If you’re a Nottingham Forest fan, you have had ‘the Lewis McGugan conversation’. He’s one of the best players outside the Premier League to some, and to others, he’s a luxury that’s not worth keeping. From one extreme to the other, the home-grown midfielder really does divide opinion.
Making his debut in the 2006/07 season, McGugan showed much promise and potential. Fearless on the ball and confidence in his undoubted ability, the high standards he set himself led fans expecting a lot in the years ahead. His talent since, has only been flaunted in glimpses.
If you’re looking for the perfect footballer for television highlights, McGugan is your man. Whether it’s a last minute penalty to claw a draw or a thirty-five yard rocket, he’s always involved in the memorable moments. Supporters of other clubs rave about him when they’re linked with his services, as some Forest fans look on bemused.
Many Forest fans have travelled the length and breadth of the country to be treated to a lazy, uninspiring performance from the much-overhyped man. Walking through games, reluctant to move into space and to put a foot in when required. Almost as if McGugan believes that because he’s on a good run of form, he’s warranted a day off. This passenger-like performance however, is ignored by some.
Because of his tendency to go on a run of 5/6 games showing the best of his potential, it can often lead to a wave of delusional thoughts amongst the Forest supporters. Stats referring to his ‘goals per minutes ratio’ are plastered all over the social networking sites, which surely would be good for a player often referred to as ‘super-sub’. Quotes such as “we wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for McGugan”, can be plucked from the internet with ease.
With every run of success comes the same approach of admiration from some to McGugan that makes it all about him, as if Forest are a one man team. Every run of success is swiftly followed by a trail of failure, as McGugan appears to get caught up in the hype. For seven years it’s gone on, and for seven years the same debate has followed.
He’s been linked with several Premier League clubs in the years gone by; But why haven’t they signed him? Simply enough, because they’ve done a whole lot more than to watch his highlights montage. Numerous scouts would’ve come to the City Ground to watch ninety minutes of Lewis McGugan expecting a spectacle. The harsh reality is, they may as well have only turned up for fifteen of those minutes, because that’s all McGugan partakes in.
Due to the promise he demonstrated in the early part to his career, the Forest faithful have the right to question why his career still sees him as a bit-part Championship player, especially considering the progress the likes of Michael Dawson went on to make after coming through the academy and Jermaine Jenas to a lesser extent, after serious injuries dented his career somewhat.
So would it be more beneficial for Forest if McGugan left, making way for a player who wanted to graft for success 46 games in a season?
Spending years at a club can often bring a hero status from all fans. But with McGugan, there are still questions. If they’re not answered after seven years, when will they be answered?
Everyone is waiting for that moment McGugan arrives. The time he will become consistent, and be the name on everyone’s lips for a whole season in a positive fashion.
In ten years time when retirement is looming and his best days are behind him, Lewis McGugan may just regret the years he spent floating around in his peak years, expecting success to be laid on a plate. For now though, he has a decision to make.
Seeking pastures new may just be the best way forward for him, and probably for Nottingham Forest supporters too.
@will_forest to get in touch via Twitter.