The Case For and Against...Garath McCleary

As with many of our other fringe players, we have run a series of debates on in the Forest forum on Soccer 24-7, we have been discussing the pros and cons of Garath McCleary.

The Case For

"23 year old McCleary is a potential Forest legend and is probably the most naturally talented player on the Nottingham Forest roster.
No, I haven't been permenantly brain-damaged by the seven gallons of Captain Morgan I managed on new years eve - McCleary really is that exciting a prospect. He has enjoyed a meteoric rise from non-league Bromley and now plays in one of the highest standard leagues in the world, against international class players. This is an outstanding achievement - how often do players get pulled into professional outfits, having to change their whole lives and up their game to such an extent? It's very rare indeed, and naturally it has taken a while for G-Mac to come to grips with the professional game, where he is required to do more than one thing.
To watch him play, it's obvious why G-Mac was recruited - when on the ball McCleary is arguably the most exciting player to watch at Forest. With the ball at his feet he's very dangerous and has the rare ability (at this level) to consistently beat players one on one, and he's not shy of trying it. Others such as Anderson have been reluctant to lose the ball, but McCleary has no such fears and it's something we all like to see. This raw talent is something not to be sniffed at.
Anyone argueing against him must surely go down the line of McCleary's abilty to disappear when Forest don't have the ball, and it's a fair point. When we're in the defensive phase of play he hasn't done his job in the past - one of a wingers most important jobs is actually defending and suporting his full back, and G-Mac at times dosen't. However I'd counter this by saying 1) Our whole midfield, McKenna excepted, has been guilty of disappearing in the past. At times the skipper has been playing midfield on his own, Majewski, McGugan & Anderson are all particularly prone to this. It's unfair to single McCleary out for this, and most players in this league aren't good in every situation. There are very few proper midfielders like McKenna around.
2) McCleary has recently shown signs of improving this shortcoming. I was surprised at how he performed against Cardiff for instance, no one can claim he didn't do his defensive job in that game. This shows he's learnng and I'm sure he'll continue to do so at Forest (it's clear they're teaching them how to defend, Anderson's game is evolving in this way aswell).
G-Mac is only 23, and has been at a professional club for a couple of years - his development is bound to be behind lads who've been under professional guidence since the were 14/15, he will develop later than usual and he'll keep improving for several years yet. He's far from the fiished article but it's far too early in his career to start writing him off. Maybe he'll be a sucess at this level, if not he'll definetly end up as a lower league legend for some league 1/2 team because the amount of skill he wields will always cause problems offensively.
He's got lots of talent, lets keep him and see if we can train him to use it. It would be a real fairy tale if we could, and we'd all recieve lots of excitement along the way.."

Manic Loop
"The first thing to remember with mccleary is that he is raw. and that is both good and bad. forone its good as heis unknown as a quantity to teams, he runs at people with pace and he tries eveything. theother is thathe is now been with us anumber of years and doesnt seem to quite prgress. ill be honest i like him as a player, hes one ofmy favourites, because i was a right winger as a kid. he tries to get past his man o to the flank, but like many others he blindly runs into areas and only then looks up, if he does at all before crossing. at this level you need to have more awareness.
For one defensively he is poor. he doesnt cover or track back. he is an impact player to bring on when chasing a game, again,that is both a strength and a weakness. we can turn to him when we need something new in a game, but it always means he wont get many starts, because he isnt as good as tracking back as say anderson is."

"I like McCleary, I think he is an excellent impact sub and a great player to have in the squad.
If McCleary starts a game however, he has to be used correctly to get full advantage of him. Take the Barnsley game on Saturday. We were pumping playing long ball after long ball through the centre, almost shutting McCleary out the game and when he had the ball he didn't do a lot with it due to a lack of concentration it seemed.
Now skip back to the Cardiff game in November. It was a funny trip down actually as we watched last season's season review and I said to my mate on the bus, it's about time we gave Garath a game. What do you know, he starts that afternoon and played fantastic. We were playing quick high pressured football with a lot of slick passing and a lot of balls being sprayed out to the wings. The more he saw of the ball, the more he was alert and was prepared to run and rip their left back in two.
IMO I don't think McCleary is played often enough and while Saturday's game against Barnsley didn't do him many favours, I'd stick with him for a few more games. After all it's not fair the likes of Anderson and Tyson have had prolonged runs in the team with little effect this season.
As some one said earlier, McCleary is a raw talent and maybe play time will help him to hone his skills. Hell maybe a loan deal would do the kid a world of good."

The Case Against


"Just "having a go" is just not enough for a top end Championship or prospective Prem players. Mcclearly is a winger and thus I agreee defence is important but he doesn't actually even do the things he is supposed to do i.e. provide an end result which is either goals or assists. He has been at the club for a couple of seasons and so far has only shown occassional glimpses of flair but ultimately no end product. How long do you think we should hang on to him? The club isn't a charitable home for nearly made it professional footballers or a finishing school for non-league players. Times are hard.
The gamble was worth taking and probably hasn't cost us much but it is time for him to play for a Notts County or a Mansfield. As Geo says he would probably be a legend like say Lester has become in his lower league career. We need class now and he ain't it. Time to move on."

"In the barnsley game he hid for large parts of the game, he can be brillant to watch when he is on-song. The problem is that this doesnt happen very often.
I would of thought he will end up being a good league one player becuase at that level you can have a few quiet games and get away with it where as in the championship we cant efford to play him not when you have the likes of McGugan and magic in midfield."

Manic Loop
"i would argue tho that going on toward hopefully the premeier league that there would be no place for him up there, he is too limited a player to go beyond this current level"