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From My Seat

"Opinions are like a***holes, eveyone has one" - so let's hear yours'.

Martin O'Neill transfer policy NFFC

Transferring responsibility

I think it's safe to say the five new signings, whether decent or not, are not Martins. You can bet they are the first off the new transfer panel's approved list. Maybe I'm a bit old and unsophisticated to appreciate the modern structure of a football club and the need for a Director of Football and another of Sport even though we only play football as far as I know. I didn't like Aitor's profligacy with the club credit card either really, definitely his readiness to leave out players that cost a lot of money. In some ways the transfer policy though, rather than the players themselves, made more sense. Most are loans but they are all more experienced, solid players that add more in terms of quantity than quality if appearances are anything to go by. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing if you're going for promotion in the short term but we are set for a huge amount of churn at the end of next season if not this one. 

Yohan Benalouane has made an impressive start, although he has been far too regularly featuring in the ref's notebook. He's extremely strong in the air and undoubtedly committed in the tackle. The others we have barely had a sight of yet although indications are that Leo Bonatini might prove a shrewd signing. On paper though they look a solid bunch. I have a lot more trouble explaining the sale of the rejuvenated Danny Fox. The logic is he was offered a two year contract that we weren't happy to match so the choice was to get some money now or nothing at the end of the season when the offer of two years would lure him away anyway. Whilst in desperate need at centre half though the money in hand now might prove expensive if we make a decent, but not quite good enough, fist of the rest of the season and making the playoffs. The timing was unfortunate but Fox feels he was dumped and given very little choice but to leave a dressing room he had become an integral part of in recent years. The club offering a year extension now and showing him a bit more love would probably have been enough and even an added incentive for a player nearing the twilight of his career to make them some of his best years. It doesn't sit well with me when wholehearted and committed players like Foxy and Lichaj are dumped so unceremoniously by the club. Even if it makes good business sense it sends out the wrong message. Gil Dias short stay also came to an abrupt but not so unexpected end. There's no doubt he totally failed to live up to his potential, maybe it was just the wrong environment for him but he is one who's got away. Nothing quite went right for him but he has bags of talent and but for his horror show off the bench at Norwich he might still have more opportunity to prove his worth. He's already making headlines in Greece to prove my point.

Personally though I do wonder why you need directors of this and that. To choose the players the manager needs when he's the one who has to work with them and is supposed to know best what he needs. Why have a dog and bark yourself? I can see the value of 'men in white coat' types who can analyse players and negotiate transfers far more effectively than a manager might be able to. I can also see a 'Man from Delmonte' effect might be enticing to potential signings. 'I've come to sign you for Nottingham Forest' might be the modern day alternative to having Cloughie 'tap up' a potential signings wife on a Tuesday afternoon. However I just feel the division of labour in this setup also leads to a division of responsibility too. Who's signing is he? You signed him! No, you did! How a manager can be committed to a player he's not chosen compared to one he has or how the player can feel loyalty to the manager when he knows he didn't sign him as well I am not too sure about. Clough's belief in his players goes a long way to explain their success, removing it might go a long way to undermining it in my opinion. I've always thought of football as far more of an art than a science. The other thing is this new fangled structure is primarily supposed to create a production line of talent above the comings and goings of managers. A consistent policy that outlives any manager. This is all very good if you have very talented people making these decisions, if you don't have the modern day Peter Taylor though... you might have found the quick way to ruin the best part of another decade by this course of action. When you have someone like Joao Carvalho sitting on the bench after what he cost us you have to say the whole system, whatever it is, is failing purely by virtue of this fact alone.

My own policy would be far more simple. I've always thought that less is more. I'd sign as few players as necessary. Try to create a settled, strong team first. Then only buy new players who are definitely an upgrade on players you already have. It's simple. Don't tinker too much. Just make sure you make really high quality signings who will walk into your team. Otherwise have quite a thin squad and rely on youth more. Put a bit of meat in the water and see who bites. Talented kids need a chance more than anything. They don't know just what they're capable of any more than their managers might. Whilst they have that belief you mustn't crush it, it's their most valuable asset and all too rare with kids in modern football. Aside from the football it's also a good model on a business basis too. Basically buy cheap, sell high. The big signings you make are quality and will tend to hold their value and bring you success and the opportunities you give kids will yield pure profit even if they don't quite make the grade with you, equally solid but first teamers now surplus to requirements will hold their value too. Your club is effectively a shop window to make money. You have to use it to the maximum possible benefit of the club. You need to treat it with care. Not have too much stock, show it to its best effect and not have loads hidden away in the stock room not getting any interest and losing value. Forest have suffered from dumping previously valuable players on high wages too quickly and being left with a 'bomb squad' that are only a negative thing for the club and of no help to the players trapped in it without an effective route out. There's a myth players are happy to just pick up their huge wages and not play. Of course there are exceptions to every rule but most, even if it is a last pay day, would always much rather play than not. The wages they get anyway but they are still sportsmen and would want to play anyway, whether or not they were able to get a lucrative contract to do so. I have always had an issue with the way Karanka dumped decent players at the drop of a hat. Players like Dowell and McKay were unplayable on their day, dreadful when it wasn't their day though and just not managed properly. If the manager has lost belief in them then it's best not to tell the whole world. Hype them, make them look as good as possible, have niggles to explain absences and chances when points aren't really at stake to show them in the best possible light. Then get rid of them on your terms. You get some players who do everything possible to prove that signing them was just an awful mistake. The Jason Cummings of this world are a tragic reality. The boy has undoubted talent but no idea in his head about the way to handle himself, the novelty wears thin, especially when you're paying him so much to play the fool. Jamie Ward and Liam Bridcutt aren't fools. They've both got CVs that say otherwise and even if they've no future with Forest purely due to numbers, maybe muddled thinking too, then there's no point in keeping hold of them and paying them so handsomely. It says a lot about both that they chose to play for the U23s this week and hopefully they and the club will see the benefit of the decision to play them whatever the future holds.

In the meantime though the message should be - whoever it is who is pulling the strings - sign Jack Colback as soon as possible. He's worth several of your typical signings, he's tried and tested and represents great value whatever it would take to get him signed up. Show him some love and he will jump at the chance of continuing to run the Forest midfield for years to come. Equally look at Ryan Yates. His attitude has been truly outstanding. Bristling with nervous energy his quality of passing hasn't quite matched his tenacity but what an impact he has made. He's waited and only sees a huge carrot in front of him. If he keeps playing as he has he becomes almost undroppable. That is exactly what you want. Players wanting to play and a manager who will know when to rest and protect them when the anxiety creeps in as it no doubt will. Whilst he's playing above himself just enjoy it and treat it as a huge bonus. He might not go on to make the grade in the long term, who can say? However his impact so far has been an object lesson is not only the attitude you want to see from a young player but also the right way to manage a young, delicate career in its formative stages. You hope all these directors of this or that might actually help. I hope to be proven wrong but my opinion is, when it comes to transfers, too many cooks spoil the broth.


Started by a grumpy old Forest Fan still suffering a hangover from the biggest party in football history but 100% behind The Reds once again returning to where they belong. Moved to Nottingham to follow the dream first hand and join The Red Army.

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