Lewis McGugan is a player that will be well-remembered for his time with Nottingham Forest, in a seven-year spell with the Reds.
The midfielder spent seven seasons with the senior side, and made 224 appearances in total, whilst having plenty of ups and downs in his time at the City Ground.
McGugan played his part in the club’s promotion-winning season from League One in 2018, and became a regular in the Nottingham Forest starting XI in future seasons.
Speaking in an interview on the ‘Dore On Tour’ Youtube channel (27:09), McGugan issued an insight into his time working for Billy Davies, after he was appointed as the club’s manager back in December 2018, as he succeeded Colin Calderwood.
“I think he got appointed just before the Manchester City game in the FA Cup, because I remember he watched the game from the stands. We knew he was there and it was a great performance and great result. He came in and was going to be completely different to Colin.
“Colin was very calm, very quiet, but in terms of what he needed to say, he said it and left us to our own devices. It was a completely different job then though, as with Colin we were in League One. We had a lot of good players and a really good squad, so if we were going to fail, it would have been down to us. We knew what we had to do to get promoted.
“Whereas when Billy came in, obviously the situation in the league and he had very good experience in the Championship. I had never played in the Championship at the time, so we were ready for this next level and this manager had that next level under his belt. It was a case of moving forward and seeing what the next chapter was.”
One remark that will stick with a number of Nottingham Forest supporters during Davies’ time with the club was when he branded McGugan unfit and overweight early into his time in charge at the City Ground.
“I think it’s one of those things that at that time, you look at it from what the manager is saying and you see it in the local press. I was only 19 at the time, so I was still at kid really. To come into the team and hit the ground running and to contribute to the team and do well and still being a young player it was like ‘boom’, that was the next thing. It’s a complete transition from what’s been the previous 12 months.
“It’s a completely different end of the spectrum to look at. It’s a negative side now and and to look at how I go forward from there. I was 19 at the time, I look back now and could I have done things differently? Course you can. Could he have done things differently? Probably he could. But that was the time I was in, that’s what happened. Hindsights a wonderful when you look back but it was just one of those things and we just had to try and move on from it.
“Did it make our relationship different? Course it did. That’s just natural. Maybe he did it to try and get a reaction, maybe he did it for a reason, but at the point, I don’t really know him, he doesn’t know me, and he might have methods of working at previous clubs and that’s the biggest thing between managers and players.
“It’s about getting that understanding. Once you get that understanding and understand people’s character then it’s a completely different relationship.”
Was it Lyle Taylor or Lewis Grabban that did these things?
It’s interesting to hear McGugan’s side of this story.
For any youngster, it could go one of two ways in terms of their development after hearing something like that. But McGugan strikes me as the sort of player that had the right work ethic to let that comment spur him on to improve as a player.
The midfielder scored some memorable goals at the City Ground over the years, and it’s good to see him looking back on his time with the Reds.
Forest could maybe even benefit from having a player of his quality in their team nowadays!