Martin O’Neill has never shied away from the fact that his Nottingham Forest reign to this point has been something of an experiment.

Whatever your opinion on how long that process should take, that is where we are.

And there is no end in sight.

The changes keep on coming.

There were more of them against Blackburn on Saturday.

Delivering an all too familiar end result.

With a 2-1 reversal taken into account, and two successive setbacks prior to that, more pack shuffling is to be expected.

With much of that coming at the back.

Success, history dictates, is built on solid foundations.

Keep the back door bolted and prising open the front one becomes a darn sight easier.


(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Under O’Neill, Forest have kept three clean sheets in 15.

They have also conceded the first goal in any given contest eight times.

Which goes some way to explaining why the Reds find themselves on the outside of the play-off party once again.

Stability and continuity has not been found in a crucial department.

Partnerships are not being built.

They are thrown together and then immediately ripped up.

How are those at the back expected to operate as a cohesive unit when not getting game time together?

The obvious argument for O’Neill is that he has not been in a position to stick rather than twist.

Yohan Benalouane and Alexander Milosevic offered early promise, but have suffered a slight dip.

Should they be persevered with?

What is going on at left-back?

Jack Robinson has been the most reliable option there, but Ben Osborn and now Jack Colback have been asked to provide cover on a regular basis.

Luke Steele was used between the sticks for a trip to Hillsborough, but Costel Pantilimon was recalled 90 minutes later.



The experimental defensive pack pieced together against Blackburn raised plenty of eyebrows, but should it have?

Pantilimon, Sam Byram, Molla Wague, Robinson and Colback.

The 11th different back five to have been used by O’Neill in 15 fixtures.

There have been plenty of regulars – Pantilimon has seen 14 games, Benalouane 12, Robinson 10, Osborn eight, Milosevic eight, Tendayi Darikwa seven, Saidy Janko six etc etc.

O’Neill opened his reign by naming the same five against Bristol City and Wigan, but the blueprint was then shredded.

It has never been pieced back together.

The picture is not becoming any clearer either with the likes of Michael Dawson, Tobias Figueiredo, Michael Hefele and Joe Worrall to be added to the pot.

And what happens with Sam Byram at the end of his loan?

Will a new goalkeeper be sought in the next transfer window?

Suspensions, injuries and changeable form are intangibles that no manager can predict, but Forest need to come up with a favoured plan of action if they are to start laying those important foundations.

Have something to tell us about this article?