Tag Archives: Nottingham Forest

FA Cup Preview: Nottingham Forest v Cardiff City

FA Cup third round weekend sees this all Championship tie at the City Ground. Forest have only beaten Cardiff twice since 2012 with the Bluebirds winning ten times. Cardiff won 2-0 when the sides met in Nottingham earlier in the season with Kieffer Moore scoring both goals. Home advantage hasn’t been such a factor this season and Forest will be glad of that as Cardiff have won on their last six visits to Nottingham.

Team News

For Forest Luke Freeman is close to a return to the side after two months out. Chris Hughton could use this game to rest some key players. Cyrus Christie, Yuri Ribeiro, Samba Sow and Lewis Grabban among those who may miss this one.

Cardiff have a centre half problem Sean Morrison went off early against Wycombe. Aden Flint has returned to Cardiff from Sheffield Wednesday but is injured. Filip Benkovic has returned to Leicester City and Sol Bamba also carrying an injury. Lee Tomlin is still not ready as is on-loan Jordi Osei-Tutu. Kieffer Moore is still out with a hamstring tear.

Manager Thoughts

Forest Manager Chris Hughton insists that they will be taking the FA Cup seriously,

“This competition has a special place for me, as a player, a coach and as a manager. The feel of the cup is always there, we all know the circumstances this season are very different to other seasons because of no supporters and a different general feel, but whenever the FA Cup comes around there is that little spark and that is through everybody.

“For them, I think they will want to get back to winning ways. I don’t know what team they will put out but my thoughts are that they will go strong. They had their last league game that was called off so I anticipate they will go strong.

“We are probably, with regards to form, going into it a bit different, but we all know that in one-off games that can go quickly out of the window. We have a strong reason for wanting to win the game and so have they.”

Cardiff boss Neil Harris will miss the fans as they help to make the Cup special,

“If you take the fans out of it, you’re taking away a massive chunk of the FA Cup,” he began. “But it’s a competition that I enjoy and we’re taking seriously, as always.

“I was very fortunate to have played or managed in Quarter-Finals, a Semi-Final and a Final, so I’ve had a great affiliation with the competition, but it’s not the same without the fans.

“It’s the best cup competition in the world for two reasons: because the fans buy into it in the UK and because the underdog status gives you the opportunity to play in a cup final.

“It’s a game I want to win and I’ll be picking a team accordingly to win the game.”

Prediction; Nottingham Forest 1-0 Cardiff City

Cardiff have had a poor showing in cup competitions in recent years and given the amount of injuries Cardiff are carrying, Forest will finally beat the Bluebirds at home.

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.

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.

Analysis of the Championship Run-in

Championship fans up and down the country were today (June 8) given a huge boost of excitement with the EFL announcing the restart schedule released – along with confirmed TV selections.

The journey will continue for Sky Bet Championship clubs with the action kicking off again on Saturday 20 June. They couldn’t have gone for a juicier opening fixture with promotion contenders Fulham & Brentford clashing in front of the Sky cameras for a West London derby.

So with just nine games remaining, who is in the running for promotion and relegation? Let’s break it down and give a final prediction of what could go down starting with the relegation candidates.

We all know what gruelling and outright horrible season the Championship can be for clubs. It is 46 games of tough, physical games of football and we would usually be talking of these remaining nine games as the last hurdle, but truthfully, with the break, everyone has now had, anything could happen. Even more, than it usually does. Seriously, the Championship has become even more unpredictable – let the party begin.

Last term, 44 points renewed Millwall’s Championship status and the year before that, 43 points kept Bolton up. Yet with 27 points still up for grabs, Hull City sit one place out the drop zone on 41 points which makes you realise we could be in for a much higher points total to guarantee safety.

So who are all the teams in the relegation run-in? I suppose this is almost impossible to pinpoint with the dramatic changes this league can produce but all the way up to seventeenth spot we have Stoke City who are just three points adrift. Below them are Huddersfield, Middlesbrough Wigan and Hull. The drop zone meanwhile contains Charlton, Luton, and Barnsley.

