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Welcome to Garibaldi Redd, a Nottingham Forest podcast brought to you by Nottingham. I'm Max Hayes, your host. And today, he sees our first podcast of 2024. So a very happy New Year to all of our listeners and subscribers. Thank you, as always, for the support. Looking forward to today's episode. Delighted to be joined by Ryan Lester, commentator and broadcaster for the BBC, also a close follower of Nuno Esperito, Santo's career throughout his time at Wolves. Ryan, good to see you. Happy New Year.


How are you? Happy New Year. I'm good, thank you. Well, Wolves are three wins in three from Christmas. Unheard of, Uncharted water. From a Wolves point of view, I'm very happy.


Yes, it must be a good time to be a Wolves fan. You are right. I think Forest actually were one of the only sides that managed to hold you at Mollinu.


That's right. I think we were just talking off there then about... It was the game after you played Fulham. Then, Steve Kipper was given the green light to be given another week. That's happened to Wolves quite a lot. We faced Bournemouth last season. They'd been spanked 8-0. Then typically, we drew 9-0. Any team that seems to take a hammer in seems to face Wolves. It's always seems to be 0-0. But it was a really tough game to watch that was. But yeah, clean sheet. Can't argue if you've been taking a hammer in. So yeah, to tighten things up.


Yeah, definitely. I mean, today's podcast is a little bit different. We're going to have a more in-depth look at the new Forest Manager, Nuno Esparito Sanza. Of course, as we record this podcast, Forest come out the back of a brilliant win against Man United 2-1, start the new year off, well, end the new year actually quite nicely. As we go into this winter break, two wins out of three for Nuno. Ryan, I suppose first of all, from someone that's followed Nuno quite closely, what have you made to his start at Forest so far?


It's a dream start, isn't it? I mean, he had a tough home in game against Bournemouth. I think you were down to 10 men from a very controversial, typically Willy Bolly was... He flew in wholeheartedly, but I'm not sure that was a second yellow card. But then the bounce back, the Newcastle performance away, I watched that. That was such a Nuno performance, tucking in, blocking bodies on the line, wearing a team down, and then explosive second half with lots of pace in the counter. Now the Forest squad team to suit that style of play, Forest probably did ride their luck a little bit in the first half and probably could have gone, they could have gone two-nil up, but they believed they stuck in. Then Chris Wood turned into Prime, Romario in the second half and put the game to bed. But that Newcastle performance was a classic Wolves, Nuno performance in terms of being defensive, frustrating the opponents, being hungrier, and then having lots of pace on the counter, which you certainly have.


You mentioned there about Nuno setting up Wolves quite defensively and then having that pace on the counter attack. Forest were the only side to score, I think it was three goals at Newcastle for the first time since Man City, which was last year, and even they didn't win at St. James's Park. Can we expect that from Bruno? A lot of people said it was a bit of a sideways move when Forest got rid of Steve Cooper and appointed Bruno. But can we expect this counter attack in football from him a lot of the time?


I think Bruno's best performances have come against the better teams and the better teams tend to attack and don't respect anybody. The likes of, I mean, Wolves beat Man City plenty of times, multiple times under Bruno. Some Man United. Wolves had so many good performances, but the majority of the highlights came against the better sides. Wolves tend to struggle against more low block teams teams that would tuck in because then it's good having the players that have got the pace, but they're probably not as creative when teams are sitting in two banks of four or a bank of five and a bank of four. Yes, if playing teams away from home, that was a classic Bruno performance. I would expect that more. If teams come to forest and attack you, that's what I'd expect as well. It did make me think about the old days and what I used to do. I didn't really care either way, Newcastle and Forest. But from a footballing point of view, I really enjoyed it. It was like, Well, I can see that. I tried to do that at Spurs, but I guess where Spurs were when they appointed Nuno, they would be after more front foot football, which Nuno is probably never going to give you.


I think Nuno and Forest at this point in time are a very good fit. If the Forest fans are happy to tuck in and break explosivesively, that's not a good fit at the moment.


Yeah, certainly doing all right. Two wins out of three for him, albeit a bit unfortunate against Bournemouth in his opening game, as you mentioned there with Willy Bolly being sent off. I suppose, Ryan, when you look at Nuno's time at Wolves and the way he set up, he went quite counter-attacking again. But also, like you say, tucks in defensively, we would often play the 3-4-3 formation in a way. Is that something that, again, we can expect at Forest? You think you'll try to replicate the Wolves tactically while he was there into Forest?


