OPINION: Nottingham Forest are lacking leadership on the pitch
Life is never straight forward at Nottingham Forest Football Club is it?
It was August 27th the last time Forest tasted victory, beating Leeds United at the City Ground, in a game which signified that the Reds could be in for a pretty decent campaign.
Just after the 3-1 win over the Whites, the club sold star youngster Oliver Burke for £13 million and in turn the Reds have failed to win a single game, despite holding a lead in all seven league fixtures since the baffling news broke on Bank Holiday Sunday regarding Burke.
I refuse to use this article as a chance to have another rant at the club selling Burke. Players come and go in football and Forest as a club must move on but the timing of the sale made life increasingly difficult for boss Philippe Montanier to source an adequate replacement.
By taking the lead in every game since the last international break, Forest have shown that they can be a very good side in the Championship.
First half performances at Sheffield Wednesday and Bristol City and at home to Norwich City have proved that the Reds can compete.
The real problem at the moment, and one of the reasons that the Reds have failed to hold onto any of the leads they have taken, is the lack of leadership within the side.
The team’s soft underbelly is crippling the club’s chances of a position in the higher echelons of the Sky Bet Championship right now and it simply isn’t good enough.
Henri Lansbury is officially the captain, kind of, although Chris Cohen is another regular carrier of the armband too.
Even Eric Lichaj was handed the chance to skipper the side in the midweek draw against Fulham and the less said about that the better to be honest.
Matt Mills would have been the perfect candidate for the captain’s armband based on last season but this campaign he has looked shaky in defence and somewhat miserable in himself. The ex-Bolton man seems to be suffering from a confidence crisis at present and something doesn’t seem quite right with Mills, who resembles the look of a child who has just been told that he can’t have any sweets from the shop!
I look back to the days of Paul McKenna, who was an uncompromising central midfielder, not blessed with an abundance of quality by any stretch of the imagination, but who had a presence about him.
McKenna was a proper leader and when he didn’t play his absence was noticeable. He came to Forest to add some knowhow to a young side and his leadership qualities were unrivalled as far as my 17 seasons as a season ticket holder goes.
If he was a little bit more vocal I think David Vaughan could step up and become a decent captain.
To be honest, he isn’t really any less vocal that Chris Cohen so the Welshman could be an option.
That said, Vaughan has to play more regular for a start and this is the one gripe I do have with Monsieur Montanier at present.
Vaughan was the team’s best outfield player by some distance last season but has started just twice during the 2016/17 campaign.
The midfielder has missed some games through injury admittedly but after putting in a performance which earned him the Man of the Match accolade in midweek, he was found benched once again for the trip to Bristol City.
The chopping and changing is really starting to get my back up particularly when it means that competent Championship players such as Vaughan are not getting in the side.
If someone could rock up to the club’s training ground with a board of cheese and a DVD showing all of Vaughan’s Championship performances from last season, for the attention of the manager that would be great.
Vaughan’s presence in the side would offer the fragile back four better protection than it is currently getting at present and would also allow Lansbury to be used in his favoured role further up the pitch.
The Reds have been awful at the back so far during the opening exchanges of the campaign and things really can only get better defensively.
The defending has been about as adequate as Europe’s putting in the Ryder Cup and an improvement is desperately required for Philippe Montanier, who now has to wait two weeks to right the wrongs of the 2-1 reverse at Bristol City on Saturday.