Chris Hughton: Nottingham Forest boss takes responsibility for worst start in 108 years

Chris Hughton has won 14 of his 52 games in charge since taking over 11 months ago as Forest's 12th manager in 10 years
Chris Hughton has won 14 of his 52 games in charge since taking over 11 months ago

Nottingham Forest boss Chris Hughton says they are suffering from "small margins" after the club made its worst start to a season in 108 years.

They have just one point from six Championship matches, the one they gleaned in the 1-1 derby draw at Derby a fortnight ago, and are bottom of the table.

There is growing fan pressure at the City Ground that the two-time European Cup winners should make yet another managerial change, just 11 months after Hughton became their 12th boss in 10 years.

All of Forest's five defeats have been by a single goal - four of them by the same 2-1 margin.

And, just like their opening-weekend defeat at Coventry City, Sunday's reverse at home to Cardiff City, saw them beaten by a late goal having been 1-0 up at half-time.

"It's still small margins," Hughton told BBC Radio Nottingham. "Each game we've lost has been by one goal. It's about turning those margins in our favour. However it happens, we have to find a way to win.

"This is the Championship. Cardiff are as direct a team as you will see. It's not easy, but it's part of the game and you have to be able to cope with it. You need to be strong enough.

"It's not about formations for me at the moment, it's about showing enough quality to break deadlocks and enough resilience to keep clean sheets.

"That means players stepping up to the mark, that means a group of players gelling together and doing enough to get results."

McCarthy backs Hughton

The vastly-experienced former Newcastle United, Birmingham City, Norwich City and Brighton boss, 62, had sympathy from his old Republic of Ireland team-mate Mick McCarthy on Sunday.

"He's my mate and I want to see him in a job," said Cardiff boss McCarthy. "He's done brilliantly wherever he's been. But they've had troubles with Covid and signing players."

Hughton admits he needs more time to bed in his summer signings.

"We have brought players in," said Hughton. "Some have come in very late and we've had not had much chance to work with them.

"But it is my responsibility to integrate them, bring them up to speed as soon as possible and start to get results, starting with Middlesbrough at home on Wednesday night."

Forest have been accused of not creating enough chances or scoring enough goals but Sunday's beautifully-worked opening goal from Lewis Grabban showed just what they are capable of.

"We need more of it to release that pressure," added Hughton. "I don't think anybody could ever accuse us of having a team without enough offensive players."

Hughton added he had to believe results would improve.

"I have a group of players out there and it my responsibility, whichever way we do it, is to get results," he said.

Another managerial change?

Brian Laws made 147 league appearances a Forest player between 1988 and 1994
Brian Laws made 147 league appearances a Forest player between 1988 and 1994

Former Forest favourite Brian Laws, a key part of Brian Clough's side in the late 1980s, and subsequently a manager himself in 869 matches with Grimsby, Scunthorpe United, Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley, was working for BBC Radio Nottingham on Sunday as a match summariser.

He sees both sides of the argument.

"The players didn't give in," said Laws. "They're clearly still there fighting for the manager.

"Hopefully the players he's brought in will bring freshness and fortune to win a game. You can't go changing and getting in a manager who doesn't want those players.

"What is the point? You can't change the players any more. You've done that. You've got to stick with what you've got and give them support.

"But, if the fans start losing their faith, it can spill onto the pitch.

"Chris knows it's a treacherous profession. He could be just one game away from losing his job and that might be the course of action Forest might take.

"Nobody is demanding it's got be done, but they can't go on forever losing games. You've got to try to stop it."

Analysis

David Jackson, BBC Radio Nottingham

When Chris Hughton arrived almost a year ago, Forest had just missed out on the Championship play-offs but had been on a downward trajectory for a few months.

They had signed 15 players in the summer of 2020, which the chairman has since acknowledged was a mistake, and were in a bit of a mess.

Hughton kept them up, but admits he thought he'd have turned their form around more quickly than he did. They never got into any rhythm and have started this season much the same.

The club have changed policy this summer with more attention on younger players, which is Dane Murphy's influence as the new CEO, and they've reduced the wage bill.

They were unable to sign a striker on deadline day despite trying, but while they have some decent players and some with plenty of potential, Brennan Johnson in particular, they're in a rut of results.

The players were clearly trying on Sunday and took a deserved lead with a good goal, but ultimately got bullied by a big Cardiff team, especially when they tired in the second half.

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