The University of Nottingham Students’ Union launched a new partnership with Nottingham Forest Football Club on Tuesday, one week ahead of the Reds’ home clash against Norwich City – for which students can grab tickets at a special price of £5. Midfielder and exciting academy product Matty Cash sat down with Impact, as he discussed the importance of student support and his impending return to the team sheet following an injury that has withheld his start to the season.
£5 for an Championship game is a great price, especially for students. What do you think the extra set of fans coming to the game might add?
MC: “It’s always a cracking atmosphere at the City Ground, and for you guys to get Norwich tickets for a fiver is really good. It will mean we’ve got a great mix of young and older fans at the game, which brings a nice atmosphere.”
“The City Ground is always bouncing. It gives the players an extra man.”
You’re good mates with Forest’s Jorge Grant and Ryan Yates, who are currently on loan at Notts County, have you seen how well they’re getting on; and has it surprised you to see them doing so well?
MC: “When I went on loan [to Dagenham and Redbridge] it was a fantastic experience. I got twelve, thirteen games in under my belt in the league. It’s a massive thing to do. Especially for Ryan and Jorge, who are both fantastic players that came through with me in the youth team. Jorge is on nine goals now and it’s no surprise because he’s a fantastic player.”
“Ryan is an all-round professional, he does everything right. I’m sure both will kick on and have very good careers.”
Do you anticipate that there’s going to be some competition between the three of you when they come back?
MC: “We’ve got a massive squad, full of fantastic players. That includes Ryan and Jorge because they are still part of Forest. I don’t know what’s going to happen with them two; they are doing very well where they are. If they keep doing that, then we’ll have to wait and see.”
For the £5 student match on Tuesday night, what can a newcomer who has never been to the city ground before expect?
MC: “It’s quality! The City Ground is always bouncing. It gives the players an extra man. To have the City Ground packed out and us playing well is good.”
Norwich have some quality players, it’s two good sides coming together on Tuesday. Should we expect something similar to QPR last time out; lots of fluidity and lots of goals?
MC: “We take each game as it comes. We have to get past Birmingham before we focus on Norwich. Every team in the Championship has a fantastic squad, don’t forget. We don’t look at teams thinking ‘we can beat them’ because you don’t know in the Championship, any result can happen. As I say, go to St. Andrews and get a result and then we can start thinking about Norwich.”
Manager Mark Warburton is trying to instil a very different style of play, an attractive and technically demanding one that Forest have not seen in recent seasons. Coupled with a near miss on relegation last season and a fresh start from five years of decay in the summer, a complete revival has unsurprisingly not come with a the click of the managerial or new owner’s fingers. However, having lost 2-0 to Derby in mid-October, Forest’s subsequent form has been far more deserving of their performances. The Red’s haven’t necessarily changed too much, but the countless chances and passing moves they create have been executed with far more rigor.
Since the Derby game form has been much improved and the playing style seems to be finding its groove. Has it clicked now?
MC: “The stuff that the manager does, the way he plays, its fantastic. It suits a lot of our players. When we win we can’t get too high, and when we lose we can’t get too down. We want to find that consistency of performing how we did against QPR and then when we look at the league later on in the season we’ll see where it gets us.”
Cash cemented his injury comeback with 85 minutes and a goal to boot in an under-23s win at Pride Park recently. Gary Brazil’s side came from behind to win in the Premier League Cup, as Zach Clough provided the equaliser before Cash put the away side ahead.
What was it like to score at the iPro?
MC: “Always good to score against Derby! Getting back and gaining minutes was the most important thing. I’m feeling good now. I’ve been in the squad the last two games but didn’t make it onto the bench, but I’ve spoken to the manager and as long as I keep working hard and training well I will hopefully get my opportunity. I’m ready to be playing now.”
This summer, Forest began somewhat of a fresh start, with Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis acquiring the club, ending five years of backwards progress under previous owner Fawaz Al Hasawi.
From the outside, it feels like there’s a lot more positivity around the club, what has the transition been like from your point of view? Do you feel like the fans are behind the squad?
MC: “It feels like there’s been a really big change. Everyone knows what we want to do and where we want to be as a club. Its slowly building and there’s been a lot of positive changes. That’s the main thing, really, it isn’t going to all happen quickly. There has to be a slow build up to get where everyone wants to be.”
What are your long term ambitions at Forest?
MC: “Getting Forest to the Premier League is the main one. I want to keep kicking on and for us to keep playing well as a team. We can’t look ahead too early, and I’m not gonna promise that we’ll get to the Premier League next season. We have to slowly build as a squad, with the manager and a mix of young and experienced players which is well balanced. We’ll see where it takes us.”
How have you found working under Mark Warburton; and how does he compare to other managers?
MC: “He’s fantastic. He’s a really good gaffer and everyone wants to play for him. That’s so important if you’ve got a squad that wants to play for the manager.
Everyone knows you’re a centre-mid, and more of an attacking player. Yet last season you often played as a wing-back, whilst Mark Warburton also likes to play a 3-5-2. Do you feel that has added to your game?
MC: “Definitely. If you’re playing in the Championship in any position your always building as a player. It doesn’t matter where you play. I’ve always said, if the manager tells me to play somewhere, I will play. As long as I’m playing, I’ll play anywhere for the club. But yes, playing right-wing-back last year as well as centre-mid was a good learning curve. I was, still am, young and just happy to be playing.”
Forest face Brum on Saturday, as they look to get back to winning ways on the road. The Blues are struggling yet again this season, and with former Forest manager Steve Cotterill at the helm, some fans are licking their lips. As Cash alluded to however, Forest will have to forget league table positioning when they step out onto the St Andrews pitch if they are to maintain a better away record this campaign.
Then on Tuesday night (19.45 kick-off), Forest host Norwich City at the City Ground. With just two points separating the sides and Forest the same distance from the play-offs, all involved will hope that the extra student fans can spur the Reds onto an emphatic win.
Tom Monks, Liam Kenny, Nick Kaba, Alex Riggs
With thanks to Adam Pratchett, Matty Cash and Nottingham Forest Forest Football Club.
Featured Image from Impact Magazine