Why Aitor Karanka can fire Nottingham Forest into the play-offs

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Aitor Karanka was named the new manager of Nottingham Forest on Monday afternoon.

The former Middlesbrough boss took the reins at the City Ground just a day after a fabulous 4-2 FA Cup win over Arsenal.

Karanka takes over from Mark Warburton, who was relieved of his duties last month, with Forest currently 14th in the Championship table.

The Spaniard’s immediate remit will be to fire Forest up the table and put them in contention for a play-off spot.

And that should not be beyond the ex-Real Madrid assistant coach. The Reds are just 11 points off the current top six with 20 games left to play.

It may not seem like there’s a lot to play for, but Karanka’s organisational ability can bring the best out of this precocious young squad.

And that gifted talent was on show in spades in that huge win over Arsene Wenger’s Premier League giants.

If it can be harnessed on a consistent basis, you shouldn’t rule Forest out of making a late surge. Inconsistency blighted Warburton’s time in charge.

The former Brentford and Rangers’ boss likes to coach attractive, pass and move football. But without experienced characters, it fell a little flat at times, and the youngsters struggled.

However, with Karanka now in charge, those same players could benefit hugely from his penchant for drilling a highly-structured side.

His Boro team weren’t exactly entertainers, but there were incredibly solid, difficult to beat, and could score goals.

He achieved the ultimate aim on Teeside of promotion. But the strengths which served him so well that season came back to bite him in the following Premier League campaign.

The North-East club remained efficiently solid, but ultimately just didn’t have enough tools in attack. And that cost Karanka his job.

The ex-Spain U-16 coach won’t have to worry about that right now at Forest. The Reds defence has conceded 42 goals – one of the worst in the division.

Between Kieran Dowell, Zach Clough, and Ben Brereton, the side has plenty of talent going forward.

But that back four will need shoring up, and work will be needed on the defensive midfield positions. Even in that big win over the Gunners, Forest were wide open on a number of occasions.

However, there are fewer better organisational coaches than Karanka and that certainly gives this grand old club a chance of hitting its aim come May.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Cian Carroll

Starting life as a football columnist for his local paper in Dundalk, Cian has written for a number of media outlets with pieces published in The Birmingham Mail and Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo. A lover of football, GAA, boxing, rugby and MMA, he’s a big Aston Villa and Dundalk fan. He can be regularly spotted on various mountain tops.