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View From The Town End: Chris Hughton ‘Needs Time’ To Turn Nottingham Forest Around

Talking all things Nottingham Forest with Reds writer Lee Clarke.

Derby County v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship - Pride Park Stadium Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

After a rare week off, Reading are back in action on Saturday with a trip to 17th-placed Nottingham Forest. The Reds have endured a poor season since narrowly missing out on the playoffs in 2019/20; although they’ve moved away from the bottom three under new(ish) boss Chris Hughton, they’re still only eight points off the relegation zone.

To get the lowdown on Saturday’s opposition we spoke to Forest writer Lee Clarke, who covers the club for Seat Pitch.

How’s the season gone for you so far?

Shocking in truth. We’re eight points above the relegation zone in arguably the weakest Championship in years. I mean no disrespect to the teams up there as they’re taking their chances with aplomb but I do think it’s a weak league this year.

What have you made of Chris Hughton’s impact since he joined in October?

Well he inherited a really unbalanced squad and it took him some time to get his team playing. The January additions have looked very good and before the last two games, we had lost just once in 14 matches. He needs time to be quite honest. The four players he has recruited have been head and shoulders above anyone else and that should be enough indication that he’s the man to take us forward.

How does he set his team up tactically?

Right now it’s a 4-2-3-1 and there isn’t a lot else to say really. James Garner and Cafu in the midfield both like to spray balls about and our full-backs like to get forward and assist with attacks.

Nottingham Forest v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
James Garner
Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What are the main strengths of this Forest side?

Our defence has been pretty good, particularly since the turn of the year. Scott McKenna could be back on Saturday and that could solidify us even further. Brice Samba in goal is also in pretty decent form.

And weaknesses?

We don’t score anywhere near enough goals. With 12 games left our top scorer has four goals and that simply isn’t good enough. With the likes of Lewis Grabban, Lyle Taylor and Glenn Murray in the ranks as strikers and Anthony Knockaert, Joe Lolley and Sammy Ameobi on the flanks, we should be scoring more goals.

What have you made of Reading this season?

Probably the surprise package of the season after Barnsley for me. Whilst I didn’t fancy Reading to struggle, I didn’t have them in the mix for promotion. On paper, you seem a weird team. Three straight wins after a defeat to the hapless Wycombe. Strange to say the least.

How will the rest of your campaign play out?

I think we’ll just about stay up and given our lack of goals I would snap your arm off for 21st place right now. We just need to be a bit bolder in the final third and I think we’ll be fine.

How will the game on Saturday go, and what will the score be?

We’ve done hopelessly against anyone in the top six this season and Reading will be heavy favourites. We have improved since we played at the Madejski Stadium but whether we’ve improved enough remains to be seen. I will go for a 1-1 draw.