OPINION: ‘Nottingham Forest must learn from Oliver Burke debacle with next wave of academy graduates’

Tommy Rowe slides in on Oliver Burke.
Doncaster Rovers v Nottingham Forest. EFL Cup 1st round.  9 August 2016.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Tommy Rowe slides in on Oliver Burke. Doncaster Rovers v Nottingham Forest. EFL Cup 1st round. 9 August 2016. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Teenage wonder kid Ben Brereton must not be allowed to go the same way as Oliver Burke - it’s time Nottingham Forest invested in themselves for once.

Despite having only made three substitute appearances for the reds, the youngster is already linked with a possible £6 million deal with Liverpool.

That is crazy when you consider that he is yet to complete a full 90 minutes.

For me, this would feel personal, just as it did when Burke was shoved out of the club back in August 2016.

The reason is the same because like Oliver, I have watched Ben progress from the under 18s, to the 21s and 23s. That’s why I encourage people to get down to the Nigel Doughty academy and see what we have coming through.

Ben Brereton is a special talent and a natural born goalscorer, he hit four the first time I clapped eyes on him back in 2015.

Due to the continued success of Nottingham Forest’s academy, thanks to Gary Brazil, the rest of Europe is now paying close attention to the abundance of talent within. Matty Cash has recently been linked with an identical fee to RB Leipzig, the club where Oliver Burke went.

The thing that worries me most is that Fawaz Al-Hasawi remains in charge of the club.

He forced Burke out of the club to make a pretty penny, without a sell on clause in sight it must be said. This must never be allowed to happen again and especially just six months’ after the departure of the young Scotsman.

It’s funny how we view the conduct of Nottingham Forest’s owner. Some still perceive him to have the best interests of the club at heart, the same people that said selling Oliver Burke was good business.

Good business is not to be had by selling an undeveloped protégée; it is quite the opposite in fact. Do you pay almost £30 per game to watch business men, or £500 a season to secure a seat in the board room?

No, of course you don’t.

You pay your entrance fees to watch football; the clue is in the second letter F of NFFC. Us fans work hard all week to earn our ticket money and the least we can ask is for the owner to retain the young talent and nurture them into the first team.

It’s a knock-on effect, and it’s certainly not rocket science.

It’s a fact that the team performed better with Burke in the side, winning five of our opening seven in all competitions. So, by protecting your assets and allowing them to apply their talents in your own team, you will find the club further up the division and talking about a play-off challenge.

If you then get promoted, your star player’s value will double and then and only then would you call it good business.

As for Ben Brereton, he has very similar attributes to Oliver Burke. He is a big lad despite his tender years and will broaden out in the very same way given time. It seemed too easy for him at U18s level and I then went to see him for the U21s last year. There he looked to have found his standard and looked on par with his teammates for a while.

However, he has worked hard and looks to have added a yard of pace to his game as well as filling out more. He was electric in the U23s matches I watched this season, even in the goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday.

His record speaks for itself and the nation were able to witness his eye for goal as he wowed the Sky TV cameras with his last-minute winner against Aston Villa. He made his first senior goal look relatively easy but if you watch it again, it’s but a half chance. Few would have acted so quickly to anticipate the knock down from Assombalonga, let alone take the shot on the volley at the first time of asking.

I heard people say that the keeper was at fault but it was the fact that Brereton took his chance so instinctively that Johnstone was caught cold in the Villa goal.

In all fairness, Liverpool were sniffing around the young starlet before he came to prominence in the Forest senior team. There is talk of interest from Manchester United also but we cannot allow the same mistake to happen again.

Brereton must stay and be allowed to improve in a Forest shirt, along with his fellow graduates like Matty Cash and Joe Worrall. A factor that will be crucial to him staying will be the continuation of Gary Brazil and Jack Lester as managers until the end of the season at least. Under their guidance and stewardship both, Ben Brereton and the team in general will flourish.