The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Nottingham Forest, and Philippe Montanier in particular.
Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Bristol City was the seventh without a win in all competitions for the Reds, and you just can’t see them turning it around any time soon. Yet the manager still sees fit to rotate the squad on a weekly basis and tinker with formations at will.
If you’ve read my blogs since the beginning of the season, you will have come across this quote more than once: “I’m still not sure about this guy.”
Judging by the reactions of a large number of Forest supporters, I’d say that they’re now in agreement. The most worrying part of this whole episode is the reaction of the players themselves.
It is clear to see that they have little faith in their leader; something that caught my attention when Stuart Pearce was in charge.
You may be scratching your head at this point and asking where I’ve plucked this assumption from? The answer is in the body language of the players; at the home games it’s easy to spot the bemusing glances towards the bench, especially when the substitutions are being made.
Personally, I’d have taken a point at Ashton Gate before kick off, and at half-time it looked like a nailed on win. For me it was the best 45 minutes of the season to date, but let’s be honest, nobody in their right mind expected us to build on it.
Our deserved lead came courtesy of Apostolos Vellios’s fourth goal of the season, after good build up play from Ben Osborn and Henri Lansbury. Had Eric Lichaj’s effort deflected the right side of the crossbar, maybe we’d have gone on and taken all three points.
Bristol City have had a decent start to the Championship campaign and made some good signings too. When I got confirmation that Jamie Paterson was starting the game I just knew that he’d make an impact.
He linked up well with on loan Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham; a goal each from the pair would be the telling difference come the full time whistle.
In Lee Johnson, Bristol City have an excellent young manager who despite his tender years is leaving the likes of Montanier and Roberto Di Matteo in his wake, the latter having just been sacked by Aston Villa of course.
Johnson was quick to address his side’s failings at half time and made telling changes - his team became a lot more direct in the second period but it certainly did the trick.
Tactics of course had nothing to do with Bristol’s equaliser, Lansbury’s woeful back pass was gratefully accepted by Abraham and dispatched with ease.
I’m not going to lay into Lansbury for this at all, it is a one off and I’ve done it myself.
As the away side capitulated in that second-half, Paterson began to see more of the ball. The former Forest player looked very lively and fully deserved his winning goal after an exchange of passes in the penalty area with Abraham.
I was pleased for Paterson because all he ever wanted was a chance to prove himself at the City Ground. We’ve all seen what he’s capable of when he’s given a run of games and I’m sure he’ll feature prominently at Ashton Gate this season.
Montanier now has a chance to take stock during the International break; he must use it wisely though. It is the perfect opportunity to enlist the help of his coaches and more importantly, his players too.
As supporters we all have a rough idea of our preferred starting eleven, I’m pretty sure that the players themselves have theirs also.
I would like to think that one or two of the squad will be able to voice their opinions to the coach during the break, it would do no harm at all.
Whether this will happen or not is pie in the sky, but if the Frenchman continues to apply the same methods when we return to action I’m certain that he will not be here come the next international week.