Sabri Lamouchi’s debut season in English football has seen Nottingham Forest’s long awaited return to the Premier League become a real possibility with the club finding themselves in the play-off places with 9 games to go while we await the future of what’s to come in English football. We talk to Nottingham Forest fan Harry Martin about what life has been like under the Frenchman so far this campaign.
When Sabri Lamouchi was appointed manager of Nottingham Forest, what was your immediate reaction?
It was a much needed change of direction from the club, albeit a bit of a gamble some may say. Under O’Neill, Forest really lacked a sense of any kind of shape and you couldn’t really pinpoint what sort of ideas he was trying to get across. When Lamouchi was appointed so soon after the club announcing MON’s departure, you really felt like Marinakis and co had their man, and that talks would’ve been going on for a while. Most Forest fans would admit they didn’t know too much about the incoming Frenchman, despite him having a good track record both at club level and internationally. 9 months down the line, and I think it’s safe to say we are all won over, and Despite MON’s status in Forest history, the club wouldn’t be where we are now with him in charge.
Before a ball was kicked, how did you rate your squad as a whole? And what were your hopes and expectations going into the season?
Going into the season, I was very happy with the additions we had made, strengthening massively in key areas. The only concern I had was in the backup to talisman Lewis Grabban. Forest rely so heavily on the frontman that if any injuries occurred, you’d think we’d really struggle in replicating the kind of goal return he brings. Over the last few years there hasn’t been too much to celebrate at forest in terms of league finishes, but going into this one I was quietly confident that we could challenge amongst the top sides in the league, and subsequently I am very happy with where we sit at the minute, and I believe it’s very deserved.
You seem to have found some stability this season, what’s been the key to giving yourself a shot of promotion?
This season, as I’m sure most fans would agree, we’ve seen a side to forest which hasn’t been there in a long long time, and ultimately Lamouchi is the brains behind it. Forest have been able to grind out the ‘ugly’ wins time and time again and have been defensively sound on so many occasions. Being so hard to beat genuinely means you need a striker to take chances that arrive, and again in Lewis Grabban, they’ve had a reliable, consistent source of goals which has certainly been a massive positive thus far. Lamouchi has also been able to transform the likes of Matty Cash into the best Right Back in the Division, and Ben Watson who’s forest career was dwindling, into a mainstay in that midfield. A superb man manager, Lamouchi knows how to get the best of this set of players.
When looking back on all the games, what have been the real highs and lows of the season for you personally?
There’s certainly been more highs than lows this season. For me, the win at Craven Cottage early on in the season was a real highlight of Lamouchi’s hard to beat style but also being clinical up front when it matters most. Wins at home to Birmingham (3-0) and away to QPR (4-0) were also very impressive performances where forest really opened up and flexed there attacking flair.
Clubs often live and die by their recruitment, how would you assess your new arrivals at this stage?
Again I’d have to say on the whole the incomings have been very impressive. Samba Sow and Brice Samba have become two of the most influential players in this forest side. Without Samba Sow in the midfield, forest lose their steeliness, and Brice Samba has been a class above compared to recent keepers, he breeds confidence throughout that back 4. The free transfer of Sammy Ameobi has proved to be very smart business from the club, providing key goals and a real threat and unpredictability at times.
What are your immediate emotions when reflecting on the whole journey? Should the season resume, do you think you will achieve promotion?
It’s been a very positive season, one we haven’t seen in a long time in terms of sustaining a promotion push and actually looking like real contenders. Our ability to beat the ‘top’ sides and keep teams out is what fills me with confidence should the season resume at some point and of course we cement a playoff spot. Should we finish the remaining 9 games i’d fancy our chances, but as we know, the playoffs are a complete lottery it really is anyone’s to win.
What do you make of these thoughts Forest fans? Let us know in the comments below!