Category Archives: Nottingham Forest

Who has impressed in the EFL Championship so far?

The latest episode of the writers podcast features writer and Cardiff City fan Martin Townley.

We discuss his opinion on which sides have impressed in the EFL Championship so far as well as what he has made of the start to the Premier League season.

Link to the Writers Podcast below: https://soundcloud.com/adam-stephens-425096853/24-7-football-episode-8

In addition, we are also proud to announce that we have been ranked by Feedspot in their Top 40 UK Football Blogs

WHAT HAS CHANGED AT FOREST

SinceI last wrote about Nottingham Forest quite a lot has changed, not at least their manager, new signings departures, and a new style of play. All of these were done with the right intentions and looked like positive changes at the time, and still yet maybe, but have resulted in a poor start to the season which leaves Forest languishing towards the wrong end of the table.


The managerial change was half expected as Sabri Lamouchi’s positive spell in charge declined dramatically towards the end of last season and even more so with 4 defeats to start the new campaign. Sabri had brought positivity and hope back to Forest Fans and left with a message of thank you from the fans. His replacement’s record in the Championship is second to none and I believe his availability and willingness to take the job contributed to the change. It seems like Chris Hughton must have been in discussions with Forest for a while before the change as it was announced almost immediately after Lamouchi’s departure.


The nature of forest’s signings were along the lines of Hughton type players, by this I mean experienced quality championship players. Anthony Knockaert was the only official signing made by Chris but the likes of Luke Freeman, Harry Arter, and Cyrus Christie fit this mould. Knockaert is in my opinion a top Championship winger whose delivery cannot be beaten at this level and Houghton got the best out of him at Brighton. He also tried to bring in Kamil Grosicki, a player forest have been linked with ever since January, however, after a long wait they discovered last Thursday that the deal was completed marginally past the 5 pm transfer window deadline. When you look at the squad it’s very strong and the strongest I’ve seen at Forest for about 10 years.


So what’s gone wrong?


Firstly there was a massive hangover from the failure of getting into the playoffs when it seemed certain they would. Then came the uncertainty over the manager’s future during the break and then big changes to the playing and coaching staff. I think the squad has changed too much over the summer break, last season was based on a tight-knit group in which Ben Watson, Thiago Silva, and Matt Cash played a big part. Loosing these 3 is a big blow, their replacements of Jack Colback, Luke Freeman, and Cryus Christie have been good, but the team spirit and togetherness takes time. When you add 13 new players to a squad with a good spirit you risk changing the togetherness and getting a squad that is too big and not everyone feels involved. I would have much preferred to have kept as much of the same squad together as possible and adding extra bits of quality. For example, the signings of Cafu and Fouad Bachirou in particular seem unnecessary.


There has also been a change in the style of play to get used to, Lamouchi stated he wanted to add more creativity and attacking options to the side which he did by bringing in Freeman and Lyle Taylor. But to achieve this a less compact defensive was attempted and this ultimately failed and cost him his job.Hughton is adopting a similar approach with the team playing much higher up the pitch and trying to control possession more than last season. This is ultimately the style of play fans want to see however it will take time to change and perhaps a more pragmatic approach is needed to get results on the board to build confidence.

Weekend Championship Round up

Games are staring to come along quickly as the Championship rolls on. Readings good form continues as they lead the table. Bristol City remain second but there are just four points between them and 14th placed Huddersfield.

East Midlands Derby

Friday night saw the East Midlands derby between Nottingham Forest and Derby County. It was the 108th meeting of the long time rivals.

The two side were up for this game, Lyle Taylor shot forcing a good save from David Marshall. Marshall’s opposite number Brice Samba was also tested in the first half. Graeme Shinnies curling shot met by the diving hand of the Forest Keeper.

It was Derby who scored first after 30 minutes. Martyn Waghorn’s with a free kick the self-isolating Wayne Rooney would be proud to claim. Waghorn lifted the ball over wall and it clipped the inside of the bar to go in the net.

