1. Buy better players than you have. Much better ones, not possibly better. They have to be exceptional. The level where there’s no hesitation about picking them. They are your Crown Jewels. You protect them and turn to them when the crunch comes. The Antonios, Collymores, or Van Hoojdonks of this world. I’d rather have fewer players and give the kids a chance rather than load up with numbers. England should be picking Loftus-Cheek or Grealish (if he’s not being Irish) rather than waste time on Livermore or Wellbeck. If Southgate knows anything then surely it’s that these are not very good. Give someone else a chance. An unknown is better than a known known! Karanka has to try and do this too. I understand he needed to transform things in January and be seen to. He’s threatening to do the same again. For me however he has to be careful to not throw any babies out with the bath water. I see so much bile aimed at various centre halves but I honestly think we have a good collection, all of which can do a job. Look at Foxy. Probably the least rated player for the last couple of years - absolute monster at centre half at the end of the season. A total revelation. He didn’t just become a great player, the conditions were just right for him. He will be hard to drop - impossible playing the way he has been. It’s all about the right system, right combination and, well that brings me on to…
2. You need to get the right parts for your jigsaw. Everyone knows the best teams have the right blend of styles and personalities. In recent years Forest have been a mess. It was only towards the end of last season you could look at the team out there and feel it was ‘right’. Feel comfortable, sit back in your seat and enjoy the ride rather than expecting your airbag to deploy at any moment due to the car crash you could see coming miles off right in front of your eyes. Cloughie always stuck to that formula. Players each doing a simple job, all fitting together. Football is a simple game. We always try and botch left back, strikers are equally a bit ’sketchy’ and we seem too keen to play people all over the place for the fun of it. I can think of at least 4 players who have been ruined by being asked… actually 5, five of our best players too! As I was saying, ruined by being asked to play out of position. Have to do an article on that to get that off my chest when I have a chance too I think. So please Aitor. Get us proper players, specialists who can do what it says on the tin. I know it’s not easy but that is all that’s required. We have a collection of Allsorts we can use to fill in the gaps as the poor souls have been doing this for years already. Let’s get the spine dead right, make it strong and look plausible, then you can have a bit of fun with the rest. Signing Dawson is a good move. Even if he only plays 10-15 times each season when he’s needed. He will do a job, he knows it inside out.
3. Make sure they’re on the pitch. This is partly related to the first two points and partly relying on luck or judgement with injuries and also selection. Protect the players mentally and physically. My feeling is Forest haven’t made any use of their strong squad over the last few years. Wards and Montanier seemed determined to pick people out of form and position and ruin what they already had rather than find what was missing. Totally baffling. Pearce got it right in his early games in charge, we were flying, Warbs was similar to be fair but both had no idea what to do when plan A was worked out by more astute coaches than them - Phillipe I fear didn’t even have a viable A plan. I have to write an article specifically on this. There’s tons of material on this. I think the culture is all wrong, everything stems from that, but don’t get me started on that here. Main thing is Karanka seems to have got the basics right and know what he’s doing. I fear he might be a bit cautious. I’d prefer him to be a bit more flexible and creative with his selections. I think he is trying to create the right culture, just I’d like it to be a bit more adventurous than it looks as if it might be from what we’ve seen so far. But I reserve judgment on that for now.
I think Karanka can achieve as much with who he keeps as he possibly can with who he buys. He has a few obvious targets and a few obvious candidates to jettison. From the noises I have heard I fear he might take a haircut he regrets at his leisure - he seems to be making deep cuts into the heart of the team with his closed season surgery. I really am going to bite my tongue as hard as possible about the players I would desperately like to never have the pleasure of seeing in our new shirt as I don’t like to offer anything but constructive criticism to anyone in red. I think I’ll have to make a rule that I can post a few obscure tweets as markers I can later refer back to when the dust settles I think!
Although there seems to be some debate about the return of Michael Dawson for me he fits the bill perfectly. He’s an asset to the squad although I wouldn’t want to pick him every week and couldn’t drop the current pairing until they show any signs of complacency. We will get value out of Daws. He’s the right type, motivated, knowledgable and can play a bit too. A real asset for a year or two and a great help to other members of the squad. Another thing I think has not always been the case in recent years, but again let’s not get off topic.
It’s going to be an interesting summer. I’d love to see Pantilimon and Lee Tomlin back in one way or another. Colback I think we might not need as much although he’s obviously a good player. We have options there. Let’s review signings as they arrive - apparently another couple due very soon so I’d better get ready for it.