You could have forgiven Nottingham Forest fans for believing that Miguel Angel Guerrero wouldn’t have too big of a part to play for the Reds this season, when the Spaniard arrived at the City Ground from Olympiacos in the summer.
Sabri Lamouchi had just added Lyle Taylor to his squad to bolster his attacking options and provide competition for last season’s top goalscorer Lewis Grabban, with many viewing Guerrero as back-up for the experienced duo.
With three goals in his last two games for Forest – including a brace against Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend – it’s Taylor who has established himself as their first-choice marksman under Chris Hughton, in the absence of the injured Grabban.
After producing their most dominant performance of the season so far on Saturday, though, it’s Guerrero who has also grabbed many of the headlines.
As fans flocked to social media to discover Hughton’s team selection on Saturday afternoon, many immediately pointed to the inclusion of both Taylor and Guerrero, with assumptions being made that Forest would be setting up in a 4-4-2 formation.
That proved not to be the case, as Guerrero failed to conform to fans’ initial beliefs of that he would be a target man. A player who would offer physical prowess, aerial presence, and perhaps a different dimension going forward.
Fans billed the 30-year-old as an out-and-out number nine upon his arrival from Greece in the summer. On Saturday, however, we saw him operate as a number 10, playing in behind Taylor and helping to bridge the gap between midfield and attack.
As our graphic shows, it was a role he clearly thrived in, as Forest recorded back-to-back league wins for the first time this season, signing off before the international break on a positive note.
As alluded to before, Guerrero operated as a number 10 as Forest set up in a 4-4-1-1 system. The Spaniard’s job being to supply Taylor with the ball, and bring the likes of Anthony Knockaert and Sammy Ameobi into play from wide positions.
The first half saw Forest dominate proceedings, with Taylor putting the Reds into a deserved lead on 28 minutes. The striker nodded in Cyrus Christie’s cross at the back post following good attacking play.
This wasn’t the first time that Christie would have plenty of joy down the right-hand side. Guerrero played an exquisite diagonal pass into the full-back’s path on the half-hour, before the Reds won a free-kick in a dangerous area of the field.
That was to be one of 23 passes Guerrero would make successfully during his 76 minutes on the pitch, with the Spaniard finding pockets of space and having plenty of touches in and around the final third. The forward was to have only three touches inside the box, in fact, with most of his work coming in the third quarter of the pitch.
Wycombe’s well-drilled 4-3-3 formation meant that Guerrero would have to work well in tight spaces and be quick in his decision-making.
Despite completing two out of three dribbles successfully, the Spaniard was guilty of gifting possession to the opposition – one culminating in a yellow card on 11 minutes, after he turned into trouble and subsequently hacked down Joe Jacobson from behind.
In total, Guerrero lost the ball 14 times, but worked hard and showed endeavour to win it back on four occasions. His manager won’t be too pleased with his carelessness on the ball, but will be satisfied with his work-rate and desire to retrieve it.
Shortly after Taylor doubled his and Forest’s tally for the afternoon on 74 minutes, Guerrero was taken off and replaced by Harry Arter. A fine afternoon’s work for the Spaniard, who gave fans – albeit through a laptop screen – a teaser of what may be to come from him this season.
As Taylor said in his post-match press conference, Forest have an “abundance” of talent within their attacking armory. Players who possess flair, guile and can put a ball on a sixpence for those who are experts at converting chances.
The problem that Hughton has faced in the early stages of his tenure, though, is fitting those players into the right system and making them gel. They possess the quality, but if they can’t get on the ball, then their talent is worthless.
Guerrero, though, proved to be a key cog for Forest going forward at the weekend, providing clever link-up play and filling the void between the midfield and attack.
If Hughton persists with his 4-4-1-1 system, then there is no reason to suggest why Guerrero can’t be the player who makes sure everything clicks together.
That statement on the day of his signing might’ve surprised you.