While Stuart Pearce might have gone, the players who have under-performed remain. Brandon Reeves thinks it’s time some of them raised their game, Henri Lansbury in particular


It doesn’t take a genius to recognise that Forest have grossly under-performed in the Championship this season, and the players need to be taking more responsibility than they currently are; they’ve been protected by a City Ground legend who took much of the flak.

There are certain individuals in the squad who need to look at themselves; more specifically, Henri Lansbury. No doubt, he has ability that would be the envy of many players in the division as well has having Premier League suitors. But Lansbury needs to grow up and become a leader in the team.

His discipline, in a word, is abysmal. In his three seasons at the club, Lansbury has been booked 32 times. From 84 games, that’s a booking over one in every three games. He’s never been sent off, which astounds me, but the games he misses through the accumulation of bookings is plainly unprofessional. You can accept he’s a cheeky Cockney lad who’s got a bit of a gob on him — it’s a good thing to have a personality in a dressing room — but he flaunts the basics of respecting the referee at times; stupid and petulant bookings need to be cut out of his game. Lansbury isn’t a dirty player by any means but the boy can’t tackle.

Technically he is probably the best in the squad, with perhaps the exception of Andy Reid. However, he tends to become a passenger in games while looking elsewhere for somebody to step up and take charge of the game. He needs to do the nitty-gritty, become a mainstay in the side and become somebody upon whom we can rely on as Andy Reid’s days look to be coming to a messy, injury-laden anti-climax. Of late, as many others of the Forest squad are guilty of, Lansbury hasn’t looked like he wants to get on the ball and create; which is exactly what we need him to be doing.

Delivery of ball has been a problem. Watching him waste set-piece after set-piece frustrates me deeply as somebody of his undoubtable quality should be putting in a better quality of ball. Obviously in a bad run, the whole team will be lacking confidence and won’t be doing some of the basics you expect. It didn’t help, though, when Pearce came out after a match and kept on giving us the spiel of “lack of confidence”, when he should’ve been the one giving them confidence.

Lansbury has been tried in various positions for Forest: in the middle in a 4-4-2; on the right side of a diamond 4-1-2-1-2; and both behind the striker, and one of the double pivots in a 4-2-3-1. He is clearly better in a position where he can dictate play, attempt key passes, and chip in with the odd goal. We saw how good he can be when deployed in a 4-2-3-1 last year; his performances before the major injury collapse were very good. Also, we have seen him play well in a flat midfield four this season, in particular away at Wolves.

Personally I think that Lansbury plays better when his manager can put a bit of focused fire in his belly. A certain William McIntosh Davies had him performing at his best; I’m not sure Pearce really knew what to do with him. Perhaps Dougie Freedman will work out how to balance our disjointed midfield?

In the main, Lansbury should be taking more responsibility in games because the reliance on Andy Reid is ridiculous. Forest’s record with and without Andy Reid since 2013/14 season is astonishing — we’ve lost just three of the 38 games Reid has started since August 2013, winning 19 of them. Without him we’ve lost 23 out of 45 games, winning just 10.

Coincidence? I think not. It is not only astonishing but alarming. It is high time for Lansbury to become that talisman we desperately crave.


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