Q&A With Nottingham Forest

  • February 20, 2015 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/ed5ea

Michael Cleaver answers our questions ahead of the 88th meeting between Nottingham Forest and Bolton, at the City Ground.

Wanderers go into the game on the back of a 4-3 defeat at home to Watford last weekend, while Forest held Blackpool to a 4-4 draw at Bloomfield Road on the same afternoon.

In our latest edition of Q&A, Michael (@xCleaverNFFC) shares his views on Dougie Freedman's appointment as Forest manager, the rise to stardom of Zach Clough and Josh Vela since his departure from Macron Stadium, as well as how Neil Lennon is remembered following a short playing spell with the Reds.

Q: There's only really one place to start. Dougie Freedman - what did you make of the job he did at Bolton, what is your opinion on his appointment at Forest and how do you see the rest of the season panning out?

A: It was a strange one really - he left Crystal Palace, who were 4th in the league, and joined Bolton who were 16th. It started well for him, winning his first game in charge, then his first full month in charge he went undefeated and you only just missed out on the play-offs that season! He did really well, taking the club from 20th to 7th that season.

We were shocked - not at him being announced as our new manager, just the way it happened. We only just sacked Stuart Pearce that night and we brought in Freedman an hour or two later, which shows we had him lined up weeks ago.

But a return of seven points in his first three games is not bad and we are playing much better football. I'll always back any manager but I hope he does well. I've read a lot of comments on Twitter from Bolton fans and you guys don't seem too keen on him!

Q: During his time with Wanderers, Freedman had a habit of returning to his former club - Crystal Palace - and signing a number of players. From our current crop, who would you like to see at the City Ground?

A: Zach Clough? We have had a few decent Clough's at Forest.

He seems to be doing really well after being given his chance by Lennon, which is great to see!

Q: Things started off ever so well under Stuart Pearce, with automatic promotion looking very realistic. What went wrong?

A: The first 10 games we went unbeaten and we finally thought we had found the manager to get us back into the Premier League after so many years of being out of it - and who better than club legend Stuart Pearce.

But things started to slowly break apart after we lost to Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup. We couldn't seem to get a win from anywhere and we started falling down the league. We were playing boring unattractive football and something had to change, sadly. It was heartbreaking that it never worked out because I don't think I'll ever see a stadium full of fans being behind and loving a manager as much as Forest did to Stuart, even after not winning in 20 games!

In my opinion, I had to use my head and not my heart and realise things were not going to change and Stuart had to go. I'm grateful because I never got to see him as a player but I got to as a manager and hear 'Pyscho' chanted around the stadium. I'm also thankful for him treating me to my best ever Derby game, with Ben Osbourn sending everyone of us insane!! But I'll back Dougie and hope he can get us back climbing the table.

Q: Bolton boss Neil Lennon had a brief playing spell with Forest in the 2007/08 campaign. What are your memories of him and how do you rate his ability as a manager?

A: He did and he wasn't too bad of a player. I can remember a few games but he only signed a one-year contract and didn't really get played as much as he should have.

He has done really well at managerial level. No other manager in the Championship can say they have beaten Barcelona in the Champions League can they? He did great at Celtic but they had no decent teams challenging them for the title, so it was always going to be them who won the league every season.

He needed a change and a new challenge and he got one at Bolton. He has done well so far - as well as bringing in some really good seasoned players like Emile Heskey and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

Q: Clough is a name that is fondly remembered in the red half of Nottingham. Bolton have their very own Clough rising to stardom at present - Zach. How much do you know about him and fellow academy graduate Josh Vela, two youngsters who Freedman seemingly didn't rate?

A: How I wish I was born in those days of Clough.

It's always good to see young talent break through into the first team. We have had a few players that have and have done really well. Players like Lewis McGugan, Karl Darlow, Jermaine Jenas and Kris Commons.

Clough and Vela seem like two good youngsters and are grabbing their chance with both hands!

Hopefully Dougie looks at youth like he said in his press conference.

Q: This season's reverse fixture ended in a 2-2 draw back in August. How do you see Saturday's game ending?

A: It will be another tight game. We've been crippled by the injury to Britt Assombalonga. I'm heartbroken for the lad, who will be out for around a year with his knee injury but I think the team are still good enough without him.

Obviously I will want a Forest win and what a game and team for Dougie to get his second home win against!

I'm going to go for 2-1 Forest.

Burnden Aces would like to thank Michael for taking the time to answer our questions. You can read more from him on Twitter - @xCleaverNFFC.

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