Derby thought they had won it when some clever footwork from Tom Lawrence allowed him to slide a ball into Jozwiak who found the net. Jozwiak wheeled off in celebration but the assistant’s flag was up. Waghorn in an offside position was deemed to be interfering with play.

Forest Manager Chris Hughton told BBC Radio Nottingham:

“I wasn’t too happy with the first half performance. I thought we needed to be better on the ball and our movement needed to be better against a team who were happy to defend in a really good shape”.

After seeing his side second goal ruled out Phillip Cocu told BBC Radio Derby:

“I don’t see any offside. The goalkeeper reaches for the corner where the shot goes, so the view is not blocked. The frustration is quite big here”.

Reading Go Five Clear

Championships leaders Reading won their sixth game of season clinically beating Rotherham 3-0. Reading took the lead towards the end of the first half though Yakou Meite.

The striker doubled the home side lead on 74 minutes, with an overhead kick. From a corner he control the ball with his chest before performing an overhead kick into the top corner of the net. A good win was finished in stoppage time with a Lucas Joao penalty.

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic said:

“What we saw in our team was the consistency of getting the job done, doing your job for the team. You also have to be patient, have a strong mentality and not get frustrated if our game plan is not working. And don’t ever give up”.

Rotherham drop to 18th place and manager Paul Warne told BBC Radio Sheffield:

“We were away from home against top of the league and had lots of possession in the first half and we were the only side that played on the front foot. We passed the ball really well without creating enough clear cut chances and obviously for them to score the first time they were in our box was a massive sucker punch”.

Mepham Saves a Point

Late drama as Chris Mepham’s 94th minute goal saved a point for Bournemouth. Watford had lead since the 12 minute from Stipe Perrica’s first goal for the club.

Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly was lucky to only see a yellow card for his poor challenge after just two minutes. Lunging in late on Ismaila Sarr catching the Watford player above the knee.

Watford’s goal came after Sarr’s ball across the box from the right was met a sliding Perrica who simply directed the ball into the net. Ismaila Sarr had the chance to make it too but his shot was stopped by a strong right hand from Asmir Begovic.

Begovic kept his in it again saving from Quina before quickly pushing the ball away from Pedro. Bournemouth pressed for an equaliser but found resilient Watford defencing and a in form Ben Forster.

Josh king saw his late header turned over the bar by Forster. However Bournemouth got their reward from the corner. Forster punched the ball away but the return ball in the box was turned in by Mepham.

The draw means Watford stay in 3rd and Bournemouth 4th.

Away Wins

There were away wins For Blackburn (4-0 v Coventry), Luton (1-0 v Sheffield Wednesday) and Preston (2-1 v Huddersfield) on Saturday.

Coventry were reduced to 10 men after 14 minutes with Michael Rose receiving a straight red for a push in the box. Adam Armstrong scored from the spot. Armstrong got a second after 49 minutes getting on the end of Brereton’s though ball. Harvey Elliott made it three on 62 minutes assisted again from Brereton. Rovers wrapped up a fine display with a fourth on 88 minutes from Sam Gallagher.

Sheffield Wednesday remain bottom after a 1-0 home defeat to Luton. Wednesday’s Joost van Aken saw red for a reckless high challenge. The hatters took advantage of the extra man to get the win with Pelly Ruddock scoring on 74 minutes.

While they can’t win at home Preston are still unbeaten on the road. Frazier Campbell’s 8th minute goal gave Huddersfield a half time lead. A curling effort from Alan Browne levelled the game on 51 minutes. Just two minutes later Browne found the net again. This time looping a soft punch from the keeper back into the goal. Naby Sarr got a red card for pulling down Riis Jakobsen.

Stoke up to 8th

Stoke stormed into a 3-0 lead after an hour. A free head for Steven Fletcher after nine minutes, was followed by a James McClean low shot into the near post. On the hour mark Tyrese Campbell made it three cutting inside to the edge of the box and curling a shot into the far corner. Brentford pulled two back thanks to sub Marcus Forss but Stoke held on to take their unbeaten run to seven games.

