Above all else I want Forest to be successful. I care more about how we as a club do it than who. Sure, I will always tend to support the current players and hope they're 'the ones' who are going to get it right but it's as a whole and not individuals. They win or lose as a team and need to make sense as a whole, not a set of individuals. I want a manager to select the 'best' players to do the job and what matters most is what they can do rather than the names on their shirts. I might not always agree that the best ones are bought, sold or selected but I always assume the manager knows better until there's overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Whatever the decision, I hope it's the right one for the good of the club. No one ever can really say, even with the advantage of hindsight it can still be debatable. It's all about opinions.
So the drama about the Brereton departure is a bit bewildering. I'm disappointed because what is without any doubt is that he has been considered a huge prospect, is still very young and has been sold effectively for not a huge amount of money. Probably the lowest payout anyone could really accept or expect. For whatever the reason it's the 'end of the dream'. Of course there were doubts, there still are, whether he will set the league alight or fade into obscurity. Maybe he will follow the trajectory of Patrick Bamford, maybe not that? Put aside the personality or whether you had never rated him, already written him off or hung your hat on him being the messiah. The fact is it's effectively over now, it is what it is, this is the outcome and it isn't the best outcome from the potential we, at least at one point, thought might come to far more. Surely whether you think it's time to fold or not, all Forest fans will share the disappointment that it hasn't been the greatest outcome.
It's not about the personalities really. How it looks at least. It's not about if Cashy has done really well by comparison or whether Worrall will also be sold off on the cheap. Brereton hasn't covered himself in glory or had a very picture painted of him by Karanka in his parting comments either. The messages from his team mates suggest to me he's probably not as bad has his PR might suggest. It's an area he should definitely work on as much as staying on his feet more but I actually think he's probably just a kid who wants to play, needs to play and is largely misunderstood more than anything. Maybe not, maybe Karanka understands completely and feels like he's cashed out perfectly before the facade becomes clear to everyone. It does seem that's what he thinks but if he just wanted to get rid he could have marketed his asset a bit more skilfully and cashed in more maybe if he had left the door open, allowed him to play a bit and prove his worth, if not to us, then to potential buyers.
Before they start their careers and before we have any significant opinions of them, what are our hopes for the futures of Virgil Gomis and Marvin Apaiah? I hope they are not only two of the brightest young talents that will hit the scene in the next few years but I hope they go on to prove that for years to come in a Forest shirt. I hope if we have to sell them, we sell them for every penny of what their worth and not a penny less. I don't think there's anything that controversial about that and surely this is why all Forest fans should be disappointed about the way the Brereton saga ended regardless of the timing.
I want to see players with the right qualities be the ones that the club and manager invest in. Not only financially but also with their selection. Much has been made about the great attitude of the three new Portugeezers and I hope it's all true. There's no doubt they are being weighed down by expectations currently but if they work as hard as advertised and keep their talent and confidence intact, they will survive the test and prove huge assets to the club. Equally I would always try and pick committed players like Osborn, Cash and Lolley who also have the qualities you need to be successful and have already proved their worth in the first few games of the season. I do have misgivings about whether the Karanka philosophy is quite as clear cut and surgically precise as advertised though. Whilst Brereton does not 'look the part' I think there might well have been something there worth trying to figure out rather than discard out of hand. Whilst apparently obvious failings elsewhere seem to be overlooked, excused and cosmetically enhanced, Ben got sidelined completely. At the very least I would have preferred a heart-to-heart, loan and a re-evaluation in January. I think that would have been better for all concerned. Maybe exactly that happened. Maybe he didn't want that and this is the best outcome? I can easily imagine he's a bit of a cocky teenager who's a little bit 'up his arse'. He has no doubt had his nose put out of joint by this episode, is angry and frustrated at the moment. It wouldn't be hard to imagine this from any young striker really would it? It goes with the territory. It's the type of reaction you'd want if he was told to fight for his place, but if there's no opportunity to do that and you're told you're not going to have any prospect of playing then what option have you left?
Let's give Karanka benefit of the doubt, as I'd certainly prefer to trust him and believe he's doing what is best for Forest, however it might look. I just want him to convince me that's the case by handling other youngsters like Gomis and Apaiah well. Make sure their careers can be viewed as nothing but overwhelming successes for Forest one way or another, and that Brereton also looks like smart business in retrospect too.
Maybe Brereton didn't fit the bill for whatever reason it might be. Football or other reasons, maybe he was just a pawn in a grand plan and a piece just just didn't fit. I do feel a little uncomfortable though simply because I think whether it had to be done or not, it could have been done better. I also think there are one or two gaping flaws with the culture Karanka is championing. I fully support a demanding regime and high standards but they have to apply uniformly or you risk alienating the entire squad. The axe has been wielded to the dead wood and a few unwanted limbs from the old guard whose services were no longer wanted. I do feel there are still a few chronically septic wounds that have been allowed to fester whilst the antiseptic removal of Brereton could prove to be a stab in the heart of squad moral. A lot of the trust and understanding in what Karanka is doing might have been undermined if they don't really fully understand the logic behind his treatment - this might prove to be the most damaging aspect of his departure in the long run, especially during this difficult start to the season. The fact is he wasn't going to get picked much if at all. His departure is therefore pretty academic. If there is an issue it's either an accounting issue or a concern about Karanka's selection policy and its affect on morale. Something had to be done though. Not worth getting excited one way or another about a player who was not going to be on the pitch whether or not he was at the club.