If theres one thing Nottingham Forest are this season, its consistently inconsistent.
We arrive at January, with a 3rd Round FA Cup game to come, having been knocked out of the Carabao 5-0 by Southampton, and sitting in 10th with 41 points after 25 games.
We’ve had runs of 8 league games unbeaten, followed by 3 losses, followed by a 6 game winning spree. We’re delightfully inconsistent at the moment. But, I think I’ve worked out whats gone wrong.
We have a solid backbone to the side, with 2 soft segments, and both of these are what have led to our poor performances.
Firstly, the goalkeeping.
Luke Steele and Costel Pantilimon departed in the close season, and left Jordan Smith and Tiago Silva to fight out for the first choice. The Portuguese got the first choice shirt, and for a while, it paid off, however, after the Southampton defeat, his confidence dropped, and he hasn’t got it back yet. I didn’t spot this part of our weakness until it had effected us in several losses.
I feel Jordan Smith, whilst a good keeper at the level we’re at, may never press on to the top end of the division, and as such, until one of the younger keepers is ready, I need a goalkeeper.
The new goalkeeper comes in from Skien in Southern Norway, where he has made over 150 appearances in the Norwegian Eliteserien for Odd.
Sondre Rossbach joins for a fee of £1.7m (£350k up front, with £1.4m in addons over 3 years), and made his debut for his country in November 2018.
Secondly, we’re a bit weak in front of the back 4. After the departure of Claudio Yacob, and Ben Watson also departing on loan, I’ve been playing Ben Osborn there. At 5’9″, hes definitely not the most imposing of players, and whilst his determination and workrate make up for it, he lacks the strength to succeed in front of the back 4.
We have had a ready made replacement in the squad since early September, in Darren Fletcher, but, he has only just gained fitness back having been injured since his arrival. He (along with 3 other players) were picked up for their personality in mentoring.
As such, a new signing was called for, and, again, it came from Iberia.
For a fee of £150k (£50k up front, and £100k in 6 months), Portuguese anchor man Diogo Gomes joins from Leixoes.
Strong, quick, and with an excellent work rate, he is what we need in front of the back 4, and, although he may be lacking in composure and bravery, this can be worked on in the coming months.
Up front, Lewis Grabban tops the goalscoring charts with 8 goals in his 22 league games, something which he needs to improve on slightly, although, there have been many contributions from midfield.
Theres also been interest in some players, with Joe Worrall and Joao Carvalho attracting bids from Cardiff and Mainz respectively.
Both were negotiated, and left to the players to discuss terms.
Worrall has found his time very limited this season, and understandably accepted his offer, and will depart. However, we won’t have to look far for his replacement, with 17 year old Portuguese CB Carlos Manuel Fernandes (picked up in the summer from Leixoes for £115k), being promoted to the first team squad to take his place. Fellow 17 year old CB, the Spaniard Xabi Saizar is currently on loan at York gaining experience.
Trying to maintain movements within the squad to a minimum, Carvalho agreed to move to Mainz, a move which was delayed for a week, to allow a replacement to be sourced, as the only left wingers in the squad weren’t developed enough for us.
One deal was completed following the departure of Carvalho. Scottish centre midfielder Kyle Magennis (21) joins for a fee of £2m from St.Mirren. He had a £2m release fee to foreign clubs, and the scouting reports were highly positive, increasing in rating every time we watched him.
An added bonus, for a player of a young age, he has over 100 appearances in senior football, something which will stand him in good stead in the squad.
Coming up is the end of the window. I’ll go through all the bits and pieces in my next post.