Norwich got their third straight league win after beating pointless Wycombe 2-1 at Carrow Road. Timo Pukki gave Norwich the lead early on. Scot Kashket got the goal that got Wycombe level after some poor Norwich defending. Wycombe may have thought they had their first championship point but there was late drama. Mario Vrancic 91st minute free kick went straight into the top corner with the Wycombe wall seamingly rooted to the floor. Adam Idah was shown a red card for appearing to push Joe Jacobson to the floor.

Warnock Returns

Middlesbrough left Cardiff with a point on Neil Warnock’s first visit to Cardiff City Stadium since leaving the Bluebirds. It was a classic Warnock display from Boro’ who set out early to slow the game and frustrate Cardiff. The visitors took the lead with George Saville’s header lopped in the Cardiff goal. Cardiff took the game to Boro in the second half but could not find the final touch. Their hard work did get them level with Sheyi Ojo second goal since signing from Liverpool.

Jamal Lowe smashed in on 51 minutes to give Swansea the lead at Ashton Gate. It was his second goal for Swansea. Putting it in off his left foot turning towards goal. Bristol City equalised from a Nahki Wells penalty. Conner Roberts judged to have brought down Semenyo Antoine just inside the area. A soft penalty but dispatched down the middle with power from Wells. The result sees Bristol City remain in second and Swansea in 6th.

At The Den two goals in two minutes at the end of the first half saw Millwall and Barnsley share the points. Alex Mowatt stunning volley from the edge of the area gave Barnsley the lead. Just a minute later Jake Cooper rose above everyone else to head home for Millwall.

A goalless draw at The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium as QPR met Birmingham City. Scott Hogan did find the net for City but was ruled offside. QPR are 16th while Brimingham are 17th.

The championship rolls on to Tuesday and Wednesday again this week with Blackburn hosting leaders Reading and Bournemouth v Bristol City as the stand out games.

Forest looking stronger with transfers

Nottingham Forest have been strengthening following their disastrous final day collapse at the end of the 2019-20 season. They have made 5 summer signings so far and I will assess why and how they will make them stronger and aid their push for promotion.

The first signing was a return of a familiar face in that of Jack Colback. Colback enjoyed 2 successful loan spells with the reds in 2018-19 where he made over 50 appearances and now returns on a permanent contract. Such was the success of his previous spells forest tried to bring him back last summer but were put off by wage demands. The midfielder brings plenty of experience with him having made over 200 appearances in the North East regularly featuring in the Premier League. He will add depth to the defensive midfield options beyond Ben Watson and Samba Sow who are liable to missing matches.

Next to arrive was the signing of defender Tyler Blackett. The 26-year-old moves to The City Ground on a permanent contract having left Reading at the end of last season. Blackett started his career in the youth ranks at Manchester United, making 12 first-team appearances for The Red Devils, and gained experience on loan at Blackpool, Birmingham and Celtic. He will provide needed competition for the left back and centre back positions.

Then came the striker Forest have been looking for, Lyle Taylor. The experienced frontman moves to The City Ground having left Charlton Athletic at the end of last season. Taylor scored 11 times for Charlton last season, a rate of a goal every other game for The Addicks in the Championship, to finish as their joint-top scorer. Forest fans have been crying out for another proven striker to take the burden off Lewis Grabban and give the manager the option of rotating his striker position. Taylor was the obvious choice as he was available on a free transfer and brings excellent scoring rate, a prolific 34-goal season with Concord Rangers earned him a move to Bournemouth in 2010. After a move to AFC Wimbledon in 2015, Taylor settled and regularly found the back of the net, helping The Dons to promotion from League Two and to cement their spot in League One prior to firing Charlton to promotion from the third tier in 2018-19 with 25 goals. Forest would have beaten of plenty of competition for his signature.

Next through the door was the permanent signing of midfielder Fouad Bachirou. e Comoros international moves to The City Ground from Swedish top-flight side Malmo. Bachirou started his career at Paris Saint-Germain before moving to Scottish side Greenock Morton, making over 140 appearances ahead of joining Swedish side Ostersunds. During his time with Graham Potter’s side, he lifted the Swedish Cup in 2016-17, and was a runner-up in the following campaign, before switching to Malmo in 2018. The midfielder has extensive experience of both the Champions League and the Europa League during his time in Sweden, helping Ostersunds reach the Europa League round of 32 in 2017, while reaching the same stage of the competition with Malmo in the past two seasons. He will like Colback provide a defensive midfield option.

