With the foundation laid defensively early on, it felt minimum tweaking of the team further up the pitch could have really pushed us on in the league. Sabri didn’t seem to trust certain players (true disconnect with our recruitment team) and when they did get a chance, those players really didn’t take their opportunities to prove him wrong. In only keeping the trust of about 14 squad players, it was a huge challenge to keep us in the top 6 and one Sabri very nearly pulled off.
Putting the disappointment to one side, it’s certainly been an improvement on previous campaigns. I’ve backed Sabri since day one given that manager’s rarely get a chance at Forest. I was desperate to have us competing at the top end of the table and for the majority of the season; we’ve been in and around it. To miss out on goal difference shows how close we were but to say we were unlucky would be far too kind.
The manager is far from exempt from criticism; he hasn’t been positive enough when we needed him to be and the individual player mistakes had gotten worse let alone be eradicated. Over the season, his tactics won us a number of points but the over-riding thought is how many points did we drop because of them?
For the first time in years however, we’ve managed to keep a manager at the helm for the entirety and although recruitment was still patchy (particularly in the loan market), we’ve had some really successful permanent signings in Sammy Ameobi, Yuri Ribiero and Brice Samba. Tiago Silva has shown his potential throughout the season but has not quite managed this consistently enough to be considered a true success. There’s still room for improvement with him and hopefully he can push on in the coming campaign. Samba Sow promised to be the best out of the lot; he’d been a massive influence on the team and it’s a real pity that injury put paid this in the second half of the season.
Sabri has also achieved something which a number of his predecessors have failed to do at Forest in recent times; improving players that he already had at his disposal. Matty Cash has obviously been the standout performer but you can also add Joe Worrall and Tobi Figueriedo to that list; with all three arguably facing a make or break season at the club. It’s testament to all that they’ve have been top performers and repaid the faith shown in them by the manager.
Whilst Matty Cash has been a revelation at full back, Ben Watson’s solid and dependable performances have been another added bonus; his influence on the team has been exceptional at times but sadly he needed help in the Forest midfield with the absence of Samba Sow. I’m well aware of Watson’s limitations but as the only option to play in the anchor role; he’s done a sterling job. The midfield trio of Watson, Sow and Silva had looked very strong at points and was a key ingredient to our success in the earlier part of the season.
We’ve had some cracking moments and pulled off some big wins against Fulham, Brentford and Leeds. No defeat to the sheep is always a plus point. However, the play offs was the yardstick for a successful season and it’s a disaster we didn’t make it. I’ve had a few ‘told you so’s’ at the end of the season so ‘I’ll love it’ if Sabri can turn it around from this point! Can a leopard change his spots however?
That’s the most prominent question I can pose for now but he deserved another crack at it and you could see the hurt in his eyes during his final post match interview. I truly hope that we can adjust over the shorter summer period. Wouldn’t it be a marvellous thing for Forest to finally break the mold in standing by a manager and seeing it work out? I’m a glass half full man and I’ll remain optimistic. We’ll find out soon enough I’m sure if things do not improve quickly.
As the dust has settled there is collective responsibility for the downfall that has to be taken. The manager, players and owners have all dropped the ball at crucial moments. It has to be part of a learning curve particularly for Mr.Maranakis. We’ve come a little closer this season and I’ll put that largely down to stability. I’m encouraged by the fact Maranakis stood by his coach at Olympiacos a season or so ago and that has bared fruits in the longer term for the greek outfit. Let’s hope Sabri can produce the goods and repay the faith shown in him by the owners. You don’t hear that term very often in modern day football these days!
If Sabri is given the players that he trusts (Jack Colback a good start) then I still think Forest can do well under him next season.
If it’s going to be a continuation of the disjointed recruitment approach of bringing in players that the manager doesn’t want then I fear it will be the same old same old – a small squad that Sabri will attempt to nurse through the season and have them set up to not lose a game. It will result in his losing his job; I’m fairly certain of that.
Sabri’s style of play will only be tolerated for so long at Nottingham Forest and only as long as it picks up results. However, there is a tradition of passing football at The City Ground that we would dearly love to see return. Sabri’s Forest simply must evolve. It would be nice for the club’s hierarchy to back him this summer and the initial signs are that they will; having resisted to push open the revolving door at NG2.
The new kit is out…we can start to get excited again can’t we? Come on you Reds.