OPINION: Bridcutt signing shows the way Mark Warburton wants to go at Nottingham Forest
The signing of defensive midfielder Liam Bridcutt by Nottingham Forest provides a clue to Mark Warburton's preferred formation.
The Forest manager has flirted with at least three different line ups during his side’s start to the 2017/18 Championship season, my guess is that he will settle for the 4-2-3-1 in the end.
The former Brentford boss had implemented such a set up during the relegation battle last season, but was at odds to find the ideal partner in crime for David Vaughan.
So, having acquired the signature of Liam Bridcutt from Leeds United last week, I was enthused at the possibility of him and the veteran Welshman playing side by side in a red shirt.
Regardless of whether Bridcutt is a success or failure at the City Ground, we’ve snapped him up for next to nothing in today’s mad market.
One million for any footballer in the second tier of English football is a snip when you consider that Middlesbrough paid 15 times that amount for Britt Assombalonga.
At the age of 28, the former Leeds skipper has a few miles left in the tank and is the perfect foil for David Vaughan.
I watched Bridcutt a year or so ago as the solitary holding midfielder when Steve Evans was the gaffer at Elland Road, he was outstanding and made the side tick that day.
I’ve no doubts that when Vaughan is back from injury they’ll make an excellent pairing in front of the back four.
It remains to be seen whether the two holding midfielders are just temporary cover for the holes in the back four of late but my gut instinct is that they’ll be a permanent fixture.
Ironically, Liam Bridcutt’s Nottingham Forest debut came against his former club just days after the transfer.
The Yorkshire outfit took all three points and looked very well drilled last Saturday, they too applied the 4-2-3-1 formation on their visit Trent side. In stark contrast, Forest struggled to break into any kind of rhythm and will have to admit that it was a bad day at the office.
Bridcutt himself seemed to let the game pass him by but you have to remember that he was like a fish out of water given the timing of his move.
In hindsight, perhaps he would have been better off missing the game altogether? Regardless of his performance on Saturday, I’m confident that he will be a useful acquisition for the reds.
David Vaughan’s return to the side will hopefully have a knock on effect too; it will allow Andreas Bouchalakis to revert to a more attacking role in the bank of three that sit between the holders and the striker. Bouchalakis certainly proved that he has an attacking instinct away at Brentford but there will be competition for places in that creative trio.
I said a couple of weeks ago that it’s going to take some time for Mark Warburton to assemble his favoured personnel and accompanying formation, the recruitment of Liam Bridcutt is clear indication that he will push ahead with the 4-2-3-1 system.
Intelligently, his arrival provides the option to switch to a 4-1-4-1 should himself or Vaughan suffer an injury, who’d have thought that Warburton would have a plan B? (Certainly not Rangers supporters)
The lack lustre defeat and the insipid performance by Forest last Saturday were bizarrely overshadowed by a fracas in the stadium concourse. A video of two Forest fans fighting over a pie sent the internet into meltdown; they’d certainly lost that loving filling! (sorry)
It’s still early days but this latest signing does encourage me somewhat despite the fact that Bridcott’s debut didn’t end in glory. In my opinion, it’s a statement of intent by the reds boss and a solid foundation for what could be his formation of choice.