What an acquisition Simon Gillett is turning out to be. Our moneybags owners have spent in the region of £6 million over the summer, but in my opinion, our best signing to date has cost absolutely nothing.
Released by relegated Doncaster at the end of the season, most fans wouldn’t of thought twice about trailing free players after the dramatic takeover. The shrewdness of Sean O’Driscoll has really shone through here. Playing in that little hole between the defence and midfield, Gillett has been a mainstay in the side, and for me, one of the first names on the team sheet.
Every team needs that little terrier snapping round your ankles breaking up dangerous moves and attacks. Look at all the world class teams past and present that had these types of player, Claude Makelele, Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso to name just three. More so at our level, we have in my opinion missed that kind of influence on a game that Paul Mckenna had during the Billy Davies era. There was a reason we were so successful for a number of years and arguably over-achieved, you have to remember it was almost the same squad that Steve Cotterill just managed to keep in the league last season.
Paul Mckenna’s influence on the side almost mirrors our new and improved version, Simon Gillett. Breaking up moves and making the game look all so easy, bringing others into play and letting them be the creative forces in the team, the difference that I can see so far is that Gillett boasts better ability. It was maybe a shame that Mckenna was coming towards the end of his career when at Forest, and I understand that I can only properly judge him on his time here, but this feels like we’ve part exchanged an old Audi TT for a brand new Audi R8, a most certain upgrade. Maybe this speaks just as highly for Sean O’Driscoll, bringing the 26 year-old in for free and then giving him one specific role and seeing it pay off brilliantly. Gillett has more legs, he passes forward not sideways, to me he looks more feisty in the meaty challenges, has a range of passing and clearly has a real winning character, you just watch the next time him or the team lose the ball.
Gillett’s position in the team is quiet but very effective. He allows the team to go and create chances, and have that attacking mentality going forward knowing that if things do go wrong, our Number 4 is there to guard against counter attacks etc. For me Sean O’Driscoll has got the balance of the midfield just perfect, leaving Gillett to break up the moves and let the three in front of him take care of their own specific roles. Andy Reid can cross, score and create, Chris Cohen can do the same but with that ideal defensive mindset about his work, then you’ve got three out of McGugan, Lansbury and Guedioura, all flair players with a goal in them.
The team is really starting to come together, unbeaten in four now, we’re looking good for a solid season, and Gillett is the glue we need to hold us together both defensively and going forward. At 26 we may not have seen the best of him, but then again, he’s that effective in the role he plays he hardly even gets noticed with fans being so fickle these days preferring to highlight the pace of which a player can get round someone for example. A certain Nathan Tyson falls into that bracket, a ‘fans favourite’ for simply being fast with little end product. Hopefully fans can see that having the little man there in that hole every game we are allowing to get the best out of our other midfielders, after-all it is no coincidence the likes of Reid, McGugan and now Cohen, have made marvellous starts to this campaign.