At Tuesday’s Supporters Club Q&A, manager Steve Cotterill and chief executive Mark Arthur sought to address fans’ concerns. Peter Blackburn reports.
Despite a litany of mediocre questions, and mediocre answers, in amongst the usual discussion about recent performances, relationship between club and fans, and the hope that Forest would beat The Rams in the next derby game, there were a few moments of interest at the recent Supporters Club question and answers event.
When pressed about the future of the academy at Nottingham Forest, Mark Arthur confirmed, what many may already know, that Forest will be looking to become a Category B (2) Academy under the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). The EPPP will see radical changes in the formation of grassroots football in this country, and will without doubt have a massive effect on the running of this football club. At an unusually frugal time given recent years of fairly frivolous spending, Forest will now be relying on the academy to play the sort of club role that it did in the Paul Hart years. In Patrick Bamford, Danny Meadows, and soon, Jamaal Lascelles we are seeing the first shoots of what will hopefully be a fruitful period of youth cultivation for the Reds.
However, despite Arthur’s transparency regarding the future for Forest as a category B team, he refused to acknowledge the threat of Leicester City, who sources suggest will be attempting to sit at the top table in category A. Arthur’s short riposte to a further line of questioning on this point was that Nottingham Forest have always managed to attract good players and that he had faith that the club would continue to do so. This is all well and good, but does not seem to reflect the reality of the situation. Forest probably will lose out on some players but, if the Academy continues to be wonderfully staffed, brilliantly equipped and enthusiastically run, Arthur will be right.
No doubt then, that the academy has a massive role to play in the future of the club, but this also raises further points. Steve Cotterill pressed the point, several times, that he simply is not willing to further the careers of average academy players and won’t be accepting anything less than true potential. Arthur also hinted that academy funding would be kept on a fairly tight leash in order to create some funds for the manager’s disposal.
The night it seemed was largely focused, albeit through an organic process or question and answer, on Cotterill’s footballing philosophy, choice of tactics and team selection. There can be no doubt that the manager has a significant favouritism for Marcus Tudgay given the amount of times he was praised during the evening.
More interestingly, Cotterill hinted that the 4-2-3-1 formation that many advocate was a potential permanent fixture. However, despite the recent form of Andy Reid, the player who seems to have the ability to turn our season around, the manager thinks that Forest need someone “more mobile” to play the ‘off the striker’ position than Reid or Lewis McGugan. This would intimate that only one of those two will have a place in the future of this formation, presuming that some pace will be required on the opposing flank.
Other comments during the evening made it clear that Cotterill would be giving the players a seriously hard fitness programme during pre-season and that he was displeased with the fitness levels that he found at the club. In addition to this, we can expect a aerially dominant centre-back, a goal-scoring striker, and a mobile attacking midfielder to be on the manager’s shopping list over the coming months.
There is no doubt that the times are changing down at Forest. Arthur presents a clear picture of a club that, for once, now has to think about finances in every decision it makes. Despite there being a sense of sadness that million-pound signings are going to be come significantly few and far between, in some senses the future of the club is actually exciting. Under the new structure Forest will simply have to be much more well-managed, otherwise inexistence is the only option.
Without doubt though, the key point to take from the evening is that in Cotterill, Forest have a man of genuine honesty and commitment at the helm. Cotterill accepted this job in the grimmest of circumstances, and as such it seems that the only way is up. Relegation aside obviously. Cotterill will be fair to the fans, and will work damn hard to make a success of things at the City Ground. Without millions of pounds in financial backing, this is all that Forest fans can now ask.
Follow Peter on Twitter: @petermblackburn
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