It is no secret that Nottingham Forest are struggling to score goals, but their latest attempt to try and do so if anything had the adverse effect.
Following Ryan Tunnicliffe’s goal for Luton Town in last night’s 1-0 defeat, Forest responded by changing their shape and adopting the classic 4-4-2 formation.
Lyle Taylor came on to partner Glenn Murray as Chris Hughton’s side went in search of an equaliser, but as a result, Forest became stale, ineffective and predictable.
It didn’t help that Taylor was very poor upon his arrival and spent more time on the floor throwing his arms about than contributing to the cause, but Forest completely lost all momentum they had with that switch.
One of the reasons for this was taking attacking midfielder Filip Krovinovic off, as even with two progressive passers from deep in James Garner and Cafu, Forest couldn’t join up midfield and attack.
As the space grew between the lines, Luton were happy to occupy the passing lanes, meaning Forest had nowhere to go and as they weren’t going direct, Luton essentially had the cigars out for the last 25 minutes.
4-4-2 is a formation that polarises many in the football world, but yet it is still demanded – and was a lot on social media after Forest went a goal down – given the notion that two strikers on the pitch is better than one.
This in itself is a flawed belief and Forest were in fact on top for two thirds of the match playing in their usual 4-2-3-1 – it was just on this occasion, Glenn Murray was surprisingly profligate and missed two glorious chances.
Garner also almost made it two goals in two games playing in that 4-2-3-1 formation as well, with his driving effort superbly parried away by Simon Sluga.
On the one hand, you have to give credit to Hughton for trying something different and utilising a plan B – after all, Forest did start the second half sluggishly and were made to pay for that.
But on the other, while it’s a formation that has served Hughton well in the past, it doesn’t seem to work with this set of Forest players.
In the 1-1 home draw against Derby County, Forest went 4-4-2 near the end in an attempt to win, but there was no connection between midfield and attack and subsequently, no partnership between Taylor and Lewis Grabban.
Against Luton it was a similar story, with Murray and Taylor barely looking at each other, let alone finding each other, while their supply lines were non-existent.
Having a manager not afraid to change shape is a good thing, but it very much seems like until Forest can get to the summer and get a full Hughton pre-season under their belts, the 4-4-2 experiment is best left on the shelf.
Should Nottingham Forest keep adopting the 4-4-2 formation when chasing games?