‘Being captain of Nottingham Forest is helping Michael Mancienne to thrive’ – Garry Birtles


When Michael Mancienne was coming through the ranks at Chelsea, people were talking about him as being the next big thing; as a potential England star of the future.

During loan spells with QPR and Wolves, he cut his teeth in the Championship and in the Premier League, as well as getting the odd brief taste of first-team action at Stamford Bridge.

Mancienne played regularly at every England age group from under-16 right through to the under-21 side – and gained a call-up to the senior squad in November 2008, for a friendly against Germany.

He was not the first – and certainly won’t be the last – player to go through a similar experience at Chelsea; to be heralded as the next big thing and have huge amounts of expectation piled on his shoulders.

It must be a lot to live up to, when people talk about what you are going to achieve, before you have barely kicked a ball for your club, never mind your country.

Nate Chalobah has gone through a similar experience at Chelsea in more recent times and, like Mancienne, took the bold decision to leave the London club in search of more regular football, with a move to Watford. Injury has curtailed his progress since.

Nottingham Forest’s Michael Mancienne puts his hand up

But, where Mancienne is concerned, following a spell in Hamburg where he enhanced his reputation further but also found himself in and out of the side a little, you get the sense that, finally, he has found somewhere he can call home.

And that is not something to be underestimated.

As we have said previously in this column, places in the side are not handed out on a whim – they are earned.

And the same applies to the captaincy.

I was lucky enough to play under some superb men at Nottingham Forest , when it came to people who had the armband.

Being captain of Nottingham Forest is a huge, huge honour.

And Warburton will not have handed Mancienne that responsibility lightly.

But for me, it is something that has helped the defender to thrive.

Mark Warburton

He has spent most of his career trying to live up to a level of expectation; to reach the lofty heights that people expected of him, when he was a young man.

Now, at the age of 29, he is at a club where he is valued, trusted and feels very much at home.

From what you hear, he is a man who still has huge ambitions, who wants to establish himself as a Premier League player.

But the telling thing is that he wants to do it for Nottingham Forest, not because that is what has always been expected of him.

In the first half of his career, his aim was perhaps to prove himself as an individual – to live up to personal expectation.

Now he has a different motivation.

He has found a club where he feels at home; where he feels part of a team – and he wants to achieve success for the Reds, as well as for himself.

He has always been a player with talent and potential. But, from the outside looking in, you get the impression that, after more than three years with Forest, he is a character who is benefitting hugely from simply finding some stability late in his career.

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