing to coaching feeling a natural urge to the role. He started at Championship club Reading as a first-team coach. In his tenure at Reading, he oversaw a rocky period for the club which saw them fight against relegation. Reid then left his role to pursue other challenges which saw him coach at Crystal Palace under Roy Hodgson, West Bromwich Albion, the Scottish national team under Steve Clarke, and Nottingham Forest under Chris Hughton.
He warmed into the role at Forest, becoming a figure who fans and players appreciated and liked throughout. This lead to his interim manager role after Chris Houghton’s sacking in 2021 with Forest being dead bottom of the table. In his only match as interim coach, the Reds beat Huddersfield, using a 5-4-1 formation which was integral to their promotion later that season. Although his managerial career with Forest was short, he stayed as assistant of Cooper. That helped him and the team to promotional success in the playoffs that year.
Reid then moved on after the promotion to pursue a career in mental health coaching and trained to be a qualified counselor. During his time off, he worked closely with the Professional Footballers Association and Simms Counseling, training to achieve his level three in counseling skills and studies.
Reid has been very open in his struggles with mental health stating in an interview with Sky Sports “I’ve had real severe anxiety, stress and panic attacks. I can remember heading to my car to go play a Premier League game having a panic attack and having to go back inside to calm myself down.”
In the same interview, he expressed how it’s his “passion” to help those who are going through the same struggles he had in the realm of football.
After this year away from football he has returned to a very different Nottingham Forest side not just in personnel but in footballing position going from a strong Championship side to a Premier League side on the back foot.
He felt a return was needed and welcomed it stating it was “because of the support I felt from within the club and the amazing fanbase when stepping away from football to do some work around mental health and well-being.” That was the reason he returned to the City Ground.
In terms of his on-pitch impact, Reid has been immense in changing the attitude and mindset of the players showing in their excellent turnaround in away form. The players now go away to anywhere and fight for the points they need rather than roll over like last year. This has to be a testament to Reid’s and Cooper’s coaching of a brand new mindset into the players this season.
It took Nottingham Forest until 4 January of this year to get three points away from home last season, but now with Reid back the Reds got three away at Stamford Bridge just three weeks into the new campaign.
The Forest faithful will hope Reid and the rest of this team will continue this form and take the step up into Premier League mainstays like they so desperately deserve.