Martin O’Neill has made a point of trying to keep opponents guessing during his time as Nottingham Forest manager.

The experiments keep on coming, with selection calls raising plenty of eyebrows.

In many ways, that is no bad thing.

If those you are facing have no idea what they coming up against, how are they supposed to plan for the challenges ahead?

The element of surprise should, however, be purely external.

Not internal.

Those on the Reds’ books should not be as shocked as everybody else when starting XIs are drawn up.

Jack Colback’s reaction to be asked to play left-back against Blackburn is unknown.

Jack Robinson’s to being switched to centre-half is public knowledge.


(Photo by Kate McShane/Getty Images)

The versatile 25-year-old said in the Nottingham Post after a 2-1 defeat on home soil: “I was a little bit surprised to find myself at centre-half again – but it is not a problem at all, because I am comfortable playing there. I was just disappointed not to get the results, when I am playing.”

Not a problem, but slightly concerning.

If Robinson was baffled by the selection call, then that goes some way to explaining the current malaise.

He was not shifted into an unnatural role, but not one he was expecting to fill.

When are these decisions made?

Given that Forest had been in midweek action at Sheffield Wednesday, time on the training ground would have been in short supply.

Robinson lined up at left-back at Hillsborough.

He was moved inside alongside Molla Wague a matter of days later.

Said duo were paired together at the heart of the back four against Rovers for the very first time.

One of 11 different defensive selections to have been made by O’Neill in just 15 games.

Partnerships need to be built in competitive action, but moulded away from the field.

How long were Wague and Robinson given to get acquainted?



They have formed part of the same back four on a regular basis over recent weeks, but never directly alongside one another.

With Colback to their left and Sam Byram to the right.

Robinson clearly expected to be in the left-back berth that he has impressed in on the whole this season.

He has played at centre-half plenty of times over the course of his career, but there is a sense of more square pegs being forced into round holes.

When those involved are not expecting such decisions to be taken.

That does not bode all that well for the remaining four games of the 2018-19 campaign.

Given that Forest are currently on a run of three successive defeats, with one win secured in their last six, more changes are to be expected.

A winning formula, on a consistent basis, has not been found.

O’Neill appears set to keep everyone guessing.

Both in and out of the City Ground by the look of things!

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