Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka demonstrated his determination to turn the club’s fortunes around with a dynamic transfer deadline day.
Forest signed no fewer than six players on January 31st, with goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, arriving on loan from Watford, and Iranian international free agent midfielder Ashkan Dejagah leading the way.
As the 11pm deadline neared, a string of captures was confirmed. Winger Joe Lolley was secured from Huddersfield Town for an undisclosed fee, whilst midfielder Lee Tomlin came in from Cardiff City in a loan swap deal with Jamie Ward moving in the opposite direction.
Newcastle’s Jack Colback agreed a loan, and fellow midfielder Adlene Guedioura of Middlesbrough also switched to the City Ground, returning to the club he left almost four years ago on a two-and-half year deal.
Ben Watson was expected to be the eighth signing of the window after his Watford contract was terminated, with The Reds having already secured Sporting Lisbon centre-back Tobias Figueiredo for the rest of the season.
Forest did suffer some frustration in their bid to sign former academy graduate Michael Dawson. Now 34, he started his career at Forest before moving to Tottenham in 2005, and reportedly was in Nottingham to sign a two-and-a-half year deal.
However, Dawson’s parent club Hull City blocked the move, although he could still sign in the summer as a free agent.
24 hours is a long time…
So why the late flurry of transfer activity on the banks of the River Trent?
Just 24 hours, earlier Forest fans has been left embarrassed and distraught by their team’s abject 3-0 loss at home to Preston. Karanka, appointed on January 8th, called it the “worst moment” of his career.
The Spaniard questioned the commitment of the players, and showed his desire to bring success back to Forest with his ruthless deadline day dealings.
For the first time in a long time, an uncompromising message was sent to the squad: you either want to play for this club or you can go.
And it seems some did want to go, with Mustapha Carayol moving to Ipswich having had his contract terminated, Portsmouth snapping up Stephen Henderson on loan, and Matt Mills leaving to join Barnsley.
Ward went as part of the Tomlin swap deal, and Tyler Walker and Zach Clough both made loan moves to Bolton Wanderers.
The squad was too big, and chopping and changing between so many players meant inconsistency. Karanka has attempted to cut out the deadwood while adding quality.
For all the talk of Forest’s revolving door for managers in recent seasons, it had become apparent to supporters that it’s the players on the pitch who were bringing the club down.
Ben Osborn apologised on Twitter for the Preston shambles, but not many of his team-mates seemed to care as they succumbed in dismal fashion – and not for the first time this season.
Karanka has pledged to revive the two-time European champions, and is setting about changing the entire ethos at the club.
The former Real Madrid defender has shown he will not stand for excuses and poor performances – perhaps unlike his predecessors.
‘Karanka can see the issues and he isn’t afraid to address them, as his mass overhaul has shown’
Not since 2011, when Forest twice finished in the play-offs in two seasons under Billy Davies, have The Reds had a really good campaign, and they flirted with a disastrous relegation to League One last year.
Supporters wanted to see a team making progress under Mark Warburton this season, but in truth Forest weren’t good enough, with too many at the club seemingly accepting it.
A lot of these problems originated under former owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi, but it looks as if his successor Evangelos Marinakis is serious about solving them.
Karanka can see the issues and he isn’t afraid to address them, as January’s mass overhaul has shown.
Forest also rebuffed a £12m offer from Burnley for star defender Joe Worrall – something that probably would have been accepted under the old regime.
That defiance was welcomed by the fans, as is Karanka’s no-nonsense style. He knows how to get promoted, as he did with Middlesbrough, and it seems he will do whatever he feels necessary to get Forest contending for a place in the top flight.
It seems Forest have finally got the right manager – and one who will return the club’s ethos to a winning mentality.
Feature image courtesy of Diego Sideburns via Flickr Creative Commons