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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Nottingham Forest

Sarah Clapson of the Nottingham Post previews the weekend's game

11 December 2020

Forest are six games without a win and on the outskirts of the Championship relegation zone, with just a point between themselves and Derby in 22nd. What have you made of what you’ve seen so far?

It’s been difficult and they are on a really tough run at the minute. Before the season started there was a lot of optimism about what they could do because of what happened last year and it just hasn’t quite got going. They had a lot of changes in the summer with all the transfers and then the change of manager and they’ve just not been able to get on a run. They’ve played well at times, but haven’t got the rewards for doing so. It was the same against Norwich on Wednesday; they played well and got the equaliser but then they conceded an unfortunate goal afterwards and ended up with nothing. They aren’t getting the luck but also aren’t playing to their full potential, I think. There are players who haven’t reached the levels they know they can, they are still trying to gel as a team and the manager is still trying to get his point across. It’s been a melting pot of different things.

I’m sure you’ve addressed this before but with the short gap between last season and this, has there been much of a knock-on effect from that final day drama, where Forest lost what looked like an inevitable top six berth?

Yes, I think there probably has. They had a big turnover of players, so you can’t blame it just on that, but for those that were here, I think it has proved difficult to shake off. There is still something of a hangover. Then it snowballs to the point where you can’t get any momentum or get past it. It’s not the only reason but I think it has had an effect because it was a horrible way to end the season. Normally, there’s quite a long period between seasons to get over something, reflect and move on but because there was such a short turnaround, there was almost no time to put it to bed. The only way to do that is by getting results and something to build upon and Forest haven’t done that.

Chris Hughton replaced Sabri Lamouchi in early October and brought with him an almost immediate upturn in results. How has he been received so far?

When he first came in, generally, I think Forest fans were pretty happy with the appointment. He’s a steady hand and a very experienced manager who knows what he’s doing. He’s quite similar to Lamouchi in the way that he sets the team up and the way they play, so not too much has changed on that front, but he just needs time to get things going. A lot of the players that came in in the summer were not his players, so it’s not his team and he’s almost been thrown straight in at the deep end in terms of having a quick impact. The fixture schedule hasn’t been kind to Forest and they’ve played a lot of the teams that are up there over the last few games, so it has been difficult on that front. He’s the manager they, perhaps, needed and, if he gets time, I’m convinced he can turn things around.

Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on on Saturday afternoon?

Lyle Taylor, I think. If he gets a chance, he looks like the one that could get a goal for them, it’s just a case of whether they can create enough chances for him. He’s not had too many in recent games but he has looked pretty sharp when he does get a chance. He’s the man they look to because Lewis Grabban is still out injured.

How is Hughton likely to set up his side at the City Ground?

He’s tried a few different formations and recently they’ve been playing a 4-1-4-1. He’s also tried a 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2. He’s similar to Lamouchi in that he wants that solid base; they don’t particularly go all-out attack, but in the situation they are in, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They are just not scoring enough goals or creating enough chances. That’s their biggest problem. They are really short on attacking threat at times so if they can solve that they’ll be up and running.

Forest have edged each of the last three meetings by a one-goal margin, but what’s your score prediction for this one?

I would definitely take a draw and I think Forest would be happy with that. They really need to get back to winning ways but it’s a difficult game for them. Just to get a point would be something, so I’ll go for 0-0.

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