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How a change in management has propelled Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest into the FA Cup quarter-final

September 15, 2021: Middlesbrough inflicted a sixth defeat in seven to condemn Nottingham Forest to the foot of the Championship table. It was a result that signalled the end of Chris Hughton’s reign but also marked the beginning of their rise to Championship play-off contenders.

After winning 2-0 at Huddersfield Town under interim manager Steven Reid – Forest appointed former Swansea City boss Steve Cooper.

Just four defeats from 29 league games has seen Forest climb 14 places to move to within one-point of the play-offs.

Middlesbrough also have a different manager in the dugout from their triumph over Forest in September 2020. Neil Warnock left Boro in 14th place in November and his successor Chris Wilder has proven the ideal replacement.

Wilder, with his Premier League pedigree to count on, has imbued Boro with a new system, similar to the style that earned Sheffield United promotion to the Premier League in 2019.

Boro have play-off aspirations of their own and trail fifth place Queens Park Rangers on goals scored alone.

Both clubs also have an FA Cup quarter-final against Premier League heavyweights awaiting them this weekend.

Middlesbrough eliminated Mansfield Town, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur respectively to set-up a tie against 2020-21 finalists Chelsea on Saturday.

Forest defeated Arsenal in the Third Round before storming to a 4-1 victory over local rivals Leicester City. They disposed of fellow Championship outfit Huddersfield Town in the Fifth Round and play host to Liverpool at the City Ground on Sunday.

Djed Spence and Brennan Johnson have received widespread attention for their outstanding performances of late. Forest have become more of an attacking force under Cooper – scoring the joint-third most goals in the Championship (56).

Both clubs have proven their ability to compete against the heavyweights of the Premier League and there is no reason why they couldn’t claim another scalp this weekend.

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