COHEN GOES BACK TO MOVE FORWARD!
BILLY Davies may have presented Chris Cohen with the captain’s armband this season.
But while the Nottingham Forest boss clearly admires the 26-yearold’s dedication and leadership, the same can’t be said for his finishing skills!
Once a flying winger, Cohen has been shunted into defence this term – and the former Yeovil man isn’t complaining.
“Yeah, I seem to have spent my whole career going backwards,” laughs Cohen, who has scored 14 goals in 238 games for Forest. “I started off as an attacking midfielder, then became a left winger.
“Now I’m playing at left-back, so if I play much longer I’ll probably end up as a goalkeeper!
“Still, I can’t complain too much – if you look at how many goals I’ve scored, you can see why the manager thinks I’m a defender!”
The departure of Lewis McGugan to Watford in the summer means Cohen – who signed from Yeovil in 2007 – is now the Reds’ longestserving player.
Even so, he was shocked when Davies asked him to take over the captaincy from veteran defender Danny Collins during the summer.
“I didn’t expect it all,” admits Cohen. “Danny Collins was skipper last year and I didn’t have any reason to think he would change it.
“But the gaffer’s made a decision and I have to say that Danny’s been brilliant with me. He’s taught me all of the little jobs and off-field stuff that you’re required to do and been there if I need to ask about anything.
“For me, it’s a massive honour to be the captain of this great club – it’s amazing to think of all the famous names who’ve done it before.
“Likewise, I can’t believe I’m the longest-serving player. There’s a couple of us who’ve been here for seven seasons and we’ve seen every emotion possible in that time.”
The main emotion now is joy, especially on the terraces. Twice beaten in the play-off semis, Davies’ sacking in 2011 started a spiral of instability that saw Forest fighting relegation under first Steve McClaren and then Steve Cotterill.
Sean O’Driscoll steadied the ship but the club’s new Kuwaiti owners listened to supporters and brought Davies back to the club in February.
A run of ten games without defeat saw Forest climb to within touching distance of the play-offs last term and a £5m summer splurge on the likes of Kelvin
Davies (£2.5m) and Jamie Mackie (£1m) has brought the desired result.
Last weekend’s impressive 3-0 win over Bolton means the Trentsiders are the only Championship team left with a 100 per cent record and haven’t conceded a league goal all season. So what is Davies’ secret?
“I just think he’s a good manager,” says Cohen. “If you look at his record, it stands alongside or better than anyone who’s managed in the Championship before.
“And when you get someone who knows the division as well as him, you know that if you listen and do what he wants, then he’ll set you up to win football matches.
“He does have a huge impact. Billy is 100 per cent work ethic and he expects and demands a lot from his players. And with all the signings, he’s got great competition.
“You want good players at your football club and one of the best things they bring is the knowledge that if you don’t play well, you won’t get on the pitch.
“You can see that in action – it’s the first time we’ve won at Blackburn in decades, our best start to a season since 1997. It shows that the manager has got the signings right.”
LEADER: Chris Cohen is Forest captain Below: Billy Davies