Nottingham Forest sign four on deadline day

Generally in the football world it was a low-key January Deadline Day, but not in Nottingham. Nottingham Forest signed forwards Ross McCormack and Zach Clough and also added two midfielders, Joao Teixera and Gboly Ariyibi. McCormack and Teixeira joined on loan until the end of the season, whilst Clough and Ariyibi signed four-and-half-year and three-and-a-half-year deals respectively.

McCormack joins on loan from Aston Villa until the end of the season, following public criticism from his manager Steve Bruce. Whilst his work ethic and fitness levels have been questioned in recent times, there is no doubting McCormack’s ability. The Scotland international has been one of the most lethal strikers in the Championship in recent years and he will be hoping to rediscover his form at the City Ground.

He scored 21 goals in 45 league games in a struggling Fulham side last season which paved the way for a £12m move to Villa in the summer. In his last three seasons (one with Leeds, two with Fulham), McCormack has scored 66 goals in 135 league games.

Since joining Villa though he has managed just 3 goals in 20 games this season, not what the club would have expected given the large fee they spent on bringing him to the club.

Now 30 years of age, McCormack will be need to find form again to secure another big move, should he leave Villa in the summer. If not, bridges will need to be built with Steve Bruce before any return to Villa Park. This is course is dependent on whether Bruce is still at the club come the summer given the side’s struggles of late, after a good start under him. Should a new manager come in, a returning McCormack will probably be given a chance to prove his worth.

Joao Teixeira played 17 league games for Wolves earlier this season and will now see complete a full season in the Championship. Forest took over the loan deal from Wolves and they will hope he can add a vital creative spark.

Teixeira has played 80 games for Benfica B, but made just one appearance for the first team. That one appearance came in the Champions League, so he has played on the biggest stage in club football.

In addition, Teixeira has played five games for Vitoria Guimaraes on loan and also represented Portugal from under-15's all the way up to the under-21's.

The good news for Forest is that he already has the taste for English football so should settle in fairly quickly. Gary Brazil and his coaching staff will be hoping he can help supply his newly bolstered attack.

Forest finally got themselves a Clough. Zach joined for an undisclosed fee which has been reported to be around £2.5m. On the face of it looks a great bit of business for the 21-year old.

Clough who can also be used as an attacking midfielder, scored 21 goals in 58 games whilst at Bolton, which is impressive given the state of the club of late. Bolton were relegated from the Championship last season, but in his first two seasons with the club, Clough managed 12 goals in 36 games. His 5 goals in 8 games in the 2014/15 season was a great start to his senior career and Forest will be hoping he gets off to a similar start Trent-Side.

In League One this season, Clough was directly involved in 15 goals (9 goals, 6 assists) in 22 appearances. With Britt Assombalonga likely to keep his place in the side and McCormack joining, it wouldn’t be that unlikely to see Clough drop into that attacking midfield role or start games on the bench for the time being.

Either way he looks to be a great coup, for a club in desperate need of good news. Forest beat Rotherham 2-0 last night to move up to 18th in the table, and will be hoping Clough can help them continue climbing the table.

Ariyibi looks an interesting prospect.  Coming through the ranks at Southampton as a youngster he was in the same youth side as the likes of Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse, so the future looked bright for Aryibi. Unfortunately, Mauricio Pochettino decided to release him in 2013, before Leeds United took a chance on the young American.

Ariyibi made just two substitute appearances for Leeds in the 2013/14 season with his debut coming against Forest, alongside McCormack.

The USA Under-23 International was then sent on loan to Tranmere Rovers in March 2014 for the remainder of the season. He again played just two games whilst at Tranmere and he was subsequently released by Leeds in May that year.

In August 2014, Ariyibi signed a 12-month contract with League One side Chesterfield after reportedly turning down a move to Premier League side, Burnley. The winger obviously felt game time was important, making Chesterfield a more appealing prospect.

Given the fact that Leeds only gave him a deal until the end of the season and Chesterfield only committed to an initial 12-month contract (which was extended in March 2015 until this summer), it is perhaps a surprise that Forest have shown a lot more faith with a three-and-a-half-year deal.

Now with around 100 league games in English football under his belt, maybe the time was right though for a longer deal. The talent is clearly there as emphasised by Gary Caldwell when he first joined as manager of Chesterfield. He was quoted saying “I think [with] the talent he’s got he can be anything he wants to be”. “He’s got a great physique, just turned 22 and I’m really looking forward to working with him”.

He’s clearly got work to do, scoring just 4 goals so far in his career but given his age, time is most definitely on his side. Maybe the faith shown in him by a club like Forest will give him the motivation he needed to kick on and realise his potential.

