Nottingham Forest manager Philippe Montanier has admitted that he is not ‘comfortable’ in his position at the club after five consecutive defeats in all competitions.
Many of the fans who have stuck by him during tricky periods throughout the season now believe that it is time for a change. This may well happen this Tuesday as John Jay Moores prepares to complete a takeover of the club from current owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi.
Another false dawn for the Reds
Majority of Forest fans were optimistic with the appointment of Montanier this summer. He had an impressive CV, most notably his time with Real Sociedad where he managed to gain Champions League qualification. This was something even current Sunderland manager David Moyes was unable to achieve.
The promising start he made to his managerial stint at The City Ground was also a reason for optimism for Forest supporters. August was a good month for the Reds as they beat the likes of Burton Albion and Wigan Athletic 4-3 at home and also beat Leeds United 3-1 at the end of the month.
However, despite this good start, there were already concerns amongst Forest supporters about the defence and dismal away form. This was apparent from the first game of the season as Forest conceded three goals at home to Burton Albion. The attacking football and goals Forest were scoring appeared to be papering over the cracks. Forest fans can’t be blamed for enjoying this entertainment after a very dull season with Dougie Freedman at the helm last time out.
Freedman was heavily criticised for his boring style of play, but he knew how to get results in the Championship. He knew that the Forest squad he inherited wasn’t good enough to get results by playing ‘pretty’ football and scoring lots of goals. He instead focused on the strengths of the team, which at the time was the defence. He achieved many impressive results during his time at Forest including a 1-0 win away at Middlesbrough, who are now a Premier League team.
Forest’s away form this season under current manager Philippe Montanier has been diabolical. Their poor performances on the road started in August as Brighton & Hove Albion tore them apart at the Amex Stadium by winning 3-0 and Brentford also beat them 1-0 at Griffin Park. Forest did manage to pick up the odd draw such as the 2-2 at Rotherham United, but they seem incapable of getting a result anywhere on the road anymore.
Montanier’s position becoming untenable
This dismal run of performances from Forest all began on the dark day at local rivals Derby County in December. After three consecutive victories against the likes of Ipswich Town, Barnsley and Newcastle United, Forest fans went into this game optimistic. However, Forest failed to turn up on the day and didn’t show the necessary determination and passion needed to compete in a local derby. This was a concern that Montanier couldn’t motivate his players for the biggest game of the season.
As injuries and suspensions have mounted up and confidence dipped, Forest have failed to respond to this defeat. They did manage to get a result against Preston North End the following Wednesday as they drew 1-1 at The City Ground. However, Forest have not picked up a single result since in any competition, pulling them right into a relegation scrap.
Forest lost away to the likes of Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United during this period, games in which the Reds conceded some of the most horrific goals you will ever see. However, it was the home defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Barnsley which made Forest supporters realise how bad the situation at the club really was.
Not only has Forest’s defence continued to concede poor goals every game, with the Reds only managing to keep one clean sheet all season in the 2-0 win away at Ipswich Town. Forest are also now looking toothless upfront, and have now failed to score in their last two games. Not having a shot on target at home to Barnsley was really poor, and was the final straw for many Forest supporters in regards to their support of Montanier.
FA Cup defeat to signal end of Montanier?
Just when Forest fans felt the performances of the team couldn’t get any worse, they did against Wigan Athletic at The DW Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Forest fans were hopeful of progressing to the FA Cup Fourth Round as only one change was made to the starting line-up.
However, Wigan, who are one of only a couple of teams who sit below Forest in the league table as it stands, completely dominated the game from start to finish and well deserved their 2-0 win.
The concerning factor for Forest fans will be how they were totally outplayed by a team they are competing against relegation with on a day when it could have been a lot worse. The defence of Cash, Hobbs, Mancienne and Lichaj arguably did well to keep the score down as they were offered zero protection in front of them.
The likes of Patjim Kasami, Thomas Lam, Mustapha Carayol, Lica, Nicklas Bendtner and Nicolau Dumitru all featured for the Reds at Wigan and all put in abysmal performances. All of these players are new signings for this season, something which Montanier must have to take some responsibility for. These are all players Forest supporters would be happy to never see make an appearance for the club again.
The only players who can take anything out of that game were Stephen Henderson, Matty Cash, Eric Lichaj, Jack Hobbs, Michael Mancienne, Ben Osborn and Britt Assombalonga. They were the only ones who looked like they were bothered about the result.
As the new era under John Jay Moores is about to begin, it is clear to see that Forest are in need of a significant clear out. All of the players who failed to make an impact in the game at Wigan, and in many games throughout this season, should be moved on by the new owners and their management team, whoever that may be.
Big week ahead at The City Ground
With the takeover set to be completed on Tuesday, it could be a week of big chances ahead of Forest’s next game away at Birmingham City at St Andrews. These changes will come as a positive as it is no doubt needed if Forest are to remain in the Championship.
John Jay Moores is believed to have a number of people lined up to take over significant roles at the club such as Chief Executive and Director of Football. Majority if not all of the Forest supporters will be hoping he also decides to make a managerial change aswell and sack Philippe Montanier.
The away fans turned against the Frenchman yesterday with chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ being aimed at Montanier as he substituted start-striker Britt Assombalonga for Lica.
Montanier is responsible for a significant amount of Forest’s recent demise. The defence has never been properly sorted out even though the issues were there to see right from the beginning of the season. Forest also seem to have lost their identity of late, players being continuously played out of position and a clear lack of planning has been a common theme.
Many fans have been calling for Gary Rowett to be Montanier’s replacement. If the new owners were able to persuade him to The City Ground, it would be a very popular appointment. Whether or not he would join the club is a different matter considering he has only recently turned down Premier League team Hull City. Forest do need an appointment of his calibre if they are to turn things around this season.