They may have lost to Norwich at the weekend, but we still back Forest to come good…
A truly Karanka-esque performance at The Riverside capped off seven games unbeaten and fifth place in the Sky Bet Championship for the Reds heading into the international break. We are a little over two months into this brand new season and I can tell you already that Nottingham Forest are going to be right up there, and here’s why…
Let us start with the main man. His sacking back in March 2017 could and should be seen as a bad move made by the Middlesbrough board. Their lack of confidence had led the Spaniard to believe he could do no more for the Teessiders. Despite the lack of goals, Middlesbrough were a hard team to beat.
STRONG: Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough had the fifth best defence in the Premier League, up to his departure in Spring 2017.
With a sturdy defence that includes man-mountain Michael Hefele, Karanka can give freedom to their lethal front four: Portuguese diamonds in the rough Joāo Carvalho and Diogo Gonçalves bring a never before seen quality to Forest. The mercurial Joe Lolley has, I think, surprised everyone and let’s not forget evergreen goal-getter Lewis Grabban spearheading this dynamic attack.
Karanka has certainly taken a risk exploring a new style with such a prestigious club so dredged in history, but, finally, it seems to have clicked.
One player I definitely didn’t see tearing the Championship apart was Joe Lolley. A four and a half year contract and a fee of around five hundred thousand pounds mean the 26 year old is far and away the bargain of the season.
His dynamite left foot may have only found the net four times so far, but what strikes me, and many other Championship fans, is the ease at which he glides past experienced defenders like they’re not even there.
Now that he seems to have ridden the injury wave, Joe Lolley is a forced to be reckoned with in this very potent Forest attack. If they were to mount a promotion push, he would be right in the middle of it…
Another forward. Awkward looking on the ball? Wears the number seven for Portugal? Faintly familiar?
Now I’m not saying that Diogo Gonçalves is the next Cristiano Ronaldo but the way he moves and drives at defenders has a striking similarity to Juve’s number seven.
He is far from the finished product, that’s for sure. You’ll often hear the City Ground groan in frustration at the 21 year old, but only because they know that they have a special player on their hands, a player that will get them off their seats. How they’ve longed for that.
I’m not going out there making the bold claim that Nottingham Forest Football Club will steamroll the league, picking up 100+ points and destroying every team that dares to step in their way. However, what I can say is that they’ll have to do something absolutely calamitous to not at least hit the playoffs.
They’re going to be one of the most exciting sides to watch this season and I back them to return to the top flight for the first time since 1999.