Forest fans would have also been hoping for defensive reinforcements given the amount of goals shipped this season, however since Brazil has been placed in temporary charge the Reds’ have kept two clean sheets in three games. This matches the total amount kept during Phillipe Montanier’s 30-game reign. In the three games under Brazil, Forest have beat Bristol City and Rotherham at home, 1-0 and 2-0 respectively but suffered a 0-2 away defeat to Leeds.

The club did try to bring back former captain Luke Chambers from Ipswich Town, but could not get the deal across the line.

Deadline day for Forest has to be considered a great success especially amidst the negativity surrounding the club’s current ownership.

 

Ben Osborn - Future captain of Nottingham Forest

Now of course the title is opinionated and not fact. The next manager that comes in might not share my sentiments, that's not lost on me. What's also not lost on me is Osborn's suitability for the role.

Nottingham Forest are in disarray, there's no denying that, and playing captain, Henri Lansbury joining Aston Villa earlier this week only added to their troubles.

In yesterday's 1-0 home win over Bristol City, experienced centre-back, Matt Mills took the armband. On reflection, it's hard to deny he was the natural choice. Mills has been a regular feature in the side, knows the league and is very vocal on the pitch. Whether he is in the changing room is another matter,  although I'm sure he is. Mills has however been part of and defence which kept their first clean-sheet at the City Ground since March 2016.

This isn't all down to Mills, although he will be the first to admit his form hasn't matched that of his first season with Forest. He made 42 appearances for the club during the 2015/16 season, adding a helpful 5 goals. Under Phillipe Montanier, the squad was constantly rotated, much to the annoyance of Forest's huge fan base.

Sometimes rotation is necessary, especially as a new manager as you want to see your full squad. Unfortunately for Montanier, he tinkered too much. He did some good things though. He gave first-team starts to academy graduates, Matty Cash and Joe Worrall, both of whom will be hoping to follow in Osborn's footsteps.

This brings me nicely back round to Osborn. A proud graduate of the ever productive, Nottingham Forest academy , Osborn has since gone on to make over 100 senior appearances for the club.

Growing up in Derbyshire, to a family of Derby County fans it must have been hard to transition to Forest - well if it was, he hides it well. After being released by his boyhood club, he joined rivals, Forest at the age of 9 and has not looked back since.

In his first season with the under-18's he was predominantly used as a left-back. He was named Academy Player of the Season that year, which brought his attention to the first team management.

Gary Brazil who took over as Careraker Manager back in March 2014 gave Osborn a shot in the first team due to injuries, notably to then first-team left-back, Gonzalo Jara. It was midfield however that Osborn was given his chance to shine and shine he did. He went on to make eight appearances for the first team that season which earned him a new five-year contract.

Since then, barring injuries and a small period where Dougie Freedman left him out of the side due to a lack of form, Osborn has been virtually ever-present.

Whether Osborn lines up on the left-hand side of midfield, centre-midfield or as a striker, he shows the same commitment. At 5ft 9, and under 12 stone, Osborn isn't your typical striker, but he has the heart and technical ability to play wherever he is asked.

Playing as Britt Assombalonga's strike-partner against Ipswich Town back in November, Osborn impressed. He didn't score but he did set up Assombalonga within the first minute of the game, with a perfectly weighted through ball after a mistake from an Ipswich defender and was a genuine nightmare for the defence for much of the game.

Basically, Osborn is the perfect team player. No matter the position or role he is asked to play, he plays at 100% every time, full of pride.

A captain is meant to lead by example, something Osborn does, a captain is to be relied on, something Osborn can be and a captain is also meant to be vocal, something Osborn is.

He is however vocal at the right times. On the field and no doubt the changing room but never in the press. During such difficult times for the club he has not once spoken out of turn, something that should be admired.

If Osborn is not captain material I don't know who is. To make over 100 appearances for the first-team at just 22 years of age is an achievement in itself. To make those with the maturity of a veteran player is an entirely different prospect altogether.

When he steps on the field, you know what you're going to get from Osborn, if nothing else you're going to get energy. It's this sort of energy that galvansises a whole team, even during crisis.

Look at Osborn's winner from yesterday's game v Bristol City and it will prove that he doesn't only have commitment, energy and heart but also technical ability in abundance.He has come a long way since scoring the 92nd minute winner against rivals (and his boyhood club) Derby back in February 2015.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu2QgpRTYSY

Although he won't want to be remembered solely for that goal, a goal against Derby is the perfect way to win the hearts of the Forest fan base, something he continues to do.

Forest will be desperate to keep hold of the talismanic Osborn and giving him the captain's armband would be a massive incentive.