End of season thoughts — Henshaw Analysis

Well, 2020/21, another season has ended and it’s been another one impacted by the pandemic and a rollercoaster of a season for my team, Nottingham Forest.

The season has largely been underwhelming for many reasons: Forest underperforming, the Championship being dominated by relegated Premier League sides and not being able to get to a live football match. However, there are still many reasons to reflect positively on the past eight months.

Firstly, it’s been a great time for development, personally speaking. In October I started to put more time and effort into my Henshaw Analysis. This was a great decision as it’s been a source of enjoyment and focus and has helped me get through the global pandemic.

As a result of my twitter getting a small following, I’ve had some great opportunities which have enabled me to do additional analysis work with players, a club and some football agencies; all of which have helped me develop my knowledge and my analytical skills. However, this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many great people in the football analytics community along with the support and guidance of those who have offered me the amazing opportunities discussed above.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to dip my toe into writing some football articles centred around analysis for Sporting Life. This has been another fantastic opportunity which has helped my writing and enabled me to better describe my analytical thoughts. Thank you to Joe Townsend for this.

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who has liked, retweeted, commented and just generally engaged with me throughout this season. It’s been fantastic and I can’t wait for a busy summer, and for next season already.

Nottingham Forest Thoughts

As I’ve said above it’s largely been a disappointing season for Forest. A change of manager has seen Chris Hughton take over from Sabri Lamouchi, a decision I believed was correct, and indeed still do.

There has been some improvement under Hughton, defensively we’re more solid and I feel that particularly with Worrall and McKenna we have a strong foundation. Christie, despite not having a great start at Forest, has come on leaps and bounds. Most fans would like to see a permanent deal I feel, however with Fulham’s imminent relegation back to the Championship, coupled with them having an option to extend Christie’s contract, it seems he is likely to stay in London.

Left back has been an area of concern. Ribeiro’s performances have been inconsistent. Bong and Blackett have had mixed performances when they’ve come into the side, and realistically are steady squad players at this level. Nicholas Ioannou joined Aris on loan in January, he’s someone I’d like to see given a chance again come the summer. I feel he could offer a lot with his athleticism and creative ability. However, it’s believed he is enjoying his time in Greece and is open to extending his stay there.

In the midfield it has been an utter joy to watch James Garner play. The young Manchester United loanee has shown both his technical ability and his eye for goal chipping in with four goals. His effort against Preston on the final day of the season was probably his best. A great effort from 30+ yards. One we have to try and keep on loan again next season.

Elsewhere in midfield, Yates has had a steady season. He’s really shown his box to box capabilities but his passing still needs some improvement. If he can start converting some of the great chances he’s had this season, he’ll be a real threat. Cafu, who signed permanently as the transfer window closed at the beginning of February has shown promise in parts, and looks better suited to a defensive midfield role.

The transfer of Harry Arter has to be described as very poor and represents severe short term thinking. He’s now a player who Forest are looking to move on, but that might be difficult considering he signed a three year deal last summer, and he won’t be on small wages….

Filip Krovinović has added a lot to the team though and has played a lot since his loan at West Brom was cancelled to join Forest. A player with obvious quality and ability. He’s also shown versatility in that he can play out wide, and he helps the team defend from the front. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with him.

Looking at the wingers, again it’s been a story of inconsistency. Lolley and Ameobi have been in and out the side with injuries. Freeman’s loan hasn’t really worked out. Knockaert has shown the occasional glimpse of quality, and is another who has suffered with not being able to do it on a regular basis. Seeing Mighten getting more minutes has been a positive though, having managed three goal involvements in his proper breakthrough season. It’ll be exciting to see how he gets on next season.

Finally the forwards, again a mixed bag really. Grabban, who finishes the season as top goalscorer with just six goals, has suffered some niggling injuries this season. Lyle Taylor who started just his second game in three and a half months on the final day of the season appears to be down the pecking order under Hughton. Then Glenn Murray, who signed a short term deal in January, came in and scored a couple of goals against relegated side, Wycombe Wanderers. Apart from this he didn’t really put up any trees and dropped out of the side once Grabban returned fully fit.

It’s going to be a really important summer for Forest and one they need to get right. With a number of players out of contract, and plenty with only a year left, some big decisions are going to be made. With the talk of a new data-lead recruitment team headed up by George Syrianos, I am hopeful that Forest is moving in the right direction to benefit the club.

Final Thoughts

The Championship hasn’t been great this year, it’s been dominated by two clubs relegated from the Premier League, and they’re going to bounce straight back up.

Barnsley have been a pleasure to watch though. They are a perfect example of why a having a clear philosophy and an outlined style of play, which is backed by everyone at the club is massive. Couple this with a data-led recruitment process and you’ve got an excellent combination.

Wycombe Wanderers also deserve a shout here, to finish 22nd on their budget, really is a big achievement. Much like Barnsley it just shows you don’t need to have the biggest of budgets to surpass expectations in the league, and this is a huge testament to Gareth Ainsworth. It will be interesting to see where his career goes from here.

Rotherham, well I honestly believe they left Derby off the hook on the final day of the season. They’ve had ample opportunities to not be in the bottom three, and even on the final day, despite leading up until the 88th minute, they conceded. It’s a real shame as I think Paul Warne is a fantastic manager, but it appears multiple COVID outbreaks, and subsequently a slight change in their pressing ability has ultimately cost the team their place in the division.

But that’s it until next season, where the drama, excitement and entertainment will all begin again. Enjoy the summer, and keep your eyes pealed for more Henshaw Analysis content.

If you’ve made it this far I hope you enjoyed this ramble about my thoughts on the season. If you did enjoy it please jump over to twitter and drop me a follow for more content @HenshawAnalysis.

Henshaw Analysis — Analysing NFFC, EFL and EPL