Andy Cook’s first season in charge of Nottingham Forest may have come to an abrupt end last week after the FA announced that the 2019-20 season will be null and void due to Covid-19, but he is still proud of what his side has achieved.
Reflecting on hearing the news this season has been expunged from this point onwards, Cook shared his thoughts.
He said: “I think the more information we were seeing on the news and from the government, the season coming to an end was inevitable.
“No one of course wants the season to finish how it did and there’s been a lot of talk across the men’s and women’s game about this but for myself and the club we have to follow the government guidelines and stay home until it’s deemed safe not to.
“We’re as frustrated as anyone that we cannot play out this season, we were in a good run stretching back from September.
“We had a fully-fit squad and lots of options in both attack and defence and the team was in a great place and you never know what could have happened in games.
“We have become skilled at defending a lead and seeing a game out and we know we had that ability and so we just wanted to play.
“But more importantly for everyone we stay in lockdown so the country and world can recover from this dreadful virus.”
What The Reds achieved on the field throughout the past nine months will no longer be counted going forward but Cook insists his side will never forget what they achieved.
“Only in the record books will what happened on the field not count,” Cook explained.
“We have memories that will last a lifetime from this season; Precious Hamilton going on to become joint-top goalscorer with games in hand, Aja Aguirre and the team keeping 10 clean sheets, more points for the club than the previous three seasons, more wins.
“The unity and spirit in the group to fight for each other I’ve never experienced.
"Training is at times harder than games for them because they all want to be involved every week.
“I’m proud of everything we did this season, even the losses have helped shaped us.
“Through adversity we become stronger, we did this at the start of the season and now as a nation and world we must do this and we will all be back and be stronger from this period of pain right now.”
Cook joined the club last July as he took charge of the side on their first day of pre-season and he explains that he now ‘loves the place'.
He said: “It’s been fantastic from the first moment I met everyone at pre-season, everything has been brilliant.
“So many people have helped, from everyone in the hospitality department who helped with our highly-successful day at Eastwood vs Hull City.
“Ashley Lambell has helped us with media and different bits and of course David Cook and board for backing us after a poor start, they trusted us and believed in what we were doing so we must thank them for that.
“Lee Billiard has been a huge help and someone who I know will go on to great things. I’ve loved every minute of working with him and I’m as sad as anyone he’s leaving but that’s the nature of the business, people want the best and he’s one the very best.
“The club itself has been tremendous, we’ve worked as closely with them as we can and it’s how a club should be operating for the benefit for everyone in the club and community of Nottingham. I love the place.”
Cook also explains that the sudden halt to the season and the chance of promotion being stripped from the side only fuels the motivation heading into the next season.
“It does add extra motivation, I can’t tell you all messages I’ve had from every player excited about what’s to come,” he explained.
“When we heard the news the first thing the staff and I spoke about (via FaceTime and phone calls) was how it will be nice to have more time to prepare as last season we had two hours after I signed my contract on the first day of pre-season.
“We’re now focusing on this and recruitment for next season.
“The club bringing in a new general manager and us recruiting new players will add extra quality to this group.
“The group here is very close and we need to factor all this in.
“So, it’s exciting although it’s more time that I would have liked but health is more important right now.”