Nottingham Forest supporter Lee Clarke has devised FIVE things we are learning about Nottingham Forest. Take a look….
1. Our squad is actually pretty good
It was not too unfamiliar under the Stuart Pearce era to hear fans at the City Ground say things such as ‘these players just aren’t good enough.’
In fairness I have often looked at our squad and thought that any other manager in the Championship would cast an envious eye towards the array of talent at our disposal.
The new manager has the players firing once again and since his arrival the Reds have netted a remarkable 10 goals in three games.
The loss of talisman Britt Assombalonga has obviously weakened the squad somewhat but we do have back-up and it is now up to the likes of Matty Fryatt and Dexter Blackstock to step up to the mark.
In players such as Henri Lansbury, Chris Burke, Jack Hobbs and Michail Antonio we have goals all over the pitch and also these players know the league which can only make a new manager’s job all more easier.
The squad is clearly ‘good enough’ they were simply being starved of confidence under the previous regime and this was possibly down to the way they were being asked to play.
2. Youth players will get a chance to shine
When Freedman walked through the door at the City Ground he said that he got great pleasure in seeing a youth team player take his bow for the first-team, and that it was something he would look to do at Forest.
Saturday’s game at Blackpool saw 17-year-old Oliver Burke introduced as a substitute just after the hour and after the game Freedman tipped the youngster to be as good as Wilfried Zaha, who was given his chance by the new Reds manager at Crystal Palace.
In Burke, Tyler Walker and Jorge Grant Forest have some fine talent coming through and it is only a matter of time before they begin to knock on Dougie’s door.
When you consider that under Billy Davies the prospect of seeing an academy graduate take a first-team bow was practically non-existent, the recent comments from the new manager can only be a positive thing for the football club.
3. Square pegs in square holes works wonders
If you had a leaky tap would you ring a mechanic to come and fix it for you? No. So why on earth do some managers deem it necessary to play footballers in positions and roles that they are not entirely comfortable with?
Don’t get me wrong, over the years Forest have had some good, steady players who have carved out careers by being versatile, the likes of James Perch and Greg Halford spring to mind, but they do come as a rarity.
When you spend close to £10 mullion on talent there is no way you should start a season with a left-back at central defence which is what Forest did when Danny Fox partnered Michael Mancienne on the opening day.
Freedman appears to prefer starting players in their more natural positions and we are reaping the rewards for it. Pearce often deployed Henri Lansbury as a defensive midfielder, yet in his more natural roaming attacking midfield role under the new manager he has three goals from as many games.
Juggling too many players around and changing their position on a regular basis only makes players unhappy and confuses them. Football is a simple game when not over-complicated and Dougie’s first three team selections indicate he abides by such a theory.
4. Freedman talks very well in the media and realises the task ahead
Wherever Freedman has worked in the past as a manager he has faced off the field challenges that have restricted him doing his job.
At Crystal Palace he took over a sinking ship who appeared to be destined for League One, but after keeping them in the Championship he lead them to fourth place in the league on a shoestring budget before departing for Bolton Wanderers
The Trotters were crippled with debts that had spiralled out of control since dropping out of the Premier League but that didn’t bother Dougie who very nearly guided the Trotters into the Play-Offs but fell at the final hurdle.
Since he arrived at the City Ground he has spoke of a great respect for the club and wants his players to realise what it means to play for such a club.
After games he talks with honesty and dignity and always, even should we win, shows a steely determination to continue to get better and better.
I really hope our first three games aren’t the ‘new manager’ effect and that the players continue to respond to his methods because since he came to the club his attitude has been just what we need.
5. Freedman has already identified the weak areas on the pitch
After Saturday’s 4-4 draw with Blackpool, Freedman could quite easily have come out and admitted he was happy with a point away from home and was delighted at scoring four more goals.
Instead he came out and said that conceding a last minute equaliser will not be happening again in the style which it did – a free header from a corner when the attacking team only had nine men on the pitch – and that he would work day and night on the training ground to ensure the problem was put to bed.
I like how Dougie appears to be kicking every ball with his players out on the training pitch. I like the thought of the former Forest number nine getting his boots on and taking part in the drills, constantly trying to better the players.
Goalkeeper Karl Darlow said in an interview last week that more emphasis had been placed on tactics and shape in the training sessions and whilst I don’t think that is a dig at Pearce as such, I think the players are responding more to Freedman’s methods and it is showing on a Saturday afternoon.