Nottingham Forest coach exits for rival after Premier League's worst record

Nottingham Forest set-piece coach Simon Rusk in the stands ahead of the Premier League match at City Ground, Nottingham
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Simon Rusk has left his role as Nottingham Forest set-piece coach to take up a position at Southampton.

Rusk has been appointed as the Saints’ Under-21s head coach. It brings to an end a challenging stint at the City Ground for the 42-year-old.

He was brought in as the Reds’ first ever set-piece coach in December 2023 as the club looked for a solution to a significant problem. However, the former England Under-19s boss reportedly had little influence in the first-team set-up after Nuno Espirito Santo took charge later that month.

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Set-pieces were an Achilles’ heel for Forest in their first season back in the Premier League. It was an issue they were keen to address last summer, but it took until the back end of 2023 to get a specialist coach in place.

A move for former Tottenham Hotspur man Gianni Vio fell through and owner Evangelos Marinakis reportedly grew frustrated at the delay in bringing someone in. Rusk arrived shortly before Steve Cooper was axed as head coach and Nuno was brought in.

There was little change to Forest’s set-piece woes, though. They conceded a league-high 22 goals from dead-ball situations by the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

Following confirmation of his appointment at Southampton, Rusk told the Saints’ official website: "I'm delighted to join Southampton, it's an exciting step to come to a club with such an established reputation for developing top talent. I'm looking forward to getting started with the group here, having spoken with Andy (academy director Andy Goldie) our visions are shared in wanting to push the Academy forward again both on and off the pitch."

Prior to his stint Trentside, Rusk had been England Under-19s head coach since August 2022, having joined the St George’s Park set-up that May. Earlier in his career, he had brief spells as assistant manager at Dundee and in charge of Stockport County, as well as almost a decade at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Rusk’s time with the Seagulls included two stints as a first-team coach alongside ex-Forest manager Chris Hughton. He also had spells overseeing the club’s Under-18s and Under-23s sides.

Southampton academy director Goldie said of Rusk: "After reviewing our performance as an Academy last season, there was a clear profile we required for this role and it was evident that Simon possessed the qualities and experience to help deliver on our objectives. His track record in developing young talent at club and International level speaks for itself, but he will also act as a great mentor for our younger coaches and play a key role in driving the Academy forward next season.”

Are you worried set-pieces will be a problem for Forest again next season? Have your say in the comments below