The latest signing was the arrival of Luke Freeman on a season-long loan from Sheffield United with an option for a permanent transfer. Freeman, an experienced forward/midfielder who has played over 150 times in the Sky Bet Championship, came through the ranks at Arsenal’s academy and after a couple of loan spells in Leagues One and Two he went on to sign for Bristol City. The 28-year-old featured regularly for The Robins and was instrumental in Lee Johnson’s side gaining promotion to the Championship in 2015, as he played over 100 times in three seasons at Ashton Gate before he joined Queens Park Rangers in 2017. Two successful seasons at Loftus Road followed as Freeman’s impressive midfield performances saw him crowned Rangers’ 2018-19 Player of the Season and earn a move to the newly promoted Premier League Blades. Freeman brings a lot of quality in both creating and scoring goals along with versatility. He could play as a left sided forward or an attacking midfielder. The second option brings me nicely to possible departures from the city grounds as 2 play the role.

Tiago Silva has been linked with a move to Olympiacos, owned by Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis. Silva was a regular in the midfield last season and is a popular figure and one I hope remains at the city ground. Another Portuguese playmaker Joao Carvalho provides much debate amongst Forest fans since his £13 million record breaking signing in 2018. He had a positive start to his Forest career under Aitor Karanka but since then a change in tactics, injury problems and a lack of confidence has hindered him greatly. There is a 50/50 split between fans who think he should be in the team regularly and those who think he should be moved on.

Finally we come to the biggest story of the Forest’s Transfer Window – The future of player of the season Matty Cash. He has attracted interest from premier league sides Sheffield United and Burnley but it Aston Villa who appear to be the closest to signing him. Cash is a product of Forest’s academy a hugely popular figure with the fans, especially since he was switched from right midfield to right back at the start of last season. His performances have been outstanding, a vital part in Forest’s attack and defence. Many attacks develop between him and Joe Lolley on the right side which would be a massive miss if he departs.

The only confirmed departure so far has been Tyler Walker who joined Coventry on a permanent transfer. Further arrivals and departures could be on the cards as rumours are Benfica youngster David Tavares, Birmingham Striker Lukas Jutkiewicz and Newcastle winger Jacob Murphy are on Forest’s radar.

What next for AFC Bournemouth and Eddie Howe?

Bournemouth Manager Eddie Howe has left the club following The Cherries relegation from the Premier League. 

The 42 year old led the South Coast club for more than 450 matches that spanned over more than a decade. 

The decision was ultimately made by mutual consent with both parties coming to the conclusion that the time was right for a fresh approach.

Following his departure, Howe has published an open letter to the fans:

“The club motto is Together anything is possible and that is something that we’ve always firmly believed and strived to implement.

“That quote is representative of everything that we have tried to achieve as a club and it reflects the values that we all have tried to install in each other.  We had a vision and a dream with hard work and unrelenting desire to continuously improve we have always strived to achieve our objectives.”

The Journey

It was just five years ago that AFC Bournemouth completed their journey from the depths of League Two to the promise land of the Premier League.  Eddie Howe’s side sealed their promotion with a 3-0 home win over Bolton.

The win was secured through a Callum Wilson late goal, the England striker had only just signed for three million pounds the previous summer from Coventry City.  Subsequently, it meant that the south-coast club were promoted to England’s top flight for the first time in their history.

Indeed, rewind 11 years prior to the club from Dorset’s promotion to the promise land, the Cherries needed a victory just to stay in the Football League, which thankfully they managed against Grimsby Town. This fact alone, however, shows just how remarkable the club’s rise is to arguably one of the ‘the most prestigious and best leagues’ in the world.’

The Cherries this season sadly saw their five-year stay in the top flight come to an end, as they finished 18th just one point and one place below Aston Villa.

