June 20, 2024

Filippo Giraldi’s six months at Nottingham Forest: ‘Of course I’m angry’

In a restaurant on the Piazza della Repubblica in Florence — Filippo Giraldi’s home city — the former Nottingham Forest sporting director is ready to talk for the first time about his six months at the club. “I prefer to work, then talk,” he tells The Athletic.

Filippo Giraldi has already hinted at approach to Steve Cooper situation at  Nottingham Forest - Nottinghamshire Live

The club devoted just 46 words to his dismissal statement in April. Two months on, he’s still wrestling with their decision. “Of course I’m angry, of course I would have liked to have finished the season and I don’t understand why.

“I accept it though and I’m thankful. I’m not a person who has a bad feeling. I’ve been given a great opportunity. I played my part and did my best, that’s for sure. It still hurt me and I still don’t understand, but it’s life.”

The 49-year-old was sacked in the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa which — after losing to relegation rivals Leeds four days earlier — left Forest in the relegation zone for the first time since January. It seemed that someone had to carry the can.

“I should be more angry with (the club’s ownership) because it feels undeserved about how it finished, but I’ve loved them because they love the club and they are extremely generous in the way they make themselves available for the club.”

Giraldi says of Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis and his son Miltiadis: “From a working point of view, it has been fantastic. No interference at all. Of course, I have a daily relation with the owner and Miltiadis, a different type of relation and we talk about different subjects.

“With the owner, it is about the general workings of the club, where we want to go and what we want to achieve. With Miltos, it was more about players. But they haven’t interfered once and more than that, they have helped. The perception sometimes is wrong.”

Emotions ran high in the run-up to Giraldi’s sacking. Leaks suggested Steve Cooper was on the verge of being sacked. “It came out that if we lose (against Leeds) that Patrick Vieira would become our coach,” says Giraldi.

“I phoned the owner because also with the previous game something similar came out. I said to him we can’t have that coming out all the time before the games because it’s the wrong message to the players and to everyone. We are in this together and we have to stick together.”

Between the Leeds and Villa games, Marinakis released a statement backing Cooper but said “results and performances must improve immediately” to arrest the slide.

“I was extremely happy that the owner put out that statement because it was the right way to defend your club and your people, and I think it was a brilliant move,” says Giraldi. “But sometimes, owners, in general, always look at the next result, not just at Nottingham Forest.”

Giraldi had put his neck on the line by defending Cooper. “I’m proud I fought a lot. There was a moment, and it’s normal when you go into losing games, that the owner can also think about looking at something else because you need to prepare it. You cannot avoid that. You have to do it.”

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