In the aftermath of Nottingham Forest’s 0-0 draw with AFC Bournemouth, there was one notable talking point – why Chris Hughton made no substitutes.
The Forest boss was accused of lacking ambition by some on Twitter, who felt that with some subs and fresh legs, the Reds could’ve won the game.
However, all things considered, Hughton was right not to make any subs for several reasons.
Against Bournemouth, Forest comfortably put in their best performance outside of the ball all season.
Their shape and structure was rock solid, with Bournemouth’s flair players like Jack Wilshere, David Brooks and Arnaut Danjuma struggling to have any major impact.
As such, why make a change for the sake of it? As the popular saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – Bournemouth weren’t gaining an advantage on any part of the pitch, so there was no need to shuffle the pack.
In addition to that, Forest created the best chances of the game despite perhaps being more defensively minded.
On another day, Joe Worrall meets Anthony Knockaert’s exquisite free kick much better and at leasts gets an effort on target, while Glenn Murray’s header squeezes through the gap between the keeper and the man on the line.
Ultimately that’s football, but in a game that was dominated possession wise by Bournemouth, there’s nothing to suggest shaking it up and going for it would’ve yielded anything.
In fact, it would more likely have had an adverse effect. If Forest went for it and brought on Joe Lolley, Lewis Grabban and Lyle Taylor, they would’ve been sacrificing that structure against a side who were always going to have 60% of the ball.
That in turn would’ve given Bournemouth more gaps to get their flair players on the ball and subsequently cause issues.
As frustrating as it may be, some fans need to remember Forest are still in a relegation battle. It was only three months ago this same Bournemouth side ripped them limb from limb in a comfortable 2-0 win.
This time, they didn’t have a shot on target and on another day, Forest take their chances and win.
It’s a classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t for Hughton – had he gone attacking and lost, the same fans who wanted the Reds to attack would be blaming him for losing a point and losing ground.
But on this instance, while some may bemoan a perceived lack of ambition, Hughton made the right call all things considered.
If you were Chris Hughton, what changes would you have made?