The Warm Down: Misfiring Forest extend dismal record in front of goal
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

As the dejected players fell to their knees at the full-time whistle, a sense of trepidation about what's ahead loomed over the City Ground, following Nottingham Forest's defeat to Swansea City

It marks a third straight defeat for the Reds, but more worryingly, a third game without finding the net. The East Midlands outfit have failed to score in seven of their 14 matches so far, which serves a reminder of the club's lowly position in the Sky Bet Championship table. 

A win in Sunday lunchtime's clash with the Swans could have lifted Forest into 19th position but more importantly, it would alleviate some pressure on the side, going into a lengthy run of challenging fixtures. 

No identity 

Football is a game that changes by the week and an upturn in form has the potential to change a teams season at any moment, however, Forest need to develop a trust and find their particular style to give the club an identity on the pitch. 

The squad has so often looked disjointed this season, with stray passes, wayward shots, poor decision making and a lack of urgency being a pit of downfall in a string of disappointing results. 

Over the past decade, the club has seen 13 different managers in the dugout, ultimately leading to an influx of incoming and outgoings every transfer window. 

The contrasting styles and range of players signed in recent years has left Forest with a terrific squad on paper. It's a squad that the majority of the opposing clubs in the division would envy but is also one that lacks cohesion and balance. 

There is a style that is commonly preferred both by Chris Hughton and his predecessor Sabri Lamouchi, but very little in the form of a known strongest 11, effective balanced formation and a clear style and brand of play. 

Although it's hard to criticise Hughton for not knowing the ins and outs of his squad just months after taking the job, you do question his persistent pick of Tobias Figueiredo

Figueiredo has turned out some impressive performances in his time at the City Ground, but in truth, needs a spell out of the side. 

The Portuguese international looks plagued for confidence as well as ideas, and a break from action would benefit Loic Mbe Soh who deserves a chance to impress following his £4.5 million switch from PSG this summer. 

Forest lacking cutting edge 

Hughton named two changes following on from Wednesday night's defeat at AFC Bournemouth, as Miguel Guerrero and Anthony Knockaert joined the starting 11 to replace Harry Arter and Joe Lolley

Defeat for the Reds has left them just one place above the dotted line, with two points separating themselves and Wycombe Wanderers

Despite it being a mile from their lofty pre-season ambitions, Forest on face value are in a relegation battle - at least for the present.

Defensively Forest are a long way off the level that they know they're capable of, however, the defensive line hasn't been the main source of worry this campaign. A cluster of teams are in touching distance of Hughton's side at the bottom, but only Sheffield Wednesday in the bottom six have shipped fewer goals. 

Instead, the underlying burden lies at the opposite end of the pitch. The Reds were able to keep hold of attacking outlets in the summer, as well as adding further firepower in the final third to join a plethora of high-quality Championship players at the club. 

What did we learn from Swansea? 

Swansea will remain lodged in the heads of the Nottingham Forest players this week, just as they did in July when the Swans snuck into sixth spot above the Reds in dramatic late fashion. Ultimately, Forest have looked void of confidence since that day, with the late collapse blending into the new campaign and spiralling out of control to leave the Reds 21st. 

Youngster Will Swan was introduced to Championship action for the first time, after impressing for the U23s. The striker came on to replace Sammy Ameobi on the 76th minute and showed bursts of acceleration in the attacking third but was unable to involve himself in any waves of pressure on goal. At just 20, Swan is likely to feature on many more occasions this season and will provide healthy competition as he continues to develop. 

A switch-up at the back is needed for Forest. Refreshing the backline should be the first thing Hughton addresses before Watford's visit to the City Ground on Wednesday evening. It's important to establish a common back four, however, so far things haven't worked for the Reds and a roll of the dice could benefit the stability of the side against Watford. 

Merry Christmas on Trent side? 

Looking ahead Forest need to pick up their form to ensure they don't slide into the relegation zone, but should still target a comfortable finish despite things not jelling at this moment. 

There is a squad of players there, that are capable and have quality but at times just look too fearful to use that in attacking situations. The willingness to try beat the man, get up for the second ball or try an effort from range just doesn't seem at the Forest players disposal at this moment - which needs to change soon as the hectic schedule over the festivities takes no prisoners. 

 

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