The first three years of Nuno, the promotion of the championship when Wolves got 90-plus points, that was an amazing season. Conor Cody sitting in the middle of a back three, spraying it round, Matt Doety wide right, and then Barry Douglas in the championship. That three-four-three became just a work of art. It wasn't always tucking in in the championship because when you've got Ruben Neves, Jogu Yota playing in the championship, you can afford to squeeze a little bit more. I would be surprised if he deviates from that. But football works in cycles and it got to the end of the cycle. Nuno and Wolf's parted ways because that system become a little bit flat. There was a bit of a call from fans to go to a back four. But old full-x. But with the players that Forrest have, particularly the pace out wide you have that it's all set up to tuck in and do that. He may go to a four when he's taking on supposedly lesser opposition, maybe so. But in the last two games, you've been fantastic, so why change it?


Yeah, definitely. Nuno's record in the Premier League was actually doing a bit of research. Even before he was appointed at Forest a few weeks ago, and his 43 wins, points per game of 1.5 overall. Even during his time at Tottenham, because we just touched on his time at Tottenham and they wanted front-facing attacking football. But even at Spurs, he was quite hard done by. He had a very good track record there, didn't he?


I think in the opening game of the season, he was manager of the... Sorry, the opening month of the season, he was manager of the month. Spurs were top of the table. They're absolutely flying. But he did well. I did a certain amount of sympathy for him, but he was never first choice for the board there. I think he was something like fifth or sixth choice. They were running out of options. They couldn't get anybody. Then the fans get a hold of that. Then when they're bringing in a manager just to make do quickly. That sounds like a little bit disrespectful, but he was quite way down the pecking order in terms of who they wanted. I don't think that was a relationship that was ever going to work in terms of football ethos because I know the Spurs fan base have this tradition. They want to play quite flamboyant attacking football, which they're trying to do now and doing quite well and we're certainly entertain in any way. I don't think Nuno is ever going to play that football. He's quite pragmatic in games. He'll quite happy tuck in, not have the ball and then pounce and then grind opponents down.


I did feel a little bit sorry for him, but if you're going to be off at the Spurs job, most people aren't going to turn that down. It didn't work out now. But as I said at the start of the show, I think Forrest and Nuno are a very good fit for where both are at the moment.


Yeah, definitely. Do apologize for anyone watching as well. I've just had a coughing fit. That's the Christmas lurchie I seem to have just caught not starting the new year very well. I suppose when we look, Ryan, again, from The Wolves' perspective, his most successful period in football, albeit in English football. What are his main strengths? Would you say overall? What would The Wolves fans straight away point out and highlight about Bruno as a positive?


I mean, he's a very passionate guy. He feels to me like quite an angry guy. You can see the way he celebrates goals with his team. I like there's a real togetherness about Wolves. When he came in, he put Conor Cody as captain and Conor had a fantastic few years at Wolves. He really seems to pull the squad together. He'll know who he wants and who he doesn't want straight away. He doesn't suffer, falls. That's an interesting point on... I know Morgan Gibbs had quite an interesting time at the start of his career at Wolves. Him and Nuno didn't really particularly see well. It's alleged that Morgan probably wasn't the most disciplined footballer at Molinew then and probably had a few other interests outside football that would probably distracting him a little bit. In terms of what will they like? He's a strong man. He talks well. He has a lot of self-belief. He doesn't often smile very often. But when you do, you probably earn that smile from him. I think he's a strong character. He believes in his ways. He won't suffer for falls and he won't deviate from... I mean, all football manager is stubborn.


He won't deviate from his own plan. He's a stubborn man. But that stubbornness took Wolves to seventh in the Premier League twice, an FA Cup semifinal, European quarter final. Sorry, a Europa League quarter final. I'm sure if you achieve those things at Forest, you'd be absolutely buzzing. I'm not saying he's going to do that, but he has a great track record at Wolves. I would say Wolves and Forest are similar size clubs. I know Wolves more recently in the Premier League, but they've both sat out the Premier League and the top flight for quite a while with having quite a strong history, particularly, Forrest, in the past. Could he achieve that at Forrest? Who knows? But in terms of his characteristics, I think he's someone for the fans that he's very likable. I think you'll get on board very quickly with him. Not so sure that the media will be the same. He's quite interesting to work with sometimes. But in terms of a strong character that will do some chest bumps and do that Jürgen Klopp pump at the end of games, you'll certainly do that to the fans. I'll be, well, beat Man United and beat Newcastle.


