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From My Seat

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


Looking back and looking forward...

Last season was a significant one for me. My first full one as a season card holder which gave me a completely different perspective. Not only personally but the opportunity to interact with so many fellow Forest supporters and actually get a real feel for what was going on throughout the season as it unfolded. To be honest, in some ways, I prefer having things more at arms length. The anxiety and stress around the club is tangible and quite uncomfortable at times. I am going to try and review the season in three blog posts. One reviewing the players (including some of the summer comings and goings), another trying to evaluate where we stand and finally, the most ambitious, to try and explain what has been wrong at the club for the last twenty plus years and what might help finally turn things round. I know it's a fool's errand but I almost feel the need to do it for cathartic reasons. To get it off my chest and have it as a record to look back on for years to come as your perspective often changes and it's hard to recall just 'where your head was' at specific points in time. I'm actually so flabbergasted by some recent events that I am not sure I'll do the final part. Some of the stuff that has transpired in the last few weeks have gone so far beyond the limits I thought might actually exist I do wonder if I have any real comprehension of the issues that exist, or at least the scale of them maybe more accurately. Luckily time is a great healer! So let's start with the easiest one to get the ball rolling! The players, in simple school report format.

Pantilimon - 8/10
Pants had a challenging start to the season. For me the first goal he conceded at Bristol though was one of his few real errors over the season. Unfortunately that game was an unusually shaky one for Michael Dawson and Figueiredo too and seemed to create more doubt about the team than was really necessary. The defence was then chopped and changed, in part due to injuries and suspensions around the Xmas period, and Pants never quite looked comfortable with what was in front of him throughout this. When the injury crisis cleared up in the second half of the season though he looked more and more assured even though he might not have had the same quality of team mates, things had become more settled. His performances looked more and more assured. Occasionally there were questions about his ability to get down to low driven shots but really this is just a fact of nature you have to accept with a giant keeper. Their agility will always be impaired but equally we didn't concede many goals from long shots either. His stats made him the top keeper in the league in the final analysis. He also produced a phenomenal final performance at QPR. He still has his critics but really he's far from being a weakness that needed to be addressed in the transfer market. Therefore the signing of Muric was somewhat baffling as, no doubt containing assurances about performances and associated fines possibly, it undermines the genuine competition for a place it might otherwise create. Is only a season long fix it it goes well anyway and if it goes badly you have to pick a young player with problems and a disgruntled senior one costing a lot of money to just watch from the bench. High risk, low reward strategy that makes little sense to me.

Steele - 7/10
Steele is a good professional. He got few chances and impressed when he did in the early part of the season. Whilst Pants had a few wobbles his stock raised further and there were calls for him to be given selected as first choice. He did get a couple of chances but these didn't prove to wholly justify his inflated reputation, especially the night in Sheffield. He remains a decent keeper and excellent backup option though. It does seem however he's being shown the door.

Smith - NA
I have a lot of time for Smithy. He's a phenomenal shot stopper but no doubt has to mature to bring the rest of his game up to the same standard. He suffered a nightmare in the League Cup against Bury, partly of his own making, partly just misfortune. He then spent most of the season with Mansfield and earned some rave reviews. Forest need to decide this season whether he has a long term future at the club or not. Personally I think he is worth persevering with and maybe another season out on loan will confirm his potential and at least justify him being trusted as our second choice at least. 

Darikwa - 6/10
Local lad who without doubt takes great pride in pulling on the jersey. Had some absolutely outstanding performances in the first half of the season. However his struggle with consistency, especially around the time of Karanka's departure and his sending off at Millwall, meant long periods outside the team and even squad and he never really recaptured the same form, in fact having a couple of dodgy games in the process. I feel as if he has the ability but cares too much to produce his best when things start to go wrong. His strong links with the club make him desperate to stay but has been told he's down the pecking order and being offered attractive exit options. He's a player I feel has been mismanaged and at the very least would make a superb understudy and offer great attacking options to the club. His only crime has maybe been caring too much about the club, theirs not caring enough about him maybe.

Byram - 7/10
Excellent pro whose arrival on loan looked likely to be a massive boost to our promotion prospects, especially with his attacking ability. Unfortunately suffered an almost season long injury after only a few promising games for us. Luckily managed to return just before the end of the season and again remind us of what a great player he is. The type of signing we need to make us serious promotion prospects - it was a shame we didn't move to sign him earlier. Once Norwich came in with Premier League football and a long contract we were out of the equation. A bargain missed.

