Nottingham Forest ended the weekend having lost ground on the play-off positions following their 2-0 defeat against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium, and manager Martin O’Neill’s team selection once again left a lot to be desired.
Well, the former Republic of Ireland boss has used a range of different formations and tactics since arriving at The City Ground in January, but appears to have settled on a 4-3-3/4-1-4-1 system in recent weeks, with the wingers having space to roam across the pitch.
However, the 66-year-old has preferred a more solid central midfield partnership of Ben Watson, Jack Colback and Ryan Yates, and the Reds have probably suffered from a lack of creativity as a result as they continue to rely on Joe Lolley to produce the goods.
Club-record signing Joao Carvalho has continuously had to settle for a spot on the substitutes’ bench, while Ben Osborn played on the left in the absence of Matty Cash against the Potters, but failed to make much of an impact.
Along with the issues in midfield that meant Forest produced a largely toothless display at the weekend, the experienced manager should also consider making a change up top by bringing in January addition Leo Bonatini for Daryl Murphy.
The 35-year-old clearly doesn’t have the legs or the hold-up play to feature in the centre-forward role both effectively and consistently.
In Carvalho and Diogo Goncalves they have players that can make a difference in the final third if given the opportunity, and the man with the power to pick them needs to be less conservative if he is to succeed in taking the club into the play-offs come what May.