OPINION: Chris Hughton can go into international break satisfied with early work at Nottingham Forest
After failing to chalk up a win at the fourth time of asking in the league this season, Sabri Lamouchi was relieved of his duties.
It had been coming since his side somehow contrived to tumble out of the play-offs at the tail end of last season, despite having an eye on automatic promotion prior to the cessation of football in March. It was – once again – time for a new manager at the City Ground.
We’ve all been there. The new boss strides into work and you are summoned for a meeting. You are on your best behaviour. Better look busy. You tie your laces, pull up your socks and tidy your desk.
You try to avoid being seen fraternising with the ne’er-do-wells, despite actually continuing to do exactly that. But in deference to the new world order, you at least do so in a more discrete manner now. You resolve to do better.
And they did. The highly respected Chris Hughton entered the building and promptly chalked up a deserved win at Blackburn Rovers, thanks to a late goal from Joe Lolley. A pair of home draws followed, and October ended with the rather uneventful defeat at Middlesbrough.
November brought happier times for the Reds. Against Coventry City at the City Ground, Forest did something they hadn’t managed to do since June: go in for half-time oranges at the City Ground with a lead.
The theory went that should the Reds manage to get their noses in front, things might click into place. When Scott McKenna lashed his team into the lead in the 30th minute, surely this would precipitate a different Forest, a more confident Forest.
But it wasn’t to be. Hughton’s men failed to maintain their momentum and in truth, the second half performance deteriorated to the extent that it was like watching a drunken uncle nod off in his chair, snoring and drooling down his cardigan.
And then something rather odd happened. Lyle Taylor scampered clear on goal in the 96th minute. He was shoved over and a penalty was awarded. In the blink of an eye, everything changed. He dusted himself down and casually slotted home from the spot with the very last kick of the game.
Three days later against Wycombe Wanderers, Taylor picked up where he left off by bagging a brace and ensuring Forest took six points in the space of four days.
Let’s be honest, we at Nottingham Forest have been here before. Sacking one manager and replacing him with another his hardly new territory. We know the drill.
Two successive wins – although highly satisfying – is no reason to hang the bunting or book the open-top bus. However, Forest now look resolute at the back and in Taylor, possess a legitimate goal threat.
With only one defeat to his name since taking the helm, Chris Hughton can go into the international break a satisfied man. It is to be hoped the break allows him a chance to breathe amidst a rigorous schedule.