Benalouane - 7/10
Great character to have in the dressing room. Peerless in the air but prone to over-committing with tackles. I have a little bit of a concern about his relaxed positional play at times but I think he feels confident, maybe a bit too much so? His Derby-beating goal has made him a club legend and will help Forest with our perennial problem with arial bombardments too. Although he's injured he looks a little marginalised and must wonder if he is in the new manager's plans or not.

Dawson - 7/10
Written off by many by virtue of his age combined with one somewhat bizarre bit of bad luck with injuries that ruled him out of most of the campaign. The fact is however we never lost when he was on the pitch and remains arguably the best centre half on our books on his day. Even if he's not able to complete a full season as first choice he will teach those around him a great deal and we should be hoping to see a lot more of him next season as success will follow having him on the pitch. He's shaken off some rust already in preseason and shown he still has some of his best qualities to offer the team.

Hefele - 6/10
Controversial figure who was a weird signing. The way he was signed late, with a significant fanfare, thrown into the team, jettisoned and then seriously injured don't make it a season he will look back on with much fondness. I feel he was partly a victim of circumstances and might have enjoyed far more success if he had been introduced in a far more circumspect manner. His arrival created a degree of uncertainty that he then had to deal with. No doubt some good performances but equally a few horror shows amongst them too. I feel as if he might ultimately be the one who misses out amongst the huge collection of centre halves we've ended up with after last season's injury crisis. Recently he has been publicly reported as one of the players who have been told to find new clubs. It looks as if his brief stay might have been a mistake for all involved, but it shouldn't reflect badly on him.

Wague - 6/10
Managed to become a regular towards the end of the season a little surprisingly I think. Scored some goals and was generally fairly solid although prone to occasional lapses of concentration that sometimes proved expensive. Given the squad we have I cannot see any need to have him back, which made his regular selection at the tail end of the season strange. Seemed to be a negative option given it surely didn't help in any way for the season ahead.

Figueiredo - 7/10
Arguably our finest centre half and the player we need to build the defence around for years to come. He had a very disappointing season - initially having trouble being selected and the odd error we have never seen from him previously. Then when he seemed to be returning to his best he suffered a terrible sending off decision at Villa that cost us probably more than any other event the entire season. Not only the two points on the night and the following absence but then the almost immediate freak injury that followed meaning his missed the rest of the season too. The only good thing is he should return fit, rested and hungry next season.

Milosevic - 7/10
Signed amongst the injury crisis he has proved to be anything but a bargain basement impulse purchase. Solid, technically sound and resolute - he might not be a first choice but if not he would be an excellent quality backup if needed. His quality rather than lack of it creates a dilemma with so many centre halves on the books. He's earned the right to be part of the mix. The fans like him more and more when they see him play. 

Robinson - 8/10
Without doubt one of our best signings. Heart of a lion although he sometimes needs to show a little more calmness in the heat of battle. Very capable at centre half but produced some of the best performances at left back since Psycho's days, he was outstanding at Leeds. Weird selections disrupted the second half of the season. His name should be first down as left back - we can relax and know we have someone more than capable of doing the job there. With the possibility of us playing with three at the back sometimes though his role might change and his flexibility prove an asset in the season ahead.

Janko - 6/10
Frustrating season on loan for him I feel. Played pretty well a few times, then Darikwa played out of his skin leaving him on the sidelines. Then asked to play left back, again he performed pretty well. We might well look back on his time and wish we'd given him more chance to prove himself and extend his stay.

Yacob - 7/10
Wasn't really sure why we signed him but he went on to prove himself and show the qualities you always hated when your team was playing against him. For me the midfield was a simple question of perming any two from three - with him switching with Adlene when we needed to park the bus. It seemed to work perfectly. Stepped in and did a decent job at centre half when we were down to the bare bones and that possibly ultimately undermined him getting picked in midfield during the second half of the season. A big asset when used properly, but he has found himself again having to win over another manager who hasn't shown an immediate appreciation of his qualities.

Osborn - 7/10
A funny season for the ever reliable Benny. Again, it's becoming a theme! He suffered from his versatility and spent much of the season as a stand-in left back. Despite his size he put in a few superb performances and gave the impression he might be more of a game changer as a defender rather than attacker ultimately. Finally missed some games which must feel like a step backwards to him. For me he has huge value as a flexible member of a far smaller squad. Our bloated squad and lack of clarity at the moment might make him think his future lies elsewhere. It would be a shame as I think he still has a lot to offer even if he's not god an obvious role within the team on paper. In a long season he's the type of player you appreciate most when you need him. With only a year left on his contract though he either needs to agree a new deal or be moved on, albeit with a heavy heart and some trepidation. 

