“It is bulls***”. It says a lot when Sabri Lamouchi uses such a phrase to describe the situation at Nottingham Forest following their fourth consecutive loss of the season – a 2-1 loss to Championship pace-setters Bristol City.
Nottingham Forest Suffer Fourth Back-to-Back Defeat but Positives Start to Show
Slow First Half but Plenty to Take From Promising Second Half
Lamouchi – a man often so controlled, patient and calculated – was clearly frustrated by the manner of the defeat. As the full-time whistle was called on a fourth back-to-back defeat for his side, he stood hands on his hips looking into the distance.
Confusion? Frustration? Worry? Plenty of emotions would likely have been flooding the Frenchman’s mind. Having had a slow first half, it was not until the second half that they showed true glimpses of their potential.
The Reds are enduring the worst start to a season in more than sixty years as early losses against Cardiff City, QPR, Huddersfield Town and Bristol City leave the Trickies in the relegation zone.
Defeat against Dean Holden‘s unbeaten Bristol City sends Lamouchi’s side into the international break without a single point on the Championship table – and just one goal from four matches. But, in the second half, they showed a clear pressing intensity, a desire to win the ball, a want to create chances and – at times – a sense of composure in defence.
The damage was dealt, however, as two first-half goals, from ex-Derby County man Andreas Weimann and Nahki Wells, put the visitors ahead in a devastating 20 minutes at the City Ground.
Forest’s dreadful defensive record continued, conceding after just 13 minutes. Having failed to clear their lines, the ball deflected off Alex Mighten towards Weimann. The Austrian controlled well before stabbing a shot beyond Brice Samba – his second goal of the season.
Eight minutes later the visitors – enjoying their best start to a season for 90 years – netted their second.
Crossing in from the wing, Jack Hunt picked out 6ft centre forward Chris Martin. The former Derby county front-man nodded the ball down to Wells and, with a sweet strike, he left Samba wrong-footed.
It could, however, have been a much different story for Forest had youngster Mighten been on-target inside the first five minutes.
The talented teenage winger – making his first senior start for the Reds – was picked out early on by debutant full-back Nicholas Ioannou. The Cypriot left-back delivered a pin-point cross for 18-year-old Mighten, but the wide man’s header was spectacularly kept out by Daniel Bentley.
Nottingham Forest’s major downfall came when switching from defence to attack. The Reds were as smooth as sandpaper when transitioning, with play breaking down due to miscommunication or an unknowingness of how Lewis Grabban would move when Harry Arter, Jack Colback and Luke Freeman had the ball.
Lamouchi’s side did, however, enjoy their first taste of goalscoring as Freeman produced an early goal of the season contender on 35 minutes. With passing options limited, the attacking midfielder drove past a handful of Bristol City defenders before rifling a long-range effort into the top corner.
The Reds very nearly equalised a minute later when Grabban found space inside the area, but his low arrowed shot was tipped away for a corner.
Improved Second Half Performance
Whatever was said at half-time clearly had an impact on Forest. Straight from the blocks, the Reds were threatening Dean Holden’s side; chances were created with Forest coming close when another Ioannou cross picked out Mighten inside the box, but the attempt was with no luck.
Cyrus Christie, on his first outing at The City Ground, was denied a strike to contend with Freeman’s when he drove forward and shot from distance, but Bentley’s diving save expertly denied the hosts a spectacular second.
And, had it not been for Bentley, the Reds could well have taken something from the match.
Both Grabban and substitute Lyle Taylor could have scored when found with space at close-range but Bentley, formerly of Brentford and Southend United, was on red-hot form.
Had supporters been in attendance at The City Ground, boos likely will have echoed around the historic stadium. Four back-to-back losses will undoubtedly leave question marks hanging over the integrity of Lamouchi as manager but 42 matches remain in the Championship.
This is the first time since Billy Davies that a manager at Nottingham Forest has had their tenure extended.
It is the first time, in recent seasons, that a Forest manager has been able to strengthen their own squad with aspirations of continuing to compete. Adding more than ten players to a squad – including one in every position aside from out-wide – means team fluidity will take time.
Yes, the Reds are pointless. Yes, Nottingham Forest have scored only one goal in four matches. But, yes, to be calling for a change in management is an over-reaction.