Nottingham Forest star Brice Samba kept his first clean sheet of the season on Saturday. The Reds defeated Huddersfield 2-0 and perhaps Chris Hughton deserves praise for the goalkeeper’s shutout.
The recently departed boss will have been as far away from South Yorkshire as possible. He was handed his P45 on Thursday after overseeing his sixth loss in seven Championship matches during 2021/22.
On Wednesday, following a 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough, the fat lady was singing loud and clear. A decision he made prior to the match could have benefitted Forest in the long-term, however.
Does Hughton deserve credit for Samba clean sheet?
Indirectly, but yes. Some supporters have called for the Congolese goalkeeper to be taken out of the firing line for a considerable amount of time.
Samba has craved serious competition since he checked in at the City Ground in 2019. Neither Aro Muric, a loan signing from Manchester City, nor Jordan Smith really grasped their chances in the past.
In the summer, Forest added Ethan Horvath, however. The American arrived from Club Brugge where he made four appearances last season, including one in the Champions League.
Two strong showings in the Carabao Cup showcased that he could be the competition that Samba had been desperately craving.
After another error in Sunday’s game against Cardiff, Hughton made the bold call. He dropped Samba and started with Horvath for the Middlesbrough clash.
It was a move that saw him fall on his sword. An error from the United States international allowed Onel Hernandez to make it 2-0 and prompted Forest to part with Hughton.
Will Samba retain his number one spot at Forest?
On Saturday he did everything he was asked to do with relative ease. Steven Reid not only changed the system, but he also reinstated Samba between the posts.
In 95 games for Forest, Samba has kept 30 clean sheets and it’s fair to say he’s not been as bad as some supporters have made out.
During 2021/22 he has made several errors though. Admittedly none have been quite as obvious as Horvath’s was against Boro, but he’s been conceding from shots that he should be saving.
Hughton’s decision to drop Samba in Forest’s last home game looks to have done wonders for Samba’s confidence.
Having a little reminder that there is now a capable goalkeeper waiting in the wings might just help the stopper kick on for the rest of the campaign.