Jon Punt looks back on a familiar City home showing, that was either 'excellent' or 'awful' depending on who you spoke to/overheard on Hill House Road walking home.
Random star performer
Some players signed from distant shores evidently need time to adjust to their new surroundings and *insert desired cliché about how physical the English game is here*. Onel Hernandez, based on performances thus far, is not one of those individuals.
The Cuban’s heels are quick enough to trouble many a Championship defence, and in his limited game time since January he looks to have something resembling an end product – everything that Josh Murphy has been lacking for some weeks now. Hernandez’s cut back to create a gilt edged chance for Maddison mid way through the second half was sublime, but perhaps more importantly, when he loses possession he is incredibly eager to win it back where it counts – at the top end of the pitch. City are learning to utilise his strengths now he’s had a sustained period in the side, often being slightly more direct when Hernandez is in space, greater understanding with his colleagues will hopefully see more from him in the coming weeks.
Moment of the match
No. We’re not going to laud the fact that some moron from the Midlands decided it would be a really excellent idea to creep onto the pitch, then proceed to put in the worst performance seen by a streaker of ALL TIME. We’re definitely not going to question why anyone would only pull down their trousers to such an extent as to make running significantly more difficult while displaying an extraordinarily bad pair of pants. So let’s just move on shall we?
The Forest fans seemed to have an issue with Hanley’s physicality towards their new great hope from the academy production line, Ben Brereton. They were wrong. This was a defensive masterclass in how to rough someone up to the extent that they fade from the game, personified by the first half shoulder barge which was preceded by a cheeky look at his man before bundling him (fully legally) to the ground. The fact Hanley only moments later almost threaten to eat the linesman when the Scot hadn’t realised the officials had blown for a foul was also marvellously noteworthy. Never change Grant, never change.
Much to discuss here. The omission of Nelson Oliveira from the matchday squad is the obvious talking point, and the continuing disciplinary problems seem to suggest a summer exit could beckon.
The only issue here however is that’s now 75% of the current ‘strikers’ at the club (yes we are including Watkins and Murphy) that have been publicly called out for their attitude towards training. Depending on your point of view, you could argue this is strong man management, which will affect long term cultural change. You could also assert Farke can’t manage his big time Charlies. You decide, because I can’t.
Critics who have lambasted the manager for introducing his substitutes too late into the game may have been slightly happier, with Hoolahan and Watkins entering the fray just after the 70 minute mark. It seemed to galvanise both the team and the crowd, yet some professional shithousing from the visitors, much like Karanka’s Boro side of 2014-15, ensured a draw was always the likeliest of outcomes.
Biggest positive to take
The work in progress continues to chug along, perhaps not at the pace many would like, but with signs of improvement while not disrupting a continually resolute backline.
This was a Forest side unbeaten in four, clearly more ably organised by Karanka than they ever had been under Warburton. At times it nearly clicked, and had City taken one of the two clear cut chances they created it may well have gone onto to be a comfortable victory.
Farke was also happy to roll the dice to an extent, when your midfield comprises of Hoolahan, Maddison, Vrancic and Leitner you know the team is engineered to try and create something.
A failure to convert the chances created, without ever really cutting more defensively minded sides open with regularity remains the key issue for the coaching team to address, especially at home.
That said, everything positive from a creative perspective flowed through Oliveira during the Bolton match and Srbeny is still finding his feet at this level. Whether match day preparations were hindered by Nelson’s training meltdown is a debate which might rumble on.
A relatively small Forest following meant there was no real opportunity for #midweekmadbantz with the away support and it made for a drab time in the stands.
The crowd came to life during the latter stages of a match City looked like they were at least trying to win but in general terms it was quiet. Tuesday nights under the lights used to be something to savour, if only for the atmospherics, but it’s sadly lacking nowadays. As always, along with our friends at Barclay End Norwich, we’re very open to hearing ideas about how to generate more noise which we’d hope in turn might positively affect things on the pitch.
Get in touch. No, please – get in touch.
City’s superior possession and quality of chances created tell only part of the tale. The home side looked in the ascendancy for large parts of the match, yet the cynical tactics of Karanka to grab a point when their opening ten minute salvo had failed ultimately proved to be successful. And that’s the issue that so many point to, we just can’t find a way to dispatch sides in these instances.
The post match comments emanating from the manager went a little further than they usually do in highlighting this problem too, as such you’d hope those left with the correct attitude toward training are doing all they can to address it.