Continuing with the fans review of the season,, we have Dave from Long Eaton and Graham from Lowdham up next on the quick fire questions.
How would you summarise the Forest season on a scale of 1/10 (1- being awful).
Graham – With Sabri Lamouchi coming in very quickly after the departure of O’Neill, hopes of progression appeared limited. What was Sabri’s game plan going to be and did he have sufficient time to make a huge impact in the 2019/20 season?As with all past Managers, the challenge facing him was huge.Players coming in under Karanka/O’Neill were still in the process of either being weeded out, or settling in. For me only Brice Samba and Sammy Ameobi have made the impact we were looking for in strengthening the squad. Overall, our recruitment policy has been poor and it was clear that Sabri was short of quality in key positions, especially goalscoring ones, despite the huge contribution from Lewis Grabban.
The biggest disappointment of the season for me was the demise of Carvalho. He didn’t show any signs that he was about to blossom into a permanent first eleven player at any stage of the season, very disappointing and only he knows why this didn’t happen. Maybe the pre-friendly injury was both physical and psychological who knows, but I hope Joao bounces back.
To be fair to Sabri, we continued to remain in contention of a top six finish, great results against all the top teams provided some hope that he was getting the key match tactics right. Break away goals became a predictable game plan. Unfortunately, we couldn’t back this game plan up with quality possession and even our fitness levels looked questionable towards the end despite the break. To conclude, a 7/10 season seems a reasonable assessment, but I hope the nightmare finish doesn’t linger too long because with such a short break to the start of 2020/21 season, we need to reflect and move on quickly.
Dave – I would give the season a 7 out of 10 overall. the first half of the season for me was a 9, in fact right up to the Leeds game, I felt something that night that Forest haven’t made me feel in a long time. After that though we were more like a 5 out of ten and sadly went in the direction we always seem to end up going.
How would you summarise Sabri Lamouchi’s performance in his first season at the club?
Graham – I am reasonably happy with Sabri’s performance. The positives for me is that he appears to relate well to the Senior players within the club, it’s a good sign, for example Lewis Grabban and Ben Watson put in some huge performances, it was clear that they were supporting the Manager, they gave him 110%.
However, his lack of influence to cut out lots of silly mistakes week in week out needs to be addressed. Fitness levels too is an area I thought we were short on, especially noticeable in the final run-in, Leeds and Fulham, were good example of teams achieving both these qualities. He adapted a playing style to suit his game plan, but unfortunately the quality wasn’t there to execute it. He has the passion, he has empathy with the fans, he comes across well so no excuse for the players not to engage and the pundits seem to think he is a Manager capable of delivering, so for me 7/10 is a good start.
A final note of criticism was the lack of constructive critique at the end of the Stoke game, I’m so sorry was okay once, but to keep repeating the comment, was for me a sign of weakness which kind of made me question; is he ruthless enough to be a successful winning coach in the championship? He has my vote to continue the journey and prove me wrong. I like him and I want him to succeed.
Dave – I would have to again say 7/10 although I’d be tempted to go 8/10. He came to the club as a unknown quantity and we all thought he would be gone before Christmas. He has taken a team that I felt was an average side and got the very best out of them for large parts of the season as well as adding some really useful additions, in the summer at least… maybe not so much January! Sabri has a style which is not always nice to watch but has been incredibly effective for large parts of the season, sadly we didn’t have enough in the end but I still trust him to be the man to guide us back to the promise land.
How do you think Forest have fared off the pitch as a football club?
Graham – A difficult one for me to answer as I am guilty of not giving it a great deal of thought, but if I assess the reaction of the fans in their vocal support; we are on the right track. We can create a great atmosphere at the City Ground, but like the players we can’t seem to keep the quality tempo going at the critical parts of the match. We certainly need to stamp out the bad language and bad taste banter, we don’t need it.
I am sure we can be creative in the chants and lets direct more of the energy to the positive parts of our play. The club needs to curb this poor behaviour and it has to come from the media/security personnel side of the club. The new stadium news is of course very welcome and I’m sure it will be a great success, so let’s build on the things that matter in make supporting Nottingham Forest a real pleasure.
I for one love to see more flags and banners in the build up to the game, it can be an awesome sight, despite the possible safety risks. Recruitment of good quality players is an issue and has been for many years, the constant change of Managers doesn’t help either, but there must be some ‘good practice’ methods out there we just need someone to find them and make it happen on the pitch, Another Peter Taylor springs to mind!
