Tiago Silva produced his best display in a Forest shirt to date last weekend, and in doing so cemented his place in the starting eleven for the foreseeable future.
The 26-year-old has improved game by game and is providing some refreshing competition for his fellow Portuguese João Carvalho. It’s no exaggeration to say that he was unplayable against the Rams last Saturday.
Even though Derby County had failed to score against the Reds in their previous four meetings, they did their best to right those wrongs in the first half. Many were surprised at the positivity of the away side as they looked dangerous in the opening exchanges.
It was always going to be a scrappy, attritional affair but one that you felt the home side would eventually prevail in.
And, as I said last week, even without Samba Sow we’d have enough brawn in the middle of the park to win this battle.
Tiago Silva was the fulcrum of Forest’s midfield in the East Midlands derby, both defensively and offensively. He was a refreshing throwback to the good old days of an alternating midfield pair. Yes, once upon a time, before number tens and specialist holding midfielders, most top sides would operate with a ‘number six’ and a ‘number eight’.
Their objective would be to take it in turns to sit and smash or to bomb on and create. In layman’s terms, “I’ll hold if you push on” and vice versa. Ironically, it’s basically the blueprint for Chris Wilder’s central defenders at Sheffield United.
If ever you meet former Forest legend Colin Barratt, be sure to ask him about this!
Although Ryan Yates didn’t exactly push on against the Rams, he’s certainly capable of doing so. Good examples of which can be found in the away fixtures at Preston and West Bromwich Albion last season. This, for me is an exciting prospect, because Silva certainly showed that he can put a boot in when it’s needed.
Against Derby, Tiago Silva did plenty of ball recycling but wowed the Reds supporters with some sublime trickery too. His mockery of Duane Holmes on the left flank was absolutely world class, or “tekkers” as those crazy kids say these days!
Going forward, it’s yet another viable option for Sabri Lamouchi, who has the luxury of pairing Silva with Yates or Sow depending on the order of the day. Nicer problems to have.
It’s fair to say that Nottingham Forest looked more dangerous from the flanks against Derby, and for the purpose of balance I will express a small concern regarding over reliance on this.
Whilst Sammy Ameobi and Joe Lolley have weighed in with a few goals and assists, despite the brilliance of Silva, we don’t seem to produce enough for Grabban through the centre.
I’m referring to assists like the one provided by Carvalho for Adomah against Preston, defence splitting passes down the middle.
It’s certainly not a criticism, but to avoid predictability, I’d like to see a little more variation in attack from the midfield. It’s an ideal opportunity for João to force his way back into the frame.
Which brings me perfectly to the goal scorer Lewis Grabban, who again worked tirelessly for the team with a limited supply.
When he got his chance, he took it with aplomb, and gave Forest their 42nd victory over their bitter rivals.
Once again, we must praise the brilliance of Forza Garibaldi for their emotional remembrance display prior to kick off.
Regardless of the sometimes-vitriolic nature of this contest, without the sacrifice and bravery of those who gave their lives in exchange for our freedom, this fixture would not have taken place; lest we forget!