There could be a further twist to come, however, as the Dorset club are considering legal action against the goal line technology company, Hawk-Eye because it failed to give Sheffield United a legitimate goal in the first match of Project Restart – the game itself ended 0-0 between the Yorkshire based club and Aston Villa.  A compensation agreement between the two parties could subsequently be reached just like Sheffield United received back in 2006/07 when they narrowly missed out on staying up to West Ham.

Standout performances in the Premier League

Throughout their five-year stay in England’s top flight the Cherries were known for their inventive and easy on the eye attacking style of play, however, they never were quite able to solve their defensive issues that would ultimately come back to haunt them in the 2019/2020 campaign.

In total they played 190 matches, winning 56 and losing 91 times.  Eddie Howe’s side, however, managed just 38 clean sheets out of those 190 games conceding 330 goals.

Their first season in the Premier League, they managed to finish 16th with a total of 42 points from 38 games, one of their stand out moments that season was achieving a 2-1 victory over Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United side where winger Junior Stanislas somehow managed to score directly from a corner.

The following season they achieved their highest finish in the division, an impressive ninth place with 46 points that was level with their south coast rivals, Southampton.

Eddie Howe’s men produced a number of impressive displays at the Vitality Stadium that year, including a memorable 4-3 victory over Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team, which was only secured in the 93rdminute through the currently in demand Dutch centre back Nathan Ake.

The subsequent two seasons saw finishes of 12thand 14th respectively for the South Coast side, where again they were able produce terrific performances against the ‘established top six’ of the Premier League.  Another standout performance in particular was an impressive 3-0 against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea at Stanford Bridge.  They caused more problems for the Blues the following season by securing a 4-0 win over them at the Vitality.

Where did it go wrong?

The final season for the Cherries in the top flight actually began very well for them as they secured notable 3-1 victories over the likes of Southampton and Everton.  While at the start of November they managed their second win over Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium thanks to a former Red Devils reserve team player, King.  They also caused more problems for Chelsea at Stanford Bridge as they managed to hold on to a 1-0 win curtsey of a Dan Gosling goal.

Ultimately, however, it was results in the second half of the campaign that proved Eddie Howe’s sides undoing.  Poor performances against relegation rivals such as West Ham and Watford where they lost 4-0 and 3-0 respectively proving to be particularly costly in January.  While further heavy defeats to the likes of Burnley and Newcastle saw Bournemouth subsequently slide into the relegation zone, before the final nail in the coffin proved to be a 2-0 home defeat to Southampton in their final home game of the season.

They did, however, manage impressive performances towards the end of the season, a 4-1 win over fifth placed Leicester City and a closing 3-1 victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton that ultimately proved in vain as Aston Villa secured the crucial point that they needed to stay up at West Ham.

The benefits of top-flight football

Following the football club’s relegation to The Championship this past the weekend, The Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council leader Vikki Slade said:

“Nothing can take away the achievement and meteoric rise of the club that we witnessed five amazing seasons ago.

“The appeal of Premier League football to national and international audiences has helped to put our area firmly on the map for attracting inward investment and tourism.”

While the Dorset Chamber of Commerce president, Liz Willingham was keen to stress:

“Overnight, we were put on a global map in such a positive way; I know for a fact that the area received a much needed boost in profile and awareness as a result of the club’s Premiership status.

“One example of the difference has been Bournemouth University’s ability to attract new students.  A significant increase, particularly in international students, was purely attributed to Bournemouth’s presence on screens all over the world.”

 

What next?

Since their relegation to The Championship as well as losing Eddie Howe, Bournemouth will most likely have to accept the fact that centre back Ake and forward King will move on, while there has already been interest from West Ham and Tottenham in another Cherries striker who helped take them up, the England international striker, Wilson.

For the new manager, the task will inevitably be trying to get The Cherries back to the Premier League.  The Championship, however, is always a notoriously competitive and tough division to predict. Next season will certainly be no different with the likes of fellow relegated sides, Watford and Norwich City looking to bounce straight up as well as previous European Cup winners Nottingham Forest, who narrowly missed out on the play-offs it is sure to be as challenging as ever.