Dave – Although my focus on this year has been firmly on the pitch, I think away from the grass we’ve managed well. the ownership seems to be a stable one, Mr Marinakis appears to be running the club well as a business and has people in place to run the football side of things. In the past we’ve seen owners who want to run the club, the business and pick the team! The stadium development is exciting particularly as we got a closer look at what the City Ground will look like when all work is complete. Let’s just hope we’re in the Premier league by then!
Who is your Player of the season and why?
Graham – It’s a no brainer for me. Matty Cash is my pick. He epitomises the qualities I expect from any player in our team; sadly there are few that can match Matty this season. His work rate is outstanding, his commitment to the team shines through almost every week. It’s a pleasure to see but the positives don’t end there! He has improved his technical ability, he can score goals, he is fearless at times in his driving runs and has delivered plenty of quality goal assists. Not the finished article, but boy, he has delivered this season big time!
Dave – For me it would be Matty Cash. Cashy has grown as a Forest player over the last few years and while I have at times criticised his football intelligence, I cannot argue that having spent the whole season In a position that he had not played in before and making it his own and being one of the best full backs in the league, Matty Cash deserves to be player of the season. I would also like to mention Brice Samba who has been the first goalie of real quality that we have had for a long long time, as well as Lewis Grabban who has 20 goals with at times no service which is a great achievement.
Signing of the Season
Graham – The first time I watched Brice Samba, I thought yes, this a goalkeeper of substance and he was just what we needed to strengthen the defensive part of our team. His body language oozes quality and that is so important to the team. What we get in addition is a goalkeeper whose distribution from the back is top quality and in all my time of playing and watching football I can’t remember seeing anyone better.
Either from his feet or hands the accuracy of his throw/kick and pass gives a great edge to our team, unfortunately we don’t make the most of it, because generally the outfield players give it away too easily. On the downside that confidence can lead to a lack of concentration and he’s found himself in the wrong position or he’s failed to hang on to a save, but he’s been a great signing 10/10.
Dave – Another tough one and for me it’s between two. I’m going to go with Yuri Ribeiro. he started the season behind Jack Robinson but very quickly established himself as the leading left back at the club, in a position that has been a nightmare for Forest over the years, we now have a player who has quality, desire and a footballing brain to match. As I say it was a tough call, my other option was Sammy Ameobi, a free transfer that many of us questioned and thought at best he’d be a half decent squad player. he has been nothing short of excellent for me.. he has his moments and often looks far from. convincing but I think that is just the Sammy way! he could do. with adding a few more goals to his game, but I think Sammy has been a great addition.
Favourite goal of the season?
Graham – My favourite goal is from my player of the season, Matty Cash. It was his equaliser against the then top of the league WBA, away from home and making it a special 2-2 blockbuster. We looked a top 2 team that night. It was typical of Matty, he made himself available in the WBA box, not a lot of room, he pushed the ball to his right, just past his marker and thumped a shot right across the goal high into the net, absolutely fearless, summed up Matty Cash to a tee! He wasn’t afraid to have a go and make it count. Nice one Matty!
Dave – My best goal has to be Matty Cash against West Brom away. I was on a stag do and unable to go the game but after a strong performance against a top side and a referee that seemed to get every decision wrong it looked like we were heading for a harsh defeat….until Cashy picked the ball up just inside the box and curled one into the far corner… the elation and emotion poured out of me and as I embraced random blokes around me in the pub… I remembered why I loved football as much as I do!
Most memorable moment of the season? What made it special?
Graham – It’s got to be the 3-0 beating of the Rams at the City Ground 27 August 2019, the atmosphere was unbelievable, the fans, the players and the goals were inspiring. If you want a three minute ‘pick me up’ listen and watch the highlights on YouTube, awesome. Watch the incredible feet skills of Albert Adomah as he dances around two defenders effortlessly and then delivers a cross which Joe Lolley nods in, bliss.
If I could grant you a Forest wish for next season, what would it be?
Graham – To see Matty Cash stay at Forest and see out his contract. In a nutshell the owner must not sell Matty Cash, he is such a shining beacon of what could be possible for Forest. Sabri don’t let him go and look for the same qualities that oozes out him in any other future signings. Matty don’t leave Forest, make it happen at the City Ground, be proud of your progress; you were awesome this season.
Many thanks to Graham and Dave for their views!