Where Does de Vries Signing Leave Darlow?

I guess we should firstly welcome Dorus de Vries to Nottingham Forest. He has a rich pedigree in getting teams promoted what with his period at Swansea (let's just leave that Wolves period alone) and welcome the Dutchman to the club. De Vries joins a successful band of Dutch forest players, from Pierre van Hooijdonk, Bryan Roy and Johnny Metgod through to previous Dutch keepers Hans van Breukelen (who after leaving us had huge success at PSV and with Holland) and Hans Segers (who was involved in match fixing scandals at Wimbledon).

This adds an experienced keeper to our trio of relatively inexperienced keepers. Darlow has a half a season at best, al-Rashidi has never played in a top league and Evtimov is still completely untried. Therefore for no fee it’s not a bad signing.

Where the debate and contention comes in is what will his role will be. There was a Twitter rumour from a relatively obscure source who claimed de Vries was demanding to be the no. 1. This would relegate the very popular Darlow to the bench you’d suspect. But as I said in the rumour round up, Darlow is a young keeper, young keepers often go through a dodgy spell, and do we really want to try al-Rashidi in a potential keeping crisis? All well and good trialling in the Carling Cup, but blooding him potentially in a tough run of fixtures? Very risky.

Now if Darlow does remain number 1, we have a very capable stand in who we know can be trusted. And vice versa if de Vries is number 1, we know Darlow can be trusted, but its where this put Darlow. What will he personally feel? Hurt? Betrayed? Unloved? Maybe all three, but I’m sure Billy if this is the case will have told him he sees him as the long term heir apparent, and to learn from de Vries in the mean time.

Because for a young keeper advice and education will be key, he has had half a season in the first team, which will stand him in good stead, but maybe a short while watching and learning again might be good. There is no better education though than practice and experience, and at 22 it’s the age he should be establishing himself. That’s where my next point comes in.

Darlow has settled in the first team, he made the no. 1 jersey his own. And there was little real competition. Maybe he needs someone to push him on, to make sure he keeps improving and retains that shirt. We all saw what complacency did with Camp, and anyone in football needs to know his place is not assured so that they don’t get lazy, and stay driven. This could be a clever way from Davies of making sure Darlow remains driven, and pushes him harder.

Davies is usually quite clever with youngsters breaking through, that he keeps them believing they haven’t made it. He got the best of McGugan, it was him that ironed out most of Wes Morgan’s creases in his game (remember how mistake prone he was under Megson etc) and how he took faltering Premiership youngsters Gunter and Anderson and got them firing in our first team.

So all in all however this works out it could be good for Darlow, either as something to keep him on his toes, or a challenge to up his game further. I hope he doesn’t take the Kieron freeman approach of simply seeing a challenge for his position as insult and turning on his heels and running to a smaller club for regular football. If Darlow see’s this like that, then it won’t be good for all parties, but I’m sure Forest will have assured him this will be good for his ongoing development.