Forest have given themselves a huge shot in the arm towards survival this season with a wonderful hat trick from Radoslaw Majewski. The previously much maligned Majewski that is, and I as much as anyone has been a harsh critic of the Polish midfielder.
It seems now that Steve Cotterill has now found a suitable role for Majewski and will be looking to utilise him in this role effectively. This free role behind the striker but free from many of the normal midfield responsibilities plays to the strengths of Radi. He is not and will never been an effective midfield partner due to his lightweight nature and can’t tackle very well at all, when he tries.
Pushing him into a role which leaves Blackstock alone up front can be frustrating formation as it leaves the striker often exiled on his own up front. This is however why it is mostly used away, and it means we got bodies back. But then it works best when you have McCleary and Guedioura in the midfield as well, as these players initial thought upon gaining possession is to charge forward and counter attack at speed. The perfect away game style. Reidy too is there to support in an attacking context. It leaves the likes of Moussi to play their defensive midfielder role without having to have much in the way of thought to supporting the more attacking aspects.
Not quite in the Deschamps water carrier role, but more a de Jong type destroyer, not without his attacking responsibilities mind. Finally the midfield has balance and shape it lacked before. Greening couldn't play these roles effectively and McGugan can’t seem to motivate himself to play the Radi role, (which he was clearly earmarked for, hence the no.10 shirt) which Cotterill had tried him in earlier. Neither Radi nor McGugan make effective wide men, as it’s not their position. McCleary and Reid are wingers through and through so they can play it well. Even last year when we played well we had Anderson on one wing and often had to use Cohen on the other. Cohen would play this role in a Gudeioura role, although maybe not as effectively.
It came to bare wonderfully at Selhurst Park, where we ran out winners against Palace in a game up which that point looked finely balanced. Majewski was able to roam around and that’s why his goals came from all 3 sides. His first from the left wing, where he cut inside and lashed home, his second a centrally curved shot and his third came from the right hand side. This alone illustrates the new freedom this has given him and how he can now play. Before hand playing in a midfield duo in the middle simple didn't get the best from him as his defensive side had to be included so you lost an effective body in the middle which invited the opposition on.
Consider as well that oppositions have been focussing on stopping McCleary has he was the form man and it freed up even more space for the rest of the midfield and in particular Majewski.
Now with him freed up and Guedioura and Moussi playing the deeper role it allows more freedom. It is very much a style de rigeur at the moment. Using amore advance midfielder as support with attacking wide men, not too dissimilar from many of the top sides in Europe. It took time for us to get the right bodies to play it. Blackstock, the perfect foil to hold the ball up, in a way Tudgay and Miller haven’t been able, and certainly not Derbyshire. It has also bought the best out McCleary encouraged to rampage forward more and not worry as much with covering his full back as now we have two deeper sitting midfielders to cover that role. Reidy has been given more freedom too.
So all those who have suggested that it shows Cotterill was wrong. Well no, it illustrates the fact that as he said, he had a disjointed squad. He couldn’t play players where he wanted to play. When Gunter gets put on the right, we lose some of that verve we have with G-Mac in the team. The final piece in this puzzle was getting Majewski fit and driven and having a fully fit Blackstock back. This has all happened perfectly on schedule to bring us to the brink of survival and has shown that yes, we do have a good enough squad.
There were and are still lapses that stop us being a very good team. The defence still not off and allow other teams to attack. Thankfully this was mostly after we had the lead at Palace but they still had chances at 0-0 that might have seen a different result. Many had discussed removing Radi at half time apparently, putting on a more recognised striker. The problem with a sole striker is that the onus on him to win possession from long punts means more often than not the ball starts coming back, with the packed midfield though, there are more bodies to win in and cut passes out and starts the attack from there. A second striker to help win the ball doesn’t allow for that. Both systems have benefits and away from home this is proving perfect. Now we need to work at home too or another system to do so on Saturday and all but secure survival against Bristol City. Either that or home fans recognise that we don’t HAVE to play 4-4-2. Footballs evolved, so do the fans perceptions.