If every player and team were to be consistent throughout every minute, match and season- what would football be? Would Liverpool have fought back from a 3-0 deficit to claim their 5th title in Europe? Would Leicester have won the Premier League with odds of 5000/1? Would Portsmouth have crashed down from the Premier League to League 2 in the space of 4 seasons? Would 650 million people tune in to the El Clasico? Consistency defines teams. Consistency defines football. Somehow though, Nottingham Forest, in their first start to a season under Aitor Karanka, manage to be consistently inconsistent. One minute Joe Lolley is dancing past defenders, The Rhino (Hefele) is thwarting attack after attack and Guediora is nearly netting 100 yard screamers. Look a minute later and Sam Byram is slipping over for the 3rd time in a row, Ben Watson is failing to make 5 yard passes and Gil Dias is blundering straight into defenders. One minute it is The Avengers, the next, Toy Story. One minute it is Apple, the next, Nokia. Avengers, Toy Story. Toy Story, Avengers. Apple, Nokia. Nokia, Apple. It is simply unacceptable for a club like Nottingham Forest, regardless of any situation.
Consequently, our unbeaten run went astray at Griffin Park. It was a lethargic, disjointed first half performance, where we showed Brentford too much respect and played into their hands that wasn’t improved, significantly enough upon, in the 2nd half to earn any points. Brentford are a well-drilled and disciplined side, whose performances seldom differ drastically. Take note, Forest. Perhaps, though, it is a positive that no points were collected on Saturday. Why feed the players with false information that they have performed to the level whereby they earn a point or three, when in reality they were far worse than that ? From a tactical point of view, Forest should have tried to maintain possession and get forward more against a Brentford team with an array of attacking talent. Instead, they invited pressure on and Brentford could have been 4-0 up after the 1st half.
Forest must take the positives out of the past 2 weeks though as self belief is pivotal to success not just in football, but sport as a whole. An incredible performance on Wednesday night saw them defeat Premier League Newcastle in what turned out to be a thrilling spectacle. Salomon Rondon’s 92nd minute equaliser seemed to have saved The Magpies, but The Red’s resisted deflation and Matty Cash fired in his 3rd goal in 4 appearances. To rub salt in the wounds, Dias pressed down Kennedy and intercepted well, and then chipped it audaciously beyond Darlow. That goal epitomised Forest’s performance- fearless, energetic and classy. The previous Saturday the Red’s also fought back from a 2 goal deficit at home to Birmingham. It portrayed immense team spirit, to gain a 3rd point from a losing position, but it also reiterated the points discussed on my last piece on Forest. As much as us Forest fans would like to think a large sum of money spent on a handful of players guarantees instant success, in reality, it is implausible. Time and patience are needed. 5 years of stagnation can’t be repaired in a matter of months. It is also necessary to mention that we have developed a habit of starting matches without verve and intensity but I do not wish to extend on these topics as they were discussed in the last piece on Forest. Onto the player ratings.
Note: It is difficult to rate the players as they are very inconsistent but I will try my best and I apologise in advance for any inaccuracies.
Costel Pantilimon- 6/10: Has improved on a cagey start to the season. Not been directly at fault for any of the goals.
Luke Steele- 5/10: Not an impressive first start for Steele against Newcastle. Had a few nervy moments. At the moment, a long way away from contesting Costel for the No1 spot.
Tendai Darikwa- 6/10: In my opinion, he does little to affect the game. Only plays well if the rest of the team are. His pace adds another dimension though.
Sam Byram- 6/10: The Championship doesn’t respect people because of their background. You will be punished if you ponder on the ball. Byram will have learnt his lesson quickly . He was all over the place against Birmingham. But he had a much improved performance against the Toons, where his class shone, assisting Murphy for the opener.
Danny Fox- 6/10: Fox is in his prime when alongside a composed, reliable partner, which Hefele doesn’t provide in my opinion. Sometimes appeared lost and has had lapses of concentration. Distribution on point as usual though.
Michael Hefele ( The Rhino)- 7/10: Only reason I have given him a 7 is due to the majority of other peoples opinions. From my point of view, he can be reckless and clumsy. Yes, he is a physical presence and wins ariel duels, but he is not a shadow of the player that Figueirdo is, and wouldn’t make it into my first 11.
Dawson, Guediora, Grabban, Figueirdo not featured here due to injury or lack of game time.
Jack Robinson- 6/10: Had a cagey league debut against Birmingham, but improved massively as the week went on with a particularly strong performance against Newcastle. His performance level then dipped against The Bees in what was a poor Forest display all round. Unlike Osborn, he is a robust, reliable defensive asset who seems comfortable at left back. Not as much of an attacking threat though.
Ben Osborn- 7/10: Played in spurts since the Wigan match. At this moment in time, I think Robinson is edging him for the left back spot due to his lack of experience in defence. Osborn’s greatest quality is his versatility, he will prove priceless when injuries start to plague us. Impressive cameos against Newcastle and Birmingham will argue his case for a spot in the team. His pace down the wing adds another dimension.
Jack Colback- 6/10: Has looked unprecedentedly uncomfortable alongside Watson. For some reason, he is failing to set the tempo and assert his authority in the middle of the park like he did so well last season. Perhaps, it is taking him a while to accustom the new players around him.
Ben Watson- 3/10: Dreadful from the captain. Against Birmingham, he produced one of the worst ever performances in a Forest shirt. 5 yard passes were going astray, he lost every ariel battle and he was generally sluggish. Yes, he looked a different player on the Wednesday night as did the rest of the team, but it proved to be case of 1 step forward 2 steps back as he failed to organise his team in an erratic 1st half performance at Brentford, where he was sloppy throughout.
Liam Bridcutt- 5/10: Can’t say much about Bridcutt, his only appearance came against Newcastle where he had a quiet game. Can sometimes be too negative in his passing. You can’t help but feel for him though, his career has fallen apart. It was only 3 years ago that he was a Premier League regular with Sunderland.
Joao Carvalho- 6/10: Seems to be getting to grips with the hustle and bustle of English football. Links up play very well. In his absence, Forest have struggled to make attacks flow. He also possesses the touch of quality in the final 3rd that unlocks defences. He could perhaps get involved more.
Gil Dias- 5/10: His form has slowed down since the start of the season. He appears jaded by the hectic schedule. But his clever chip against Newcastle reminded everyone of his quality.
Joe Lolley- 8/10: Made a huge impact off the bench against Birmingham, and then followed it up with a fantastic performance against Newcastle. He glides past defenders like they aren’t there and the directness of his running unsettles defenders. Wasn’t as effective against Brentford unfortunately.
Hillal Soudani- 5/10: Made only 1 appearance which was when he started against Birmingham. Didn’t make an impact on the game in the no.10 role. His primary function this season will be as a super sub.
Matty Cash- 9/10: Cash has been in prolific form, scoring his 4th in 5 appearances on Saturday. He has been Forest’s stand out player this season by far. His ruthlessness and incision in the final third has saved forest many times. What more does he have to do to earn a place in the starting line up?
Daryl Murphy- 7/10: Murphy, despite everyones expectations, is at the moment Forest’s No.1 option up front at the grand age of 35. He seems to have evolved his game to suit his dwindling pace. He now positions himself right on the defenders toes and uses his large frame to shield the ball and hold it up, whereas before he would drop deeper and try and turn with the ball. He set the tone for the rest match with his 2nd minute header against Newcastle.