Nottingham Forest’s Chris Cohen might not have played much football over the years following a string of serious knee injuries but his performance during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Derby County, highlighted just how important he is to the football club.
Cohen played for just under an hour in the middle of the park and his withdrawal started an alarming unravelling, which saw the Reds lose the initiative and pass the momentum firmly over to their East Midlands counterparts.
In truth Forest had not really looked like conceding during the first hour. The energetic Cohen was everywhere, possessing the kind of spirit you want from your midfield in the heat of a derby-day battle.
At times during the first-half the ex-West Ham United player made George Thorne look distinctly ordinary and never gave him a moments rest when he received the ball.
If Cohen continues to work on his fitness and hold down a regular place in the middle of the park, it starts to ask a question of where Henri Lansbury will slot in once he recovers from his injury. On current form you certainly wouldn’t drop Cohen.
One of the first things Forest should do in the summer is remove the armband from Matt Mills’ arm and place it firmly back on Cohen. Nothing against Mills but I always think a captain should be someone who the fans look up to, someone who values the badge which sits proudly upon his chest. Cohen epitomises that attitude.
Whilst it was alarming to see just how much we struggled once Cohen was withdrawn, I still feel that the Reds were mightily unlucky not to earn a share of the spoils at the weekend, although the lack of cutting edge in the final third was telling once again.
For all of Derby’s wealth which was scattered all over the field, Dorus de Vries had a relatively quiet afternoon and you would have to say that the Rams are, like Forest, lacking a bit of identity at present.
All the talk at the moment is about how the season is now over for Forest but I don’t agree. When a new manager is appointed in the summer, he will want to know who was up for the fight of playing for some pride for Nottingham Forest and who opted to down tools. The latter will be deemed surplus to requirements for next season.
Between now and the end of the season I want to see 11 players step onto the pitch and give their all to put points on the board for the team, not players who are already looking forward to putting their feet up in the Bahamas in a few weeks time.
Chris Cohen’s return to his best is finally in motion and everyone associated with Nottingham Forest will have their fingers crossed that this time it is for the long haul.