The visit of Birmingham City last Saturday looked a far more difficult proposition than it turned out to be. The Blues had accrued some hard-fought points in their opening two matches, beating Brentford and drawing with Bristol City which suggested this would be no push over.
However, on closer inspection, the statistics from their opening two games hinted that a backs to the wall approach was on the cards at the City Ground.
Initially, I was surprised to see a central midfield of Watson (holding role), Semedo and Sow. But I got the logic of Lamouchi’s mindset, which was to negate the opposition before putting them on the back foot so to speak.
And on the back foot they were, from the moment Joe Lolley rifled home from twenty-five yards to send the home supporters into raptures. The goal, which came after quarter of an hour, appeared to dispel any nerves and act as a platform for domination.
It seemed like one of those rare days when everything just clicked into place, especially when Lewis Grabban doubled Forest’s lead seven minutes later. His movement prior to heading home was absolutely top drawer, if you watch it again, you’ll see how he plays on the shoulder of Harlee Dean before peeling away to the back post to score his second in as many matches. The artistry from Joe Lolley to create the goal was equally as impressive.
Two things worthy of note here, regardless of people’s perception of Grabban’s attitude, he always scores goals. Secondly, Lolley assisted from the right wing, where many bemoaned his deployment under previous managers. Both he and Sammy Ameobi continuously switched flanks during the contest, and it certainly seemed to work.
At this point of the proceedings it would be remiss not to highlight how poor Birmingham City were on the day, they were woeful and there for the taking. Which is why I salute Sabri Lamouchi for his attack minded approach in the second half. I’m pretty sure that our previous two managers would have seen fit to shut up shop and secure the win, but Lamouchi was intent on turning the screw.
I half expected the excellent Samba Sow to drop back alongside Watson in a 4-2-3-1 safety exhibition but to my delight the likes of Tiago Silva, Albert Adomah and Rafa Mir were thrown into the mix. And it paid dividends as Forest laid siege to the Birmingham penalty area.
Forest should have easily added at least two more goals after Michael Dawson headed home in the sixty fifth minute but the simplest of chances somehow eluded Ameobi and Grabban. It was very interesting to see that Lewis Grabban wasn’t punished by his Coach and dragged off after his glaring miss, instead, he was then partnered by Rafa Mir. Would the thirty-one-year old’s confidence have been dented had he been withdrawn? Who knows, but early signs show that Lamouchi knows how to get the best out of Lewis Grabban.
Listening to the supporters’ conversations after the game, they seemed in total agreement that this had been the most complete performance for quite some time. As I chatted to my friend in the bar afterwards, he alluded to the fact that perhaps it was a blessing we didn’t win by the five or six that we should have. Initially, I disagreed but soon accepted the rhetoric within; “it would only spark hysteria in the knee jerk world of social media” he said. And he was spot on!
In previous seasons I’ve witnessed narrow, cautious victories against similar sides to Birmingham City, who let’s be honest, were sitting ducks when all’s said and done. However, it was so refreshing to see Sabri Lamouchi turn the screw and go for the jugular.