Let’s give credit where it’s due here and say that Nottingham Forest were quite simply excellent in their 3-0 thrashing of Barnsley on Tuesday evening and but for a nasty looking injury to debutant Juan Fuentes, it would have been considered a perfect evening for the Reds.
In the aftermath of the contest Matty Cash and Lee Tomlin have drawn vast praise and rightly so given their all-action displays, but I’m going to stick my tin hat firmly to my head and choose to laud superlatives onto another Forest performer instead.
When Aitor Karanka first arrived at the City Ground, defensive midfielder Liam Bridcutt barely got a look in but Tuesday night offered a firm indication that the former Leeds man should be a player to build a side around during next season.
Early in the first-half, the Forest number seven threw himself into three thunderous challenges much to the delight of the Reds’ faithful and as I said to my mate on the night those sorts of things go a long way as far as supporters are concerned.
The Trent End erupted when Bridcutt threw every inch of his 5’9” frame into a ferocious challenge at one point and after struggling to win over some of the Forest faithful during the early stages of his City Ground career, I think some of those critics are being left with egg firmly on their clueless faces.
After playing 69 minutes of Forest’s 2-0 win over champions Wolves back in January, Bridcutt went through a frustrating period of 13 games where he failed to play a single minute of football and the robust player is clearly keen to ensure that he doesn’t play such a peripheral part during next season.
Jack Colback was signed on loan from Newcastle United in January and although he has been solid enough during his temporary spell I personally think that signing him on a more permanent basis would represent a waste of money given that the club already has a player on their books who is more than capable of deputising.
What I like about Bridcutt is that he leads by example. He’s the sort of player that you would want with you in the trenches and all season I have waxed lyrical about how Forest need to ensure that more leaders are added to the team.
The whole ‘Bridcutt doesn’t do a great deal’ sentiment which does the rounds on Twitter and other forms of social media is getting pretty boring now for me, and I can only presume that anyone who continues to criticise the 28-year-old either doesn’t attend games regularly or doesn’t understand modern day football in the slightest bit.
Bridcutt isn’t on the pitch to take on five men at a time and ping regular shots into the corner of the net – how many times did Roy Keane do that, or Claude Makélélé for that matter? Of course, I am not comparing Bridcutt to either of those legends, but those who appreciate the Forest player’s quality will understand where I am coming from with that kind of comparison.
He is there to keep things ticking along. Pass the ball to those who can be more offensively effective when he gets on the ball and break up play when the opposition have possession. It really isn’t that hard to grasp for all you unstudied critics out there.
I can’t finish this piece without saying a few words regarding Spanish left-back Fuentes who has waited patiently for a chance to impress since arriving on a short-term deal back in February.
The 28-year-old put in a pretty solid performance in his familiar defensive role during the first 45 minutes but saw his evening, and his season, curtailed after coming off worse following a strong challenge by Tykes’ right-back Dmitri Cavaré.
For what it’s worth, I think it was a strong but fair challenge from the Barnsley man but nonetheless it could well be the last time Forest fans see Fuentes at the City Ground given that his short-term deal expires in the summer.
The early signs suggest a serious knee ligament injury for the ex-Córdoba man and I for one wish him a speedy recovery.