Nottingham Forest manager Martin O’Neill has been praised by defender Jack Robinson following a positive end to the season.
That’s something you wouldn’t have expected to hear a month or so ago.
The Reds may have missed out on the play-offs, but they did win their last three games. They can head into the 2019/20 Championship season full of optimism that they can forge a stronger challenge for promotion.
One of the main reasons why the Reds were able to turn their form around was because of a change in formation. Having lost four consecutive games playing 4-2-3-1, O’Neill opted to switch to 3-4-2-1.
This is something that certainly got the best out of the Reds. The new set-up gave them more of a license to attack, and allowed the likes of João Carvalho and Joe Lolley to flourish.
Speaking to the Nottingham Post, this is something that Robinson believes O’Neill deserves credit for.
He said: “It’s all down to the manager. He made a few changes in the last four or five weeks and I think he was trying to find which formation best fits which players.
“It has allowed us to attack a lot more and to be a bit more creative up top, to seal those wins.
“We had a bad run of four games, when we had a few losses in a row. But the manager rectified that by changing things a little; by mixing things up. That worked well for us.”
In this case, the change in formation coincided with the 25-year-old being permanently reinstated into the side and being handed the captain’s armband.
Before the win against Middlesbrough, the left-back had only started two out of the previous five games. This had led to speculation that he may have been involved in a dispute with his manager.
This speculation was exacerbated when he was left out of the squad entirely for the trip to Sheffield United on Good Friday. This came just days after he gave a damning assessment of the season.
As a result of this, it did come as a surprise that he was suddenly reinstated to the team. Not only this, but handed the captain’s armband.
O’Neill has been able to get the best out of the defender by playing him as part of a back three. He looks very comfortable on the left-hand side of the defence, especially alongside Alexander Milošević.
It remains to be seen whether the Reds will move forward in this formation. But it would certainly seem to be a sensible move.