The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Dunlavy

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

LEADER: Chris Co­hen is For­est cap­tain Be­low: Billy Davies

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