Another 1-0 pre-season defeat, this time to League 1’s MK Dons, means Nottingham Forest have just two games until the season starts. Lee Clarke offers a fan’s eye view from Stadium MK…
Despite being billed as a testimonial match for MK Dons’ left-back and legend Dean Lewington it was in fairness played out as a typical pre-season friendly.
From a Nottingham Forest perspective it was third consecutive 1-0 defeat which indicates there is still work to be done for boss Stuart Pearce ahead of the 2014-15 season.
First of all it is imperative that we either get a central defender fit or sign one before Blackpool visit the ‘Kuwait City Ground Stadium’ on 9 August. Whilst Michael Mancienne looked solid in defence and composed on the ball, he will be having sleepless nights at the prospect of seeing Danny Fox line-up next to him at the heart of the defence.
What did seem slightly odd at Stadium MK was that we lined up with a back four that will probably not play together all season. Pearce left Danny Collins and Louis Laing on the bench for this one, instead preferring full-back Fox in a central role. I would prefer the manager to use pre-season to look at potential partnerships as opposed to giving players a game for the sake of it.
That said I don’t want to come across like I am slating the manger already, as that isn’t the case. I have always been a big believer that a pre-season friendly is nothing more than a glorified run for the players. They simply struggle to motivate me and if I am honest I wouldn’t be overly fussed if we lost them all but went onto win the first two league matches.
One of the positives to take from the day was the performance of Lars Veldwijk as a lone striker. The big target man was a handful and showed glimpses that he can be a cracking strike partner for someone like Simon Cox, who is possibly at a crossroads in his Forest career.
I was also impressed with the way in which Andy Reid and Ben Osborn linked up through the middle of the park they showed real awareness of where each other was, and also tried to play positive, forward passes whenever possible.
There is no debate to be had really when it comes to the area in which Forest need to strengthen in before the season starts. As much as we seem to be struggling for goals you would think that when Henri Lansbury and Matt Fryatt return from their respective knocks the goals will start to flow again. I feel that it is vital we get a solid back four in place for the first game of the season. Mancienne needs a partner to fill the Jack Hobbs-shaped void as the former Hull man is out until September.
Although a defeat is never a nice thing to experience we may as well get them out of the way now before the real football starts. MK Dons yesterday were a well-organised side – which is no real surprise considering Karl Robinson is their manager. One thing that did impress me with them was the fact that they actually wanted the ball and wanted to pass it on the floor, which is always nice to see.
I wouldn’t say there is too much cause for concern at this stage. Psycho is still trying to stamp his authority on the side and getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of the group. Two or three fresh faces before the big kick-off would be ideal and getting Lansbury fit is imperative to any success we could potentially have.
With just two pre-season games left before we host Blackpool it would be nice to get a confidence boosting win in at least one of them to set us up for the first game. Getting some injured players back on the field will also be a bonus. The likes of Chris Cohen, Jack Hobbs and Kelvin Wilson will be big losses and it could really be mid-September before we get an indication of what Pearce’s settled Nottingham Forest XI looks like.