Nottingham Forest were beaten 2-1 by Blackburn Rovers at the City Ground on Saturday. It all but extinguished faint hopes of a top-six finish and pretty much ends the campaign with a whimper.
Boss Martin O’Neill has spoken recently about the need to experiment between now and the end of the campaign.
He told the Nottingham Post: “We don’t want to keep losing football matches. There will be experimentation. We did that today. We left Benalouane out of the side. He’s been in the team and made mistakes.
“Ben Osborn came out of the squad on Wednesday. Sometimes players just have to have a look at things from a different perspective.”
Picking a team doesn’t need to be rocket science though.
Lewis Grabban, Joao Carvalho and Joe Lolley tore defences to pieces in the first half of the season. At Sheffield United, it would be nice to see the trio on the pitch at the same time for longer than 15 minutes. Surely the Forest boss witnessed some of the team’s games from August to January?
The comments suggest that O’Neill’s team selections of late have been based around experimenting and preparing for the future. Well, what about the present?
The Forest boss took over the team in January. That is an awfully long time to get to know his best possible team. Remember this was a team in seventh place in the league and looking towards a push for the top-six.
Experimenting is one thing but square pegs in round holes is another. Preparing for the opposition also needs to come into question. It’s an aspect that just doesn’t seem evident at the moment.
I am not for one minute suggesting that a man who has worked in football for over 50 years doesn’t know how to prepare, but something doesn’t seem right.
Surely it’s common knowledge that you wouldn’t get an electrician to do a plumber’s job.
Take Saturday for example. Jack Colback, Forest’s best midfielder by a distance this season was moved to left-back. Meanwhile, one of the Championship’s most influential players during 2018/19, Bradley Dack, ran riot through the middle for Blackburn Rovers.
Enough games have passed now for O’Neill to know his best team. Football matches will continue to be lost, whilst the ‘lucky dip’ selection process continues in the team selections. Whilst players are playing out of position, Forest could become even easier to beat.
The Reds need to finish with a flourish in the last four games and offer supporters a glimmer of hope for next season.