Given the number of ridiculous results that the Championship can produce I almost feel it a pointless exercise to start analysing the run-ins that the teams have but some crucial relegation clashes are coming up – one of them being Hull vs Middlesbrough.

The Yorkshire derby (I’m sorry) has been selected for Sky coverage on Thursday 2 July and could play a pivotal part. The Tigers made a terrible gamble in January by selling their dynamic duo of Jared Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom respectively and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone worse for them.

At one stage it looked like Hull might be in for a fairly stable season but since Christmas, they have picked up just eleven points from a possible forty-two, including heavy defeats in the last two outings to Leeds and Stoke.

Elsewhere, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wigan Athletic who were in the form of their lives and picked up huge wins over the current top two, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a huge fight meanwhile for Barnsley, who, despite some half-decent form themselves, are still bottom of the pile and seven points adrift. Gerhard Struber has not done a bad job with the Yorkshire club but the sheer awfulness of their start to the season before he took charge in November means that it still hasn’t been enough.

Charlton Athletic have been hit with a huge blow, which has been a big talking point ahead of the restart with several players including top scorer Lyle Taylor, refusing to continue. Taylor (30) is out of contract and states his physical health as reasons for not agreeing to a temporary extension as he doesn’t want an injury to prevent him from a move next season.

Even with Taylor’s goals, Charlton are two points deep in the relegation zone and without them, you do wonder where the results are going to come from. Below the Addicks, we have Luton Town who for most of the season have just looked a little bit out of their depth. It would be a shame for Luton to go down as their epic rise, fall and rise again has been a great story. Do they, however, have enough to stay up?

Huddersfield and Stoke may be living life dangerously sitting just three points clear, but the misfortunes of Charlton and Hull I think will keep them safe enough and out of the equation. Huddersfield will, however, have crucial games against Wigan and Luton, meanwhile Stoke will have to fight off tough opposition with three of the top six still to play.

Final Prediction
21: Charlton Athletic (Survived)
22: Hull City (Relegated)
23: Barnsley (Relegated)
24: Luton Town (Relegated)

So on we go to the epic prize that is the Premier League. Once again this is going to be a tough one to predict and it really wouldn’t shock me if a team I mention in this somehow ends up in a relegation scrap. This division is mental, it really is.

With just six points separating sixth and thirteenth – don’t shoot me if I end up getting this horrifically wrong.

I reiterate that form could completely go out the window with the big break that we have had and the run-ins could make no difference whatsoever but nonetheless, we’ll start with the current top two.

Leeds and West Brom have looked the best bets for promotion for a lot of this season and six points currently separates West Brom from Fulham in third with Leeds one point ahead of Albion in first. Both have had their bad spells this season and at one point it seriously looked like both Fulham and Brentford could take up the top two spots.

Before the pandemic, however, Leeds were in tantalising form winning their last five games and conceding no goals in the process. For West Brom, it was a little more up and down drawing away to Swansea and losing at home to Wigan but the Baggies did register big wins over Preston and Bristol City before that.

With Brentford ten points behind West Brom, we have to suggest at this stage that Fulham are the main contenders to challenge the top two.

However, a reminder that Fulham do host Brentford in the first game back and an away win for the Bees could give them a very good argument that they are still in the mix. Thomas Frank’s side will then have to face West Brom immediately afterwards at home so those two games perhaps could give us a good idea?

In that same game week, Leeds will host Fulham in what could also prove to be huge. My word I have missed this barnstormer of a league!

We must also not forget Nottingham Forest who sit level with Brentford in fifth, however, since their big home win over Leeds back in February, the form for Sabri Lamouchi’s men has been very up and down. They were shocked at home to Charlton and since been well beaten in their last game at the hands of Millwall. Forest have been crying out for Premier League football even longer than Leeds but still strike me as a team that is developing under Lamouchi.

There is no doubt that Lamouchi has transformed Forest into a much better side than we have seen over the years and for that reason, in my opinion, it puts him in the running for manager of the year. Should they, however, fall short this season they’d have to be big favourites next year.

