‘Nottingham Forest boss Mark Warburton doesn’t stick to the coaching manual – and that’s an admirable quality’ – Garry Birtles


Everyone will hope Nottingham Forest can put a run of results together after Saturday’s win over Burton Albion.

But if they don’t, it’s no reason to jump straight on the manager’s back again.

Sometimes it can feel like it is one step forwards and two steps back because Forest have been a bit inconsistent. But a lot of teams in the Championship can say the same thing; it’s that kind of league.

And there are some big clubs in an even worse position, struggling at the bottom end of the table.

Having a bit of stability at Forest is no bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with being where they are in the table at the moment. Making progress takes time; you just have to keep faith that they will keep moving forward in the coming weeks.

The problem in football in general nowadays is that managers don’t get time anymore.

Trigger fingers get very twitchy very quickly. Teams are desperate for success.

I’m not saying this is the case for Mark Warburton, but that kind of pressure can make managers do different things because they are so desperate to win matches. They’re not given a chance to do things as they would like, or as they would normally do.

That’s the anomaly of it all.

Reds boss Mark Warburton shares a word with Nigel Clough before kick-off against Burton

Forest have got to trust that if they keep doing the right things, they will start to get their rewards.

What I like about Mark is he’s not afraid to change things. He’s not afraid to adapt his formation, or make a substitution, early in a game if it’s not working.

Some managers seem to have a coaching manual which they are determined to stick to – how many times do we see substitutions made exactly on the hour, for instance?

Mark’s not like that, and I think that’s an admirable quality to have. It’s one that can serve him well.

Forest have done well at the City Ground this season, but struggled a bit on the road, so these next two games – against Hull City and Reading – will be a good test for them.

Sometimes it can take just one game to lift you out of that malaise and turn things around.

Reading have dipped a little bit and are near the bottom of the table, but you can’t underestimate them.

And Hull are always difficult opponents because of their recent Premier League status. Forest can’t go into Saturday’s game thinking like that, though. They have to go out there thinking, ‘we’re better than them’. They have to go out there and be positive.

If you sit back away from home you can make things difficult for yourself.

Barrie McKay rifles one into the top corner to give Forest the lead over Burton

Forest weren’t negative against Derby County, in their last away game, so they need to take the positives out of that.

They might have lost at Pride Park, but it could have been a totally different outcome if they’d taken their chances – look at the good points from that and take it forward into these next two games. On another day, they would have got their rewards for a positive approach; that’s something to keep in mind.

Last weekend’s win over Burton sets them up nicely for these next two matches.

It was important to get a result after losing to Derby, and it’s good to make it two home wins on the bounce, following up victory over Sheffield United.

Now they have to build on it again. Hopefully that result can help them grow in confidence and they can take it forward.

Forest just had that bit extra going forward; that made the difference against Burton.

There’s quite a bit of quality in that Forest team, especially in attack, so they can open defences up.

It’s defensively where they’ve struggled a bit, conceding sloppy goals, so it was good to see them keep a clean sheet at the weekend.

I’m sure it will do Jordan Smith the world of good. Goalkeepers love clean sheets. Brian Clough used to build his team around them – that’s a good approach to have.

They just needed to focus on doing the basics right, cutting out the silly mistakes and not taking chances in key areas. Sometimes, if you need to get rid of the ball, just get rid of it, don’t try to dig yourself into a hole.

If the defenders are doing their job, that takes some of the pressure off the strikers. And likewise, if the strikers are scoring goals, that takes a bit of pressure off the defence. It’s a team effort.

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