Former Nottingham Forest and Wales star David Phillips has backed Chris Hughton as the man to bring the good times back to the City Ground following a 21-year exile from the Premier League.
Phillips made 126 appearances in the famous Garibaldi, claiming the club’s Player of the Year mantle for the 1993/94 campaign as Forest won promotion to the Premier League.
Hughton replaced Sabri Lamouchi earlier this week and the former central midfielder believes Forest are in safe hands going forward.
He exclusively told Nottingham Forest News: “I’ve known Chris for a long time and he’s someone I respect highly.
“I thought he was really hard done by at Newcastle; he did a great job and basically got the elbow and moved onto Birmingham, Norwich and then Brighton.
“If you look at what he did for Brighton as a club, he’s helped establish them as a Premier League club.
“He’s got a wealth of knowledge and I firmly believe he can bring the good times back to Nottingham Forest.
“Hughton has been in the Championship, he’s been in the Premier League and I think he’s the man to take Forest back to where they belong.”
Phillips scored five times in 126 appearances for the Reds and his energetic style earnt him rave reviews from the club’s supporters.
Accustomed to netting a long-range effort, the former playmaker also addressed the situation regarding the style of play that Hughton might bring.
Forest fans have been chomping at the bit trying to establish how the Reds might line-up under the ex-Brighton boss and Phillips thinks supporters will be pleasantly surprised.
He continued: “He’s had different styles wherever he’s been. At Brighton, he went with the three big, uncompromising central defenders. That worked for him, along with the two wing-backs.
“Throughout his career, he’s not minded changing formations and systems – and even the players themselves.
“At Norwich and Birmingham, he played different types of football. With Norwich is was always a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 and they played very stylish football. I think that might be what we see at Forest.”
Forest’s season ended in cruel fashion during 2019/20, with the Reds slipping out of the playoffs on the final day of the season.
Phillips says he hasn’t been overly surprised to see the club struggle to get over the disappointment of last season during their start to the new season.
Forest have lost all five of the games they’ve played in all competitions and the ex-Red has compared the plight to a Premier League club who experienced similar.
Phillips claimed: “It’s always difficult to get over, you just have to look at Tottenham Hotspur.
“They got to the Champions League Final with Mauricio Pochettino and then basically it’s exactly the same, they had a hangover to start the following, season and didn’t start well at all.
“It has an immense impact, not only on the club itself but the directors and also the players. It’s the players out on the pitch who put a shed load of energy into themselves into position to start with, only to fail so miserably.”
Forest are next in action against Blackburn Rovers and Phillips’ final thought was one of looking forward.
He did speak with some sympathy for Sabri Lamouchi, following his departure.
Ultimately, Phillips had a message for the club’s hierarchy though to back Hughton and the end the culture of chopping and changing on Trentside.
On the number of managers that have come and gone, he said: “It’s been far too many as far as I’m concerned and I’m sure the supporters feel the same.
“Every manager comes in has his own ideas, his own style of play and you think ‘right we’re set here’ but then all of a sudden they go.
“Lamouchi had his opportunity and unfortunately he’s failed last year. Not having the loyal supporters didn’t help with the fans inside the ground, they might have been able to roar them over the finishing line.
“Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, things haven’t started well and the board had a decision to make.”
Phillips is coaching youngsters at his own football academy these days, whilst he also co-commentates on Sky Sports during international matches.
The 57-year-old was part of some fantastic times at the City Ground and he clearly believes Forest have chosen wisely with the appointment of Hughton.
Only time will tell, of course, but if the new boss can get the Reds playing with the passion that Phillips showed on Trentside, they won’t go far wrong.