Colback - 9/10
Colback had arguably the best season of his career. I've always admired his style and he was a pleasure to watch all season. Every game he delivered. Dictating the tempo and holding everything together. Again being asked to play slightly out of position in midfield and bizarrely at left back in the end were the only aspects that hindered his sublime progress through the season. It looks as if Forest have somewhat bizarrely decided to ignore the option of getting him back for good. You couldn't have had a better or longer audition, not doing everything you can to secure his services will be a grave mistake.

Dias - 5/10
The most potent of the three Portuguese signings, he looked set to play a major role last season but nothing could be further from the truth. In warm ups he looked as sharp as a razor but in games the ball just never quite fell for him and he had few moments to remember. Worse still his totally inept cameo in the closing stages of the Norwich debacle are what will represent our lasting memories of a talented player who just didn't adapt to the English game.

Goncalves - 4/10
Had a hugely disappointing first season in England. Undoubtedly talented but failed to settle and adapt to the game, then harshly sent off in the first game he appeared to have shown some sort of progress. After that he was hardly ever seen again, ultimately only starting the first game of the season with his two fellow Portuguese. Something few would have imagined at the start of the campaign. He will probably go on to be hugely successful elsewhere, but this season was too much for him at this stage of his career.

Carvalho - 8/10
The one success amongst the three big Portuguese signings but I still think the season as a whole has be looked at as barely more than an introduction. Whilst he played regularly and contributed during the first half of the season under Karanka there was clearly a lot more to come. The effort wasn't lacking but his radar was definitely off. Whilst his exclusion from the team so long by O'Neill was ultimately a case of self-harm, fatally undermining our playoff hopes, it might have served to help him focus on the intensity he needed to show to really achieve his potential. His performance against Boro was amongst the best seen for years and showed why we have to trust him and demand far more from him as his potential is huge. He, like many, will only thrive in the right team structure and culture - hopefully next season we will see even more from him as soon as he's fit again.

Guedioura - 7/10
I love the way Adlene plays the game. He is creative and always a threat. Some of his performances at the start of the season, like the one against WBA, were him at his very best. For me he did very little wrong and his partnership with Colback was hugely effective, however he spent several spells outside the team and never really had the run he needed to get back to his very best. His future is unclear but I hope that he is given the chance to show what he can do next season. His heart is with Forest and there would be nothing better than him to be able to enjoy a successful swan song to his career with us. His success at AFCON show he lacks nothing when he is played, too often people seem to lack the trust in his undoubted ability and value to the team. The stories told about him were as misplaced as they were scandalous.

Yates - 7/10
After so long on the fringe of the first team he finally got his chance and grabbed it with both hands when offered it by O'Neill. After his initial impact I did feel too much was asked of him and he was given too long of a run in the team and not in his best position. I hope he is nurtured along with the likes of Appiah and Worrall to maximise his potential. These players need to be trusted in a smaller squad where more is spent on a few star signings and supplemented by talented youth players when necessary. He has proved he is capable of doing more than should be expected of him but we must not ask too much of him too soon.

Pele - 6/10
Only came to The City Ground as a makeweight in the Dias loan triangle but made a positive impression on the whole during his stay. A great debut was followed by a bit of a mauling on a bad night against Villa at home but he showed in subsequent games that he was a decent player. Not short of options there so a signing is unlikely but he certainly made a decent impression whilst here.

Watson - 5/10
He helped steady the ship when signed the previous season but this term has only proved to me that we have progressed beyond the point where his inclusion is an asset. Both Karanka and O'Neill turned to him initially but in both cases seemed to conclude he wasn't offering enough to warrant a place compared to others. In the case of O'Neill it was particularly disappointing he overlooked far more attacking options and surrendered any playoff hopes whilst picking him. Once again history is repeating itself and he appears to being selected as captain based on his off field qualities. He has played OK, but this is a road that won't lead us where we are supposed to be going. Hopefully Sabri realises it before too long too.

Cash - 7/10
Cash has progressed again this season but has seemed to have lost all his defensive skills along the way. Previously considered as an option at right back his talents now definitely lie nearer their goal than ours. Frustrating that he often fails with the final ball after doing all the hard work. He needs to mature and pace himself better. Always seems most effective off the bench and is probably best used for the last 30 in this role at present. Snatches at good chances too often too. Bizarrely Lamouchi seems to think otherwise? It might be his defensive skills can be honed but it's not a natural fit based on last seasons evidence.

