Claudio Yacob started only his second game in a Nottingham Forest shirt last Saturday. Given the way he performed, he’ll be starting a hell of a lot more before the season finishes.
Admittedly, I was slightly confused when Aitor Karanka signed the Argentinian on a two-year deal at a time when we had a long list of midfielders to choose from. Considering that the club had the likes of Liam Bridcutt, who performed well when given a run-out against Newcastle in the cup, waiting in the wings, I failed to see when or where Yacob would feature.
Most of the Reds supporters voiced their concerns about the defensive midfield pairing of Ben Watson and Jack Colback earlier in the season, a tandem that worked well together at the backend of the 2017/18 campaign. It’s fair to say that the directives are indeed different this time around, with promotion to the Premier League replacing the stability and survival agendas from seven months ago. With that in mind, it has presented the likes of Adlene Guedioura and Yacob with the opportunity to turn passes that previously travelled in a sideways direction into those of a forward trajectory.
Guedioura’s form has been a little inconsistent at times which, in my opinion, has opened the door for Yacob to stake his claim for a regular pick in the team. It’s fair to say that Jacob had an excellent debut in a Forest shirt against Sheffield United earlier in the month. The City Ground faithful, myself included, were bemused to see that he was only on the bench for the visit of Stoke City next time out. However, Karanka once again rewarded the 31-year-old with a start against Hull, and he reciprocated by producing a masterclass of a display as Forest eased to victory against the Tigers.
From start to finish, Yacob controlled the tempo of the game and successfully linked up the play in both halves of the field. The former West Brom man always seemed to be in motion, and it doesn’t take a genius to know that a moving target is much harder to hit. He just looks so composed in any given situation, on and off the ball.
Lifelong Forest supporter Bernie Gibbons, who made the trip to Hull, was full of praise, not just for the team in general but also for the brilliance of Yacob in particular. Gibbons said: “He looked every inch the Premier League player he was. He reads the game so well and is always in the right place. He was so composed on the ball. Colback and the three in front pushed up really high and that was no coincidence for me!”
Gibbons, a former manager himself, hit the nail on the head regarding the positive effect Yacob had on those around him. It was an astute observation, highlighting just how influential a midfielder can be towards the overall shape of the side.
I’m also hopeful that Yacob’s inclusion will extinguish the doubts surrounding Karanka’s 4-2-3-1 formation. Although, he’s played only two whole matches in a Forest shirt, Claudio Yacob could be one of the signings of the season after all.