Awoniyi/Dennis: Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest potpourri needs his Nigerian spice
At least 22 players were signed by Nottingham Forest during the transfer window with six others joining on loan from different clubs in the world
Premier League experience, raw desire for impact, a foreign expression of football skill, grit, sauce and talent have all been brought to The City Ground this season but results have been seen in almost complete opposition to investment.
Not many have hailed the wisdom and idea behind signing a complete set of first team and squad players at the club especially when it’s considered that only 18 players make it on a league matchday.
Nottingham Forest are not only difficult for the manager to tinker with, the club has placed Steve Cooper in a difficult position by acquiring a large amount of players and will have many disgruntled personnel seeking opportunities at the same time.
For various reasons, these opportunities may not be forthcoming as the coach has his style and choice of players and can only work with a number of them.
Emmanuel Dennis and Taiwo Awoniyi sparked different range of excitements amongst the club’s fans when they were brought in. While both players have proven strengths and quality, they haven’t shone greatly so far, but have shown flashes of what can be if given opportunities.
Awoniyi fights for every sight of a floating round object. He’s a footballer who makes up for his inadequate skill with efforts. Although the first weeks of the Premier League have been humbling, he shows with every opportunity that he can be a real deal for the club and the fans feel the same.
Nottingham Forest have skillful runners in Dennis, Jesse Lingard and Morgan Gibbs-White. These are players whom Awoniyi can make even more productive with his high energy and strength. What he lacks in raw football skills and the ability to beat a man, he possesses in his desire to fight and stick it in. These runners around him can benefit greatly from his relentless industry.
Against West Ham, where he scored Forest’s first Premier League goal in 23 years, his industry made him a beneficiary of rare fortunes as he fought, battered and ran the channels.
There’s a lot to improve in Awoniyi, in terms of positioning, timing of runs and decision-making, but sitting him consistently in favour of a more flashy and smooth attacking style may put paid to Forest’s chances of survival.
Currently sitting 19th on the log, and with -10 goal difference, the second worst in the league, the acquisitions made have not directly impacted on results. The argument is that it takes time to build a solid team from a list of talented recruits but the choices so far made will also open a lot of questions.
Dennis, on his Premier League debut scored 10 goals and assisted 6, contributing about half of Watford’s goals. That’s a huge experience in the bag, despite spending just one season.
With the acquisition of Serge Aurier, the presence of Willy Boly and other players in the squad, Nottingham Forest must build to be a team that will be frustrating to face.
Cooper has gems in his hands and must think of a variety of solutions to arrest their slump, including exploring his Nigerian options in a different light. May is not so far away in reality, and the boots are already up in the Premier League.
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