Nottingham Forest is enjoying a good season so far, with a chance for promotion. A player that has grabbed the headline more often than not is Matty Cash. With Tendayi Dariwka sidelined for an extended period of time, and Carl Jenkinson prone to injury, Lamouchi needed a right back. Rather than searching the market, he opted to move Cash further back. The winger turned full-back has put in consistent performances throughout the season, often in the EFL team of the week. He can combine good defensive skills with excellent dribbling and crossing, epitomising what the modern full-back should be. His 3 goals and 4 assists are an impressive return, especially in the defensive set-up Sabri Lamouchi uses.
This tactical analysis scout report will use analysis to look at the role Cash plays at Forest, highlighting his particularly impressive attacking play. The tactical analysis scout report will also highlight how Cash fits into the tactics deployed, and why a move to full-back made sense in Lamouchi’s Forest.
Nottingham Forest line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Cash operating at right-back. Before Lamouchi’s arrival, it is a position Cash rarely featured in, so his seamless transition has been a revelation. The tactics used by Forest mean that attacking full-backs were a necessity. Rather than buying one, Lamouchi opted to transform Cash. His pace, dribbling and crossing, as well as his tenacity in the tackle, makes him the modern-day full-back.
Whether Cash would have been the first choice for right-back had Dariwka and Jenkinson remained fit is up for debate. However, the tactics used makes him a better fit than the two aforementioned.
Joe Lolley usually operates in front of Cash on the right-hand side for Forest. Being left-footed, Lolley comes inside onto his stronger foot. This creates space for Cash. From this position, he can do the part of his game that comes naturally. Cash will commit the opposing full-back, taking him on and looking for a crossing opportunity. Cash averages 1.1 dribbles and 0.9 crosses per game. Compared to other right-backs like Luke Ayling of Leeds (0.9 dribbles and 0.7 crosses) and Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford (0.5 dribbles and 0.2 crosses) he comes out on top. He will also look to drive into any space before receiving the ball.
This analysis shows that the tactics are used to get Cash into attacking positions, offering an extra threat. He effectively utilises space and is able to be effective with the ball in these areas. It also helps Forest in the attack. Ben Watson and the accompanying midfielder often sit deep to protect the back 4. The tactics allow the full-backs to push forward and assist in the attack, trying to create overloads. As the image below shows, Cash exploits vacated space, with and without the ball.
Another reason for Cash operating at right-back and why it has been a successful move is that it helps maintain width whilst in possession. As the tactical analysis scout report previously stated, Lolley usually likes to come inside. This means that play can often be congested in central areas for Forest when in possession. As a result, they can lack width, making it easier for the opposing side to close down and defend compactly.
When Lolley does move inside, Cash will push up and be as wide as possible. The tactical analysis scout report highlighted that this allows Cash to be in dangerous areas of the pitch, offering an attacking threat. However, it also serves another purpose. The tactics used means Forest are able to make the pitch as large as possible when in possession. In a general sense, it allows Forest a free man to use when pressed in central areas.
However, the analysis will show his mere presences causes problems. The opposing full-back has to be wary of being caught out in behind and will re-adjust his positions to accommodate Cash. Even if the defender is to move 5 yards further wide, it creates space in the channel between centre-back and full-back for the likes of Lolley and Tiago Silva to play in. This creates a situation where the opposing full-back has a problem of whether to reduce the gap to Cash or not. Either decision affords space to a Forest play, out-wide or centrally. As the images below show, Cashs movement out-wide forces the full-back to follow, leaving space centrally.
These days, the majority of full-backs love to push forward and be an attacking threat. This may mean that they neglect their defensive duty, or that defending doesn’t come naturally as they are converted wingers. The tactical analysis scout report shows Cash falls into the latter, but he isn’t one to shirk his defensive duties. He is extremely aggressive in the tackle, often playing on the front foot. He is perfect for the defensive tactics and set-up deployed by Lamouchi.
Cash averages 2.8 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per 90 for Forest this season. Only Samba Sow averages more tackles and only Watson and Sow average more interceptions for Forest. This shows he is not afraid to do the defensive side of the game. He is willing to put his foot in and positions and reads the game well enough to make interceptions.
Forest also look to defend their box compactly and aggressively. They like to make it difficult for the opposition to break through and force the man on the ball backwards. Cash is the perfect example of these defensive tactics in action. He looks to press the opposition, affording no time or space near the penalty area. His aggressiveness in pressing forces the opposition backwards, allowing Forest to push up the pitch, or winning the ball back with a tenacious tackle to force a counter. This is the way Lamouchi likes to set up defensively. It makes Forest difficult to play through and they look for pressing triggers to win the ball back. This tactical analysis shows Cash performs these two main defensive duties with high tackles and interceptions. The images below show Cash quickly closing down space and forcing the opposing player to go backwards.
The tactical analysis scout report thus far has shown that the tactics deployed by Forest allow Cash to use space left by Lolley. However, there are occasions in the game where Forest will look to create overloads in wide areas. Lolley will stay out wide and link up with Cash, playing 1-2s to bypass the opposition press. This is an extremely effective tactic employed by Forest, and Cash is vital to the success of this tactic.
This tactic is largely employed when Forest feel they can not play through the middle as the opposition has looked to overload. This means there is space in wider areas for Lolley and Cash to create a numerical advantage to beat the opposing full-back. Cash links up excellently with Lolley in these scenarios. He will play 1-2 passes to bypass the press and opposition, getting in behind to create crossing opportunities. Cashs link-up play and relationship with Lolley is also a source of creativity in this Forest team.
Forest usually struggle to break down teams who afford them possession and are heavily reliant on Cash and Lolley to help them do so. Their play down the right-hand side creates space in tight games by overloading and getting in behind the low block. It is, therefore, no surprise they are the second and third top assistors for Forest this season, a sign they help each other get into goal creating opportunities. As the images below show, Cash picks the ball from deeper and plays a 1-2 with Lolley, getting behind the opposition midfield as a result.
In conclusion, this tactical analysis report has shown how Cash has transformed from a winger to an effective full-back. The tactics deployed by Lamouhci means he needed to have a creative and attacking threat from full-back positions. He is clever enough to know when to push into space vacated by Lolley. In forward positions, he is able to perform his strengths and be an effective attacking threat. He is an accomplished dribbler and crosser and is a nightmare for opposing full-backs and wingers.
His link-up play also compliments Lolley and offers Forest a different threat in situations where they are not able to play through the middle. They can create overloads in wide positions to look to get in behind the defence.
The worry with moving a winger into a full-back position is their defensive capability. However, Cash has made the transition look easy. He is aggressive and positions himself excellently, playing a key-part in Forests excellent defence. A move to Red Bull Leipzig was touted in previous summers. If he continues this form, at only 22 years old, a move to a team in Europe may not be far off.