Nottingham Forest’s first home game of the season saw the Reds draw against a recently-relegated West Bromwich Albion, after conceding a late equaliser. But, as Lee Clarke reports, there’s a lot to be excited about
It’s not very often I get back to Mansfield after 11pm and feel the need to fire the laptop up and pen immediate thoughts following a Nottingham Forest midweek performance, especially when work is on the agenda the next morning.
Indeed, in recent years the cat has opted to hide behind the sofa whenever my disgruntled self arrives back in North Nottinghamshire, following another underwhelming showing from the Reds. Disclaimer: No pets were harmed in the writing of this article.
Thankfully for Cloughie, the said cat, those days look like being a thing of the past. At least if Forest’s performance in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion is anything to go by that is.
Make no bones about it, Aitor Karanka’s men were brilliant against an outfit who boast several players who were playing Premier League football just last season, and but for a late effort from Matt Phillips would have earned maximum points under the City Ground floodlights.
I have to start this section of praise with an ode to Reds’ midfielder Adlène Guedioura, who again showed faith in Karanka’s decision to include him in the starting line-up, with a goalscoring performance that showcased the very best of his abilities.
I have to admit, I wondered where the Algerian would earn opportunities in the side this season with a plethora of midfield talent for Karanka to choose from, but he has clearly worked hard during the summer and if the first two games are anything to go by then he is back to his very best.
What impressed me most about the Reds’ performance was the lack of fear in their play. Having rested Michael Dawson and Ben Watson I did wonder whether or not Forest would have the leadership qualities on the pitch to keep the younger players going, when things might not go according to plan on the night, although I needn’t have worried.
Danny Fox led by example at the back, Tobias Figueiredo was colossus, the Portuguese duo João Carvalho and Gil Dias were energetic, whilst Lewis Grabban held things up incredibly well in attack.
The new look Forest don’t go into their shell when the going gets tough and they certainly aren’t afraid of getting the ball down and maintaining a sleek passing style – something that has been merely a pipe dream in recent memory.
Carvalho looks like he is going to be an incredibly shrewd signing and what I like about him is how keen he is to impress his new team-mates and manager. He hasn’t got the attitude of a kid who has been given it all too soon and against the Baggies you could see the determination ooze out of his body with every bead of sweet that dripped away from his silky locks. The standing ovation when number 10 went up on the board showed exactly what the Reds’ faithful thought of their record signing’s display.
My overriding feelings when leaving the City Ground on Tuesday evening were divided into segments. Disappointment that we hadn’t managed to see the game out; excitement at what the future might hold once this squad blends together and becomes more accustomed to this style of football; and finally I had a real sense of pride.
I was proud to witness my club play in such a superb game of attacking football, proud to see us have a real good go at beating a side just out of the Premier League and proud that Nottingham Forest, my club — our club — looks finally like it is on the way back.
Of course, I won’t get carried away, that’s not really my style after two games of football, but it is safe to say from the 90 minutes against the Baggies that this Forest side is going to be a lot of fun to watch every week.
Pantilimon 7; Darikwa 6, Figueiredo 8, Fox 8, Osborn 7; Guedioura 9, Colback 7; Dias 6, Carvalho 8, Lolley 7; Grabban 7.