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Nuno Espirito Santo relieved after leading Forest to safety in ‘toughest challenge’ of his career

Nottingham Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo celebrates in front of their travelling fans after victory on the final day against Burnley

Nuno Espirito Santo admitted guiding Nottingham Forest to Premier League survival has been the “toughest challenge” of his managerial career. Forest are preparing for a third season in the top division after finishing six points clear of the relegation zone, with Nuno ready for “two or three beers”.

Yet it has been an excruciating five months for the Portuguese head coach, who was appointed in December as the successor for the popular Steve Cooper.

Forest have suffered a four-point deduction for breaching financial rules, a failed appeal, anger over perceived poor decisions from referees and VAR, plus a number of injuries.

Evangelos Marinakis, the club’s owner, and Forest have also fought running battles with the authorities and were charged by the Football Association for misconduct following a remarkable social media post after a defeat at Everton in April. Despite the points deduction, Forest ended the season with the lowest ever points total but Nuno has fulfilled his remit.

He said: “Everyone now needs to rest because it was very tough, the most difficult challenge of my career so far.

Nottingham Forest's Chris Wood celebrates his team's second goal
Chris Wood has played an important role in Nottingham Forest's survival - Matt McNulty/Getty Images

“It was the first time we have come in mid-season and that was a new experience for us. We embraced the challenge but we now have the team bond, which you usually get in pre-season. We all know how hard it was for all of us at the club. We have achieved the main objective when we arrived.”

Without the goals of Chris Wood, who finished the season with 14 in the league, Forest could have been under the dotted line.

Forest remain under the threat of breaching Profitability and Sustainability Rules [PSR] this summer, and may need to sell at least one star player to fall in line with regulations.

Yet the club believe most of their signings, including Morgan Gibbs-White, Murillo and Danilo, have increased in value which allows them to set realistic prices.

Nuno said: “You never know in football. You have to realise that the way we finished this season, some players in our squad are going to attract interest, for sure.

Nottingham Forest players and staff celebrate their survival
Despite a points deduction, Nottingham Forest are safe for another season in the Premier League - Matt McNulty/Getty Images

“They are talented, they are young and they are in a good moment of their careers. We have to see what happens. It [the rules] frustrates me, but not only me, all the managers in the Premier League are for sure thinking the same.”

Forest intend to lower the average age of the squad and continue to buy up and coming young talent from across Europe and beyond. Funds will be available again this summer, though there will be clear restrictions.

A number of big earners including Felipe, Cheikhou Kouyate, Harry Arter and Wayne Hennessey will also depart this summer. The loans of Gonzalo Montiel, Divock Origi and Gio Reyna will end.

Burnley’s relegation was confirmed last weekend and manager Vincent Kompany is already counting down the days until next season starts. He huddled his squad together after the final whistle and insists there is still a bright future ahead.

“We’ve won the Championship before and we have got the energy to go and do it again,” he said. “Last season we got over 100 points and always found a way to win, but this has been much harder.”

Forest were ahead after just 78 seconds with a clinical finish from Wood, a former Burnley striker.

Burnley manager Vincent Kompany acknowledges the fans after their final game
Vincent Kompany's Burnley will hope to bounce back from relegation to the Championship next season - Richard Sellers/PA

Wood added a second after diverting Ryan Yates’ shot into the bottom corner, with the New Zealand international flagged offside before the decision was overturned after a lengthy VAR review. Josh Cullen, the Burnley captain, reduced the deficit with a deflected effort 18 minutes from the end.

There were farewell appearances from Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Jack Cork plus, possibly, Jay Rodriguez as time ticked away, and Kompany is ready for a big summer.

Burnley (4-4-2): Muric 7; Assignon 4 (Vitinho half-time), O’Shea 5, Esteve 5, C Taylor 5 (Brownhill 75); Bruun Larsen 5 (Gudmundsson half-time), Cullen 7 (Cork 84), Berge 6, Amdouni 6 (Rodriguez 75); Odobert 5, Foster 5. Substitutes Trafford (g), Ekdal, Fofana, Messengo. Booked: Esteve.

Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1): Sels 6; Montiel 6, Boly 7, Murillo 7, Toffolo 6; Yates 6 (Sangare 58), Danilo 6 (Niakhate 80); Elanga 6 (Kouyate 88), Gibbs-White 8, Hudson-Odoi 6 (Ribeiro 88); Wood 6 (Awoniyi 79). Substitutes Turner (g), Reyna, Origi, Omobamidele.

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)

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