A hugely satisfying 2-1 win for Nottingham Forest over QPR at Loftus Road yesterday saw impressive debuts for three new players and Dougie Freedman’s tactics pay dividends
1. The Mancienne conundrum
Michael Mancienne in midfield might not be the frustrating conundrum that it appears to be. Alongside a fit and in-form David Vaughan, yesterday at least, he provides fluidity in defence and midfield. When the full-backs pushed up, Mancienne dropped back between Matt Mills and Kelvin Wilson; all the more important when the wide players are happy to track back, as well as pinning back the opposing full-backs, giving further license to Eric Lichaj and Daniel Pinillos. And when Mancienne receives the ball from defence he’s comfortable bringing it out and feeding his teammates. His injury in the second-half changed the shape of the side, ultimately allowing Charlie Austin the space to score.
2. Snatched chances
With possession approaching 60% during the first-half, Forest restricted QPR to snatched chances. Austin and Matt Phillips, two of the London side’s best performers in the Premier League last season, need only one good chance; and that’s all they had. QPR picked up the pace in the second-half, dominating possession early on, but the sending off of Rob Green ended that. After that Forest looked like a side who knew what to do with the extra man — namely, regain and retain possession.
3. Impressive debut
Chris O’Grady might not score many but proved yesterday that he will create goals. Comfortable receiving the ball, holding it up and laying it off, it was pleasing not to see us resorting to long balls aiming for his head. A powerful frontman, O’Grady didn’t have many plaudits among Brighton fans based on recent form, but he did all he had to do yesterday; and then some. And, as a foil to Tyler Walker or Nelson Oliveira, there are some interesting potential partnerships. Alongside the pacey Ryan Mendes, it was a threatening front three.
There will be games when we need a goal out of nothing — when the game isn’t going our way and we need to salvage a draw or snatch a win. In those games we will lament the loss of Michail Antonio. But the balance of the side, the cohesion as a unit and the team game as a whole was more than pleasing; every man knew his job, every player knew who and where to cover. Dougie’s done a remarkable job over the international break. We all know what Forest are like, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Henri Lansbury’s got a ‘Psycho fist’ thing going on. We approve.