Philippe; shore up Forest’s backlline, because defence wins you titles
One does question how legendary Forest manager Brian Clough would make of his former side’s current progress, which has been nothing less than entertaining in the extreme.
As it stands, Philippe Montanier’s side remarkably have a goal difference of zero – however, they have scored and conceded 15. This makes the Reds the third highest scoring side in the league, but also the joint second worst alongside the apparently already doomed Blackburn Rovers. Well, they did hire Owen Coyle…
Considering Clough was a fierce advocate of building from the back, forever stressing the importance of having a defence, you would think badly. That said, he was also a keen believer of playing to your strengths.
Right now, it seems that Forest’s strength is attacking – and attacking incredibly efficiently and effectively. Take Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw with Rotherham United, where Forest scored more goals in nine minutes than East Midland rivals Derby County have in seven games.
While they have shown glimpses that they can defend – barring a few wobbles, the first-half against Aston Villa was a perfect example of how to frustrate a side and remain tight at the back. The second-half however, saw Forest concede twice in two minutes.
Some will point at Montanier’s insistence to rotate his back line as to goals are being conceded – however, this can’t be blamed for individual errors, which seems to be what’s letting down the side at crucial moments.
You can rotate a back line as much as possible, but that has absolutely no effect on your full-back failing to stop a cross or a defender missing a tackle or being outmanoeuvred in the air. It isn’t like a high line routinely being exposed, where you can take issue with the defence and the tactics in place.
Admittedly, the side is not at full strength. The club’s best left-back for over a decade in Dani Pinillos – a huge call considering he’s only played 19 league games for the club – is still recovering from a serious injury, and new left-back Armand Traore has only just made his first league start for the club.
This means that Danny Fox – who is good going forward, but incredibly suspect at the back – is a bit of a mainstay at left back for the short-term, meaning Forest’s defensive frailties down one side won’t be fixed anytime soon.
Thankfully for now, going forward is a different entity, though this has also been used as a reason to explain the amount of goals shipped. Montanier’s adventurous, attacking style is great – make no mistake about it. But, you can’t expect to score 2.14 goals per game – Forest’s average at present – in every fixture you play in.
It sounds so simple, but just sorting the defence out and ironing out those individual errors could turn a season where Forest safely finish in mid-table into a truly magical one, giving us a shot at the league above.
Goals win you games, but a defence wins you titles.