Aitor Karanka deserves a huge pat on the back for the speedy recruitment of Saidy Janko, and it’s no coincidence that Nottingham Forest are defending much better since his arrival at the City Ground.
The 22 year old Swiss full back has had first team experience at the likes of Manchester United and Celtic before joining Portuguese giants FC Porto this summer.
For whatever reason, things haven’t gone to plan at his parent club, from whom Forest have acquired his services on a season long loan.
The player himself went on record to say, “It was a bit of a mess in Porto,” which only magnifies the apparent rift between player and employer.
However, Porto’s loss is Nottingham Forest’s gain, and the new boy’s performances have instantaneously affected our results for the better. Janko has played three times so far and the Reds have conceded just once in that period, which was a lucky consolation goal for Sheffield Wednesday when all’s said and done.
A few weeks back, I said that when the likes of Sam Byram and Jack Robinson broke into the starting eleven at Forest, the performances would improve as a result of their inclusion.
Unfortunately for Byram, his impressive start to life at the City Ground was cut short due to injury, where as Robinson, on the other hand has taken a little longer to bear fruits but is improving with every passing game.
As I said at the beginning of this article, hats off to Aitor Karanka for precuring such a quality player on transfer deadline day. There were a few Forest supporters who disagreed when I hinted that Tendayi Darikwa was not the gaffer’s cup of tea, but the signing of Janko only substantiates those sentiments even more so.
Despite not having kicked a ball for FC Porto, Saidy Janko has obviously kept himself fit.
His athleticism in his first three games for Forest has been mighty impressive. Not only does he defend well but he is adept at getting forward and joining the attacks at every opportunity.
The most notable facet of his game so far has been his ability to prevent crosses into the box, a trait that has haunted the Forest defence for some years now. He has that doggedness and determination to close down the spaces and suffocate his opponent, something that I’ve not seen from any of our right backs for some time now.
Before I’m accused of overlooking the obvious, it would be remiss to ignore the performance of Danny Fox against Rotherham on Saturday, who fully deserved his man of the match award.
In fact, it’s the most balanced back four I’ve seen this season. You could argue that both Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham lacked any attacking impetus but with Michael Hefele barking the orders, the back line looked disciplined and well organised.
That very same back four have been unchanged for 270 minutes, and it’s no coincidence that in that period Forest have accrued the same amount of points as they did in the opening six league games.
There are tougher tests ahead for Saidy Janko and his colleagues though, the likes of Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and Leeds United are waiting in the wings and will no doubt be more offensive than the three sides we’ve just faced. But, I’m certain that the more games this defence plays together, the better they will become as a unit.
Janko’s signing reminded me of when we lost Dani Pinillos to a serious injury back in 2015, a time where it seemed inconceivable that Forest would ever sign a decent left back again.
Pinillos’s injury triggered the loan signing of Bojan Jokic, who like Saidy Janko, proved to be a surprisingly good acquisition for the club.
Dougie Freedman will not be remembered with a sense of endearment by our supporters but credit where it’s due for that particular bit of business.
Both Aitor Karanka and his loan signing have expressed desires to make the move a permanent one at some stage, which is something I’d welcome with open arms.
I’ve been massively impressed with the addition of Saidy Janko and he could well be the final piece of Aitor Karanka’s defensive puzzle.