Nottingham Forest blog: Improvement in cutting edge is there for all to see
One of the more eye-catching aspects of Forest’s upturn in fortunes since the arrival of Dougie Freedman is the increase in the ‘goals for’ column on the league table.
Freedman has overseen eight games in charge of the Reds and in that period his side have hit the back of the net on no fewer than 22 occasions.
The former Crystal Palace and Bolton Wanderers boss is yet to see his side fire a blank and they have impressively racked up six wins, one draw and a solitary defeat away at Charlton.
Even in the game against basement club Blackpool where Forest dropped two points they smashed in four goals in an entertaining 4-4 draw, and on a shocker of a pitch at that too.
The amount of goals amassed is all the more remarkable considering top scorer Britt Assombalonga suffered a serious knee injury in Freedman’s second game in charge against Wigan at the City Ground.
Since then the task of scoring goals has been undertaken by several players, most notably Henri Lansbury who has scored six goals since the arrival of Freedman.
It was fantastic to see Dexter Blackstock net the winner in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough and his celebration that followed showed just how much he still cares about being a Nottingham Forest player.
I have a lot of time for Blackstock, and actually credit him for keeping the club in the Championship during the 2008-09 campaign when he scored a stoppage time winner against Bristol City. I still say that had we not won that game the club would have been relegated straight back to League One.
I have also said on these pages in the past that it is vital we have players at the club who appreciate what playing for Forest is all about. Blackstock clearly shows just that every time he pulls on a red shirt and his work rate on Saturday was incredible. Is he still running around the City Ground pitch now?
Another positive to come out of the victory on Saturday was the performance of right-back Eric Lichaj.
Now the American full back is a little bit like Marmite with the Forest faithful. They either love him, or they hate him but at present it is impossible not to love his form.
In the last three home games Lichaj’s displays on the pitch have been whole hearted to say the least and even in the 95th minute on Saturday he was popping up in his own box to clear away the kitchen sink that was being thrown at us by the Boro forwards.
Whilst Blackstock was the official Man of the Match I wouldn’t have been at all surprised had Lichaj’s name popped up on the screen instead.
On a slightly different subject and I will probably upset his ever-growing fan club here but I feel winger Jamie Paterson could do with a loan spell away from the club for the last 10 games of the season.
Paterson was forced to play last season due to mounting injury problems and, in fairness he was very good for the team.
The fact is however we now have much better, more experienced options fit and ready to play in the first team and Dougie clearly knows, as I do, that he isn’t quite up to scratch for the first team.
The former Walsall man was an unused sub on Saturday and in Tuesday’s defeat at Charlton and was hooked at half time as the Reds thumped Reading over a week ago. The fact that Forest won 3-0 and scored all three goals after Paterson had departed the action just says it all really.
I rate Paterson but he is still raw and has played very little football at Championship level. He is certainly one for the future and a loan spell would be good for all parties.
I can’t finish my article this week without a mention for the Championship’s Player of the Month, Henri Lansbury.
I have said for a while that Lansbury played in his proper position is the best player in the league bar none and his performances of late have started to add some credibility to such a statement.
The Arsenal academy graduate is destined for the Premier League one way or another and I just hope that he sticks around the City Ground long enough to assist Forest’s quest for top-flight football.
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