Lolley - 9/10
A hell of a lot was put on the shoulders of Joe. He started the season not being certain of his place but ended it as our primary attacking threat and one of the most dangerous players in the league. He scored some remarkable goals and would probably have done even better if the team didn't rely on him quite so much. Wingers are always a bit inconsistent, and Joe did have a couple of runs of poor form, but when he was hot, he was on fire and that accounted for much of the season. If we can rely a little less upon him alone I think we will be able to get even more from him.

Soudani - 7/10
It was a season of what might have been for Soudani. He won us five points with a couple of goals scored in precious little time on the pitch and, for me, was the biggest miss of the season. We were crying out for that extra inspiration and experience I think he would have offered us. A fully fit Soudani next season could have proved more of an asset than any signing we can afford to make, however, sadly, we will now never know and his move did probably make sense for all concerned in the cold light of day.

Grabban - 8/10
Grabbs is a seasoned performer at this level and once again proved he has what it takes. He arrived totally out of match fitness and lacking confidence but, penalties aside, hit his stride for the first half of the season and looking well set for well over 20 goals. The second half of the season was blighted by niggling injuries, non-selection at times and generally being a bit part player unable to add too many more goals to his tally. Overall the season has to be considered a success but there's no doubt it could have been far better. As with the first half of the season he will do far better as part of an attacking team alongside players like Carvalho and Silva, hopefully we will see that next season.

Murphy - 7/10
I thought, nay hoped, we had seen the last of him after his dismal end to the previous season. However he put in a decent shift last season, producing some performances that I thought were beyond him. He remains something of an enigma - producing absolutely nothing one week and then being full of energy the next. His age and poor strike rate will mean he shouldn't be more than a bit part player now but he has it within him to more than fulfil that role which I previously thought was well beyond him. Lamouchi seems to have no use for him and it appears he will be moved on now, one way or another, arguably when he's looked more of an asset than for much of the last couple of years ironically.

Ansarifard - 7/10
Took quite a while before Karim was given any opportunity to prove what he could do. Many wrote him off before having seen anything more than cameos. When he was given a few games though he showed enough to suggest he might well have a future at the club. He has good movement and an eye for goal, somewhat surprisingly he moved out of the blue. Probably the result of some unexpected interest and a willingness from the club to let him go.

Appiah - 7/10
Hugely respected throughout the game, we finally got our first glimpses of Arvin in the first team this season. Very early days but first impressions are more that he has a good football brain in addition to the spectacular skills we have seen at other levels. This is probably a good thing, the skill is there but being smart is a bonus. You imagine we will learn a lot more next season and the signs are he will get more chances to show what he can do, especially in light of some of the other departures.

Looking back there were some remarkable individual performances and some team ones as well but in general there were was the same old issue with consistency and just too many games when the team just didn't 'turn up' for some reason, especially at home. On occasions there were huge off-the-field issues but on others no real rhyme or reason. WBA, Newcastle and Stoke in the Cup, Leeds and Boro at home and Leeds and Derby away were all memorable. Villa and Norwich away even more so but for very different reasons. Overall it was a funny season. Guedioura (WBA), Lolley (at Villa), Carvalho (Boro), Pantilimon (at QPR) and Robinson (at Leeds) produced some of the best individual performances of their careers along the way I feel too but overall it was a very frustrating season as so many seem to ultimately prove.

Over the summer Forest have been patient (possibly treading water prior to the manager switch) and only made relatively modest, kid astute, additions. Again some of them have been incredibly hyped - Silva, Semedo and Muric in particular. Early signs are these, and others, are all technically very sound as you would expect. Whether or not they have the maturity to succeed in The Championship though is an entirely different matter. I'll reserve judgement until the window closes but I think I'll be a lot happier if the final couple of pieces of the puzzle are more tried and tested than those we've already made. Lamouchi says he still wants a midfielder, right back and striker. Personally Darikwa competing with AN Other (probably the Algerian he bumped into at AFCON...) and Cash as an option is fine now that the obvious option of Byram has gone. Up front and in midfield however - someone as good as Grabban but with a different style (although Ameobi looks an interesting option) and Colback would complete a really good Summer and achieve the balance between experience and youth of top quality that we currently lack. Hopefully we are playing a clever game of poker with Jack, although really his signing should have been a simple game of Snap!


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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