Nottingham Forest kicked off their domestic pre-season campaign with a disappointing draw with League Two outfit Oldham Athletic, in a game which left boss Aitor Karanka with more questions than answers ahead of the new campaign.
The Reds hit the front after three minutes when Matty Cash drilled an effort beyond the outstretched arm of a trialist goalkeeper and although they held the lead at the interval they needed a late Lewis Grabban goal to avoid defeat in the North West.
Forest face a trip to Scunthorpe United on Wednesday night before entertaining Premier League Bournemouth at the City Ground on Saturday and Karanka will be extremely keen to see a vast improvement from his charges in their final two friendly games.
The Spanish boss blasted his players after the game at Boundary Park and the performance leaves the new-look Reds with plenty of work to do before the season starts in just under two weeks time.
In the aftermath of the 2-2 draw, here are three things we learned from the share of the spoils…
Defensive frailties remain
One of Nottingham Forest’s big problems in recent years has been conceding soft goals from set-pieces and the problematic issue reared its ugly head once again in the 2-2 draw with Oldham.
The signing of Michael Dawson will be a great signing for Forest and the dilemma for Aitor Karanka will be to now determine who partners the 33-year-old on a regular basis once the season kicks-off.
Joe Worrall and Thomas Lam both partnered the veteran on Saturday and with Danny Fox and Tobias Figueiredo to come back into the fray, the decision looks like being a tough one for Karanka to make.
João Carvalho looks like being a big signing
It is impossible to judge a player on one performance, particularly against opposition from two leagues lower, but it is safe to say already that Forest’s record signing looks like being a quality addition to Forest’s team.
With time running out for Forest to find an equaliser, Carvalho skipped past two defenders and lofted a delicate ball onto the boot of Lewis Grabban who couldn’t miss from six yards out, demonstrating his pace, skill and precision.
The Championship is a tough league for foreigners to adapt to but Carvalho looks like being the sort of player who always wants to get on the ball and make things happen and that aspect can only bode well for Forest.
Aitor Karanka demands perfection from his team
Instead of stringing out the usual clichés often said by managers after a pre-season friendly, Karanka opted to slam his players for their poor preparation and basically told his under-performing stars to get their act together before the season commences.
In an interview with the Nottingham Post, the Forest boss said:
“Sometimes it is good to have games like today, so that you realise that every game is difficult. This is a game and a performance from which we have to learn a lot.
“When you need so many chances to score goals in the warm-up, when there is no opponent – and it takes you 10 minutes for you to score a goal, imagine how difficult it will be with an opponent.”
“If you do not go to the pitch 100 percent concentrated, you will miss chances, you will make bad passes.”
“The first half was a reflection of our warm-up.”
The quotes are not stereotypical of a football manager and Forest’s players are now well aware that Karanka will no longer accept average at the City Ground.