Cardiff City piled the pressure on Sabri Lamouchi on Saturday as they won 2-0 against Nottingham Forest, in the first game at the City Ground this season
If the announcement of Forest’s line-up caused concern for some, then Kieffer Moore’s goal after just three minutes completely knocked the wind out of the metaphorical sails.
The corner seemed innocuous but the Forest players failed to attack the ball, and Tobias Figueiredo completely lost his man who scored from a free header.
After conceding the penalty against QPR last week, the Portuguese centre-back is now taking the fans’ flack and, despite a successful first season, seems to be suffering Forest’s malaise more than other players. The imminent signing of Scott McKenna from Aberdeen, a left-footed centre-back, would bolster a back four that’s struggled since the restart.
Again, similar to the QPR game, Forest did create chances. On 16 minutes Luke Freeman floated a cross into the box, which dropped on to Lewis Grabban’s outstretched foot but the touch was too heavy.
Without Ben Watson playing the quarterback role, Jack Colback scurries back and forth holding in midfield while Ryan Yates makes himself available wherever and whenever he can. Freeman evidently offers more going forwards but the interlinking play in the centre of the pitch is still lacking.
The game was effectively over after 40 minutes when Moore scored again, running on to a knock-on after the ball was played back in — the defenders failing to clear their lines and pick up their man.
The goals conceded were somewhat surprising given Lamouchi’s comments after the game: “We worked all week on long throw-ins, second balls, corners and we missed the marking and it is unacceptable. We conceded the first goal after the first corner and we conceded the second goal after the first throw-in.”
However, Forest came out a side transformed in the second-half, adopting a 4-4-2 formation after Joe Lolley had come off for Lyle Taylor towards the end of the first-half. The play much more expansive and after 15 minutes, 41% of the match had been in the Cardiff half.
Of course it was all to no avail though, but maybe proved that last season’s hangover had been shaken and we can play when we want to.
Was Taylor the difference? His gamesmanship with the Cardiff defenders is something we’ve missed in recent seasons, and his running alongside Grabban offered a new dimension going forwards.
It’s easy to pontificate about what Lamouchi could or should do. Evidently the squad was thin and exhausted by the end of last season and the new additions will bolster that. The 4-2-3-1 formation can work with the right players — Freeman has slotted in very well in the number 10 position, and will make us a more attacking side.
Evidently the 4-4-2 formation is what many fans would like to see, and can often serve a purpose — although it pays to be tactically fluid, given the propensity to be overrun in midfield. But given the additions of Tyler Blackett and Cyrus Christie as wing-backs, and Loïc Mbe Soh and McKenna in the centre of defence, maybe Lamouchi is considering a 3-5-2 formation which would allow for the pairing of Grabban and Taylor upfront?
Friday’s game against Huddersfield may or may not answer some of these questions. But knee-jerk decisions remain unwise at this time, Lamouchi deserves some patience — but he knows he needs results.