Steve Cooper feels a new-look Nottingham Forest need time to build some cohesiveness but accepts they must find ways of upping their points tally.
After gaining promotion to the Premier League via the Sky Bet Championship play-offs, Forest have made 22 summer signings, with Jesse Lingard and Morgan Gibbs-White among the high-profile arrivals.
But a fortnight on from squandering a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at home to Bournemouth, it was a case of familiar failings at the City Ground on Friday night as Forest went 1-0 up against Fulham before being defeated 3-2.
Cooper acknowledges their shortcomings but recognises time is not on their side after sliding to four successive defeats, which leaves them firmly entrenched in the top-flight relegation zone.
The Forest head coach said: “It’s something I’ve spoken about with the lads. It’s not as if we’re not aware of it. And we’ve challenged ourselves – how do we become a team?
“Whether it’s our tactical ideas, whether it’s our togetherness, whether it’s our spirit, whether it’s pushing each other, that comes when you have real trust with each other and trust is built over time.
“We’ve lost four games on the bounce now and that’s not good at any stage. While going through that process of becoming a team, I’m under no illusions, we have to pick more points than what we have.
“It’s one thing being patient but at the same time we’ve got to make sure we improve. That’s on me first and we’ll be doing our best to do that.”
Cooper left out Lingard and club captain Joe Worrall on Friday night but Taiwo Awoniyi’s inclusion reaped almost immediate reward as he headed home to give Forest a lead they held until the second half.
But Tosin Adarabioyo’s 54th-minute leveller turned the tide as Fulham scored twice more before the hour mark with midfield duo Joao Palhinha and Harrison Reed on the scoresheet, which meant a goal from Lewis O’Brien, one of a number of Forest substitutes as Cooper went for broke, was just a consolation.
Reflecting on his starting XI, Cooper said: “I know we’ve conceded three again but I just felt there needed to be some changes in terms of getting better rhythm in the team and not conceding goals.
“I’m not saying that was down to Joe (Worrall) in any way, shape or form but we tried to make a few changes to help and at times it looked fine but then that five minutes has cost us.
“My job is always to pick a team that can win a football game and we’ve not done that.”
Fulham head into the international break in fine fettle, with Reed’s first goal for the club sealing their third win in seven matches since their promotion as Championship winners.
Head coach Marco Silva said: “It was nice to see Harrison score his first goal in the Fulham shirt.
“The pressure on him to score is really tough because I’m demanding different things from him, playing in different areas of the pitch, playing much higher with the ball as well.
“To see our number six arriving when he arrived to score that goal shows our philosophy, shows our ambition as a team as well.”