Four points behind Forest in sixth we have Preston where thankfully we can now just be talking about who is going to take that spot come July. Not that I should completely disregard Preston ploughing through everyone in nine games and go up as champions but let’s just pretend that isn’t possible. Alex Neil is another manager who has done a tremendous job this season, turning Preston from a mid-table team to a side that is mounting a promotion challenge.

They do, however, face stiff competition from Bristol City, who are just a point behind The Lilywhites, while Millwall and Cardiff are just two points adrift. Oh, but then we have Blackburn, Swansea and Derby who are also very much in contention…I give in, please no one shoot me for this prediction.

To make matters more difficult these are all teams who’s form has been very inconsistent, I mean that’s probably why they are where they are. I do make a strong case for Gary Rowett’s Millwall though, who, since Rowett’s appointment I’ve identified as dark horses for promotion.

Rowett has had a lot of talk about him since his shock departure from Birmingham as to how good a coach he is and it did not go well for him at Stoke. At the time it looked a risky decision to take the managerial role at The Den, given that the previous season Millwall had very narrowly escaped relegation and were sat in seventeenth spot at the time of his appointment.

The Lions though have lost just five league games in his 23 game tenure and with just two points separating them and Preston they do look a good bet. Bristol City meanwhile were in very bad form before lockdown and despite that potentially making no difference anymore, they aren’t a team that has struck me as one that would maintain a spot in the playoffs. I would also say similarly with Guy Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, who have been in and around the mix for a while now and for a long time topped the form table, but ultimately I see them coming short.

Swansea and Derby are interesting ones because the Swans were at the top end of the table for a while before Christmas but a bad run of form led to their slip down the table. They are a young footballing side that given time under Steve Cooper, they could be well in the mix next season.

Derby, on the other hand, have had a very eventful season.  The signing of Wayne Rooney in January to the sacking of captain Richard Keogh. Focusing on the football, they’re a team that has tried to play out from the back under Phillip Cocu but just haven’t done it that well. Their fortunes have however recently changed and the results have started to come, which has led to them being back in the mix but I think it will be too little too late for them.

Final Prediction
1: Leeds (Promoted)
2: West Brom (Promoted)
3: Fulham
4: Brentford (Promoted via Playoffs)
5: Nottingham Forest
6: Millwall

Mind UK and the English Football League team up to launch the EFL Virtual Football Manager Cup!

Missing the thrill of seeing live football? Well EFL, Mind UK and Football Manager have collaborated to come up with perhaps the next best thing.

Following the postponement of live action on the football pitch, alongside the English Football League and the Mental Health Charity, Mind UK, Football Manager has decided to launch the EFL Football Manager Cup, an online tournament that kicks-off this week.

So far fans have been able to see Nottingham Forest winger Joe Lolley lead his team to a 2-1 win against Leeds United fan, Rob Callery’s side.  While virtual boss James Moulding’s Preston North End enjoyed a remarkable 10-1 victory over Crawley Town!

Elsewhere there have so far been wins for Middlesbrough, Mansfield Town and Leyton Orient.

The tournament is due to take place over the next month and involves 54 clubs from across the English Football League, with each being represented by a virtual manager who is part of that club either as a player, backroom staff or a supporter.

Football players featuring in the competition include goalkeeper Lee Camp, who is in charge of his current club Birmingham City, Ollie Kensdale is the man calling the shots for Colchester United and Blackburn’s Adam Armstrong is making the key decisions for his club.

The tournament is a straight knockout competition with the final due to take place in mid-May.  After each round is completed there will be highlights uploaded onto the FM YouTube channel for you to catch up on.

Crucially throughout the tournament you can also show your support for Mind UK by donating on this JustGiving page, which is open throughout the tournament.

The first round is due to finish on Thursday with games being played throughout the next few days, so you can sit back and enjoy the beautiful game.

  • Round one match dates – Monday April 20th to Thursday April 23rd
  • Round two – Week commencing April 27th
  • Round of 16 – Week commencing May 4th
  • Quarter-finals – Monday May 11th to Thursday May 14th
  • Semi-finals – Saturday May 16th
  • Final – Sunday May 17th

Game on!