Nottingham Forest’s final day collapse was spectacular but the signs had been there for a while that all was not well. What now for Sabri Lamouchi?
Nottingham Forest, then. Hoo boy.
If it’s a choke you want – capitulation, collapse, surrender, take your pick – then look no further than Nottingham Forest. They required a single point from the last two games of the season to secure a spot in the play-offs, games that were against Barnsley and Stoke (in 24th and 17th place respectively), and even if they couldn’t manage that they just had to avoid a five-goal swing on the final day to remain in the top six.
But they couldn’t even do that. On the Totally Football League Show this week, Matt Davies-Adams blinked back the salty tears to discuss what on earth went wrong.
He said: “The capitulation against Stoke nicely summed up how the two-time European champions had been playing since the restart. Well-placed to have a proper go at the turn of the year, absolutely dreadful recruitment in January, over reliance on Lewis Grabban, and this is what happens.”
Blame should be spread around on these occasions, so as well as the recruitment in the winter transfer window, the manager must take some of the ire, said Adrian Clarke.
“Sabri Lamouchi deserves a bit of stick here for the way he treated the Barnsley game. The changes he made – I know some of the players weren’t 100% – but he changed the system and left some star men on the bench.
“Tactically I think they were a bit of a one-trick pony this season. Good organisation, for the most part, but I think they needed a gear change. They needed something else for when teams sussed them out, and teams were sussing them out towards the end of the campaign.”
Sam Parkin agreed: “Go back three or four months and we bemoaned his changes against Charlton, after the Leeds victory – he’s underestimated games against teams in the bottom half of the table. He’s lost 12 games this season, nine against teams in the bottom half.
“They’ve only scored 58 goals, which is only one more than Hull City, who are bottom. The over reliance on Lewis Grabban and Joe Lolley has come back to bite them.
“But let’s not kid ourselves that this all happened last night: the malaise started well before lockdown. I think after that Leeds game they took six points from 18, and they’ve taken three from a possible 18 in recent weeks.”
So what now? Should Lamouchi stay? The tentative answer seems to be ‘yes’, but not with any great conviction, and also in the knowledge that he’s quite quite a job on to recover from a collapse so spectacular.
“How on earth do they get their heads around [the collapse] and make a positive start to next season, as Leeds did?” asked Sam Parkin. “He’s shown enough to stick with him, but he has to take some stick today.”
Adrian Clarke added: “This is embarrassing for the players, and it’s going to be really hard for them to come back I think, especially with the short turnaround. Lamouchi was devastated at the end, but he hasn’t got long to lift the players for the new season.
“He’s signed a new contract so I assume he’s there for the duration: he’s got to pick himself up quickly and rouse the players to go again. It’s going to be a real challenge.”
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