In the past year, simple things have been hard to come by at Nottingham Forest. When the signing of Simon Gillett was completed, there was confusion in some quarters.
“Surely now we have money, we can do better than this guy?”
“Underwhelming to say the least”
The above two comments sum up the thoughts of a lot of Forest fans, as Gillett walked through the door.
When the club lost Paul McKenna to Hull City a year before his contract expired, Forest lost a lot more than just a midfielder. It’s often said you don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it; this was certainly the case for Paul McKenna.
Whilst not being the most entertaining to watch, he always got the job done. His calming presence in the side when he received the ball, his leadership and his ability to protect the back four making crucial tackles and vital interceptions. He allowed the players in the side with more flair to play with extra freedom, and it got results.
The loss of McKenna was a big blow for the side, as in the next season they were battling relegation. His leadership lost, replaced by the error prone Luke Chambers, who was usually found throwing his arms in the air in an angry fashion, blaming somebody else as per.
Positionally, he was replaced by the experienced Jonathan Greening and George Boateng. Two for the price of one, what could go wrong?
Well, everything went wrong. Greening performed like a lost boy the majority of the time, and Boateng, despite his unquestionable effort, wasn’t fit for the job and didn’t stay in the side for very long.
Guy Moussi was, and still is another option. A fans favourite and entertainer, usually when he’s not got the ball, and attempting to regain possession. It’s normally when he does have the ball, dallies with it and consequently loses possession, that sees him get criticism.
Moussi and Greening still have roles to play at the club. How big the roles are, in a Forest squad packed with central midfielders, only Sean O’Driscoll knows.
In Simon Gillett, Forest have discovered a gem.
He buzzes around the midfield hungrily looking for possession. Constantly hassling the opposition in an intelligent manner, meaning he can hold his position and yet still annoy the players looking for a way through Forest’s solid midfield.
Pressurising the opposition into mistakes is his speciality, and when he does eventually get the ball, he’s wise with it. Simple but effective, letting the adventurous Lewis McGugan and Adlene Guedioura spring forward, along with the creative force of Andy Reid.
When Gillett gets the ball and plays it to a man in a Red shirt, it’s often met with appreciative applause. Rarely does he put a foot wrong, as he picks the right passing option. Supporters sit back and relax when he’s in possession, as he brings an element of security that is rare.
Billy Sharp, Simon Cox, Henri Lansbury and Adlene Guedioura.
Four big Championship headline-grabbing signings. Despite the brilliant transfer deadline day capture of Billy Sharp, the bargain buy of Henri Lansbury, the goal-getter Simon Cox, and fans favourite Adlene Guedioura; there’s one name on the lips of Nottingham Forest fans at the moment, and that name is Simon Gillett.
Liverpool got a player of a similar ilk to Simon Gillett, for £15 million when they bought Joe Allen. Gillett is 26 years old, can only get better, and the Al-Hasawi family paid nothing.
He doesn’t get any headlines, but he’s already a popular figure amongst every Forest follower.
If anything, this transfer has emphasised that in Sean O’Driscoll, everyone should trust.
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