Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka believes his side are still working towards achieving their full potential after beating Sheffield United 1-0 on Saturday.
The Blades went into the game top of the Sky Bet Championship but they were blunted by a hard-working Forest performance, with the prolific Lewis Grabban heading home the winner in the 69th minute after a pinpoint cross from Joao Carvalho.
Saturday’s win moved Forest into the Championship play-off places and speaking post-match, Karanka expressed his delight at the result but claimed his side would only get better.
“I am really pleased for the players,” said the former Real Madrid assistant boss.
“I told them after the game that this team hasn’t reached its peak. We are improving and growing a lot.
“The bigger picture today is that we beat a top-of-the-table team and a team which had the best form in the league but we can’t forget that they’ve been working together for three years or more, with the same manager improving every single day.
“We’ve been working together for just three or four months, after bringing 16 or more players in, but we were much better than them.”
Neither side had as many clear-cut chances as they would have liked and one of the few moments of quality in the final third ultimately won the game for Forest.
Karanka claimed his side dealt well with everything Sheffield United threw at them
“I don’t want to say it was an easy game but I don’t remember a lot of chances for them, it was just set pieces and even those set pieces we defended really well,” he said.
“When everyone is fully committed on the pitch, and everybody works together even when we don’t have a lot of time to work on the training ground — because of the games Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday — it is easier.”
Forest have now defeated fellow promotion-chasers Sheffield United and Middlesbrough in recent weeks, whilst also controversially having to make do with a point from an away trip to Leeds.
Despite their recent good fortune against the teams up and around them, Karanka wants his side to stay focused and learn from every game, including the bad ones.
“We have to remember everything. We can remember the games against the top of the table teams, but we also have to remember the performances against Norwich and Burton,” he added.