Nottingham Forest suffered defeat in their first match of the Sky Bet Championship campaign on Saturday, with the Reds losing 2-0 to Queens Park Rangers in West London.
Following last season’s capitulation and their failure to secure a top-six finish, Forest will be looking to right their wrongs and go one step further in their pursuit of Premier League football this term.
After losing 1-0 to Barnsley in the Carabao Cup last weekend, Sabri Lamouchi would have been urging his side to produce a much better performance against QPR, after a simply lacklustre display at Oakwell.
Quiz: 6 of these Nottingham Forest facts are false – Can you identify them?
But Forest were to be left even more frustrated at the weekend, as they started their season off with a defeat thanks to goals from Lyndon Dykes and Ilias Chair.
A lapse of concentration saw Tobias Figueiredo get the wrong side of Dykes just after half-time, allowing the powerful forward to break into the area before being taken down by the Portuguese centre-half.
Dykes stepped up to open his account for QPR, blasting a penalty past a helpless Brice Samba – and the striker also played a part in the second goal, too.
As QPR hit Forest on the break, Dykes’ shot was parried by Samba, and there was Chair to tap home on the rebound, condemning Forest to their first defeat of the season.
Here, then, we take a look at three things we clearly learnt about Forest after their 2-0 defeat to QPR…
Grabban misses prove costly
On another day, last season’s top goalscorer could have had a hat-trick, and Forest could have left West London as a much happier squad with three points in their back pockets.
Grabban’s goals spearheaded Forest towards play-off contention last term, with the experienced striker netting 20 times and often failing to waste any chances that came his way.
At the weekend, though, Grabban was not at his best by any means. He squandered two glorious chances in the second half, which both came from Sammy Ameobi’s powerful wing-play.
Two crosses were cut back to Grabban in quick succession, but the forward was unable to hit the target and he fired wide on both occasions from six yards.
With Lyle Taylor breathing down his neck, Grabban will know that he has to find his form in front of goal, and fast.
A sign of things to come?
At the weekend, we saw Sabri Lamouchi name four changes to the side that took on Barnsley at Oakwell, and this starting line-up appeared to look a lot stronger on paper.
There were debuts for Jack Colback and Luke Freeman, whilst the likes of Joe Lolley and Joe Worrall came back into the team having been injured against the Tykes.
Elsewhere, the likes of Yuri Ribeiro and Joao Carvalho were left out of the squad, which was revealed to be Lamouchi’s choice, which could hint at a sign of things to come, particularly for Carvalho.
It looked as if Carvalho was set for a key role under Lamouchi after impressing in pre-season and starting against Barnsley last week, but that didn’t turn out to be the case as Freeman started from the off.
It is claimed by the Athletic that Carvalho, along with the likes of Albert Adomah, trained away from the first-team squad in the build-up to the game, perhaps indicating at how out of favour he is under Lamouchi.
Lamouchi isn’t afraid to ring the changes, it seems, and there could be more to these omissions in weeks to come.
Improvements are needed across the board
Every team needs time to gel this season, especially given the lack of time managers and players alike have had time to prepare for the new season this year.
But Forest have been struggling for a while, now. They failed to pick up a win in the final six games of last season, ultimately leading to their capitulation and their slide out of the top-six.
Things haven’t gone to plan thus far this season, either. They looked well off the pace at Barnsley, and didn’t show any real signs of creativity against QPR barring Grabban’s chances.
That’s no wins in eight, with the pressure slowly but surely starting to build on Lamouchi, who has fulfilled fans’ wishes and bolstered his squad with proven, Championship talent this summer.
The Athletic claim that Lamouchi is running out of time to turn things around at the City Ground, and he’ll know more than anyone that improvements are needed, and fast.