It's a results business. What's not to love about that?


When we look at the negatives potentially, and you mentioned there about him in the media, but so far in the media with Forrest, he's been praised upon for thanking the legacy that Steve Cooper's created. He's been very articulate about that. But what negatives would you say? You say he's a very difficult man to work within the media? Yeah.


First of all, what you said about Steve Cooper, I think he's very respectful to his legacy and predecessors. He should do that because what Steve Cooper did at Forrest was nothing short of fantastic, taking over in the relegation zone, playoffs, and then keeping a team up as well. Granted, he spent some money, but yeah, Steve Cooper should be respected to say credit to Nuno for that. He is respectful like that to his opponents. He doesn't really criticize people that well, but he always felt quite standoffish and cold in the media. You can almost feel like you're getting to a routine of asking questions in different ways and you'll get the same answers. Now, that might sound like I'm being bitter or being harsh, but I saw a lot of him over the three or four years. He was there. When managers come under pressure, they become more defensive, they come more sharp with their answers. But I guess that's human nature as well. If you're under pressure at work, you're not going to be as willing to come forward and talk tactics and stuff like that. But he didn't really need to in the first three years at Wolves because Wolves were brilliant.


European quarter final, FA Cup semifinal, a wonderful promotion. Pete Rael Jiminez, Diogo Yata, Ruben Neves. When those players are firing, you don't need to answer any questions because your team is doing all the talking. But it did become a little bit grumpy when it became tough. Wolves become, for whatever reason, Wolves become more pragmatic and then Nuno became a bit more grumpy. But what I would say is as well, the whole world went into lockdown, the Premier League went into lockdown. Then he was away from his family for a bit as well. The Wolves fan base lost touch with Wolves. That was such a big part of Wolf's success then. I think that then going back to Nuno, I think that distanced him as well. I think he'd had not a particularly great ride previously in his career with the press. I think he's always then he became quite defensive and quite short and sharp. But equally, if you're a Premier League manager, you're interested in managing your team, and I would imagine 50 % of the managers don't want to deal with the media. They don't want to have spent three hours on the training ground, then doing the team briefing and then speaking to the youth team and then talking to everybody else and then coming out and answering the same questions every week.


So I could understand why he gets frustrated with that. But I would say, I didn't deal with him very often, but more the regular guys on the local basis would probably agree that it was maybe sometimes a bit of a prickly character to deal with. But in those first three years, who cared? Because the football was brilliant.


Yeah, exactly. You talk about on the pitch there, the football always maybe covers up what's off the pitch. Based on Nuno's relationship with the owners at Wolves, how did he get on with the ownership? Because Forest's ownership is known to be to be slightly controversial at times to be very, very demanding. We saw with Steve Cooper's exit that the Greek ownership for Forrest, as you like, don't seem to wait around that much for managers to do well in a way.


Yeah, great question. He was brought in at the start. Now, Nuno Espirato-Santo, I believe, was Jorge Mendo's first ever clients. If that's the case, then they're going to have a good relationship together. Then obviously, Wolves found that smart way of working that managed to get Diogo Yota, Ruben Neves, and players like that to model you in that promotion season. Nuno was a big part of that as well. I think he was strongly on board with the owners and the relationship with George Mendez, because let's face it, if we didn't have that relationship, they wouldn't have had that platform to build to be where they are now to be an established Premier League team. So I think he was very much on board with Jeff Shee, the Wolf's top dog. I think he had a good relationship. How could you not appreciate what he'd done in that space of time? Yes, he was given those fantastic footballers, but you've got to know how to use them as well. I mean, all good things come to an end. No managerial appointment lasts forever unless you're the very best and then it has to event in some time.


Wolves and Nuno just came to the end of a cycle together. They were hurt by lockdown and they lost that more new bounce in that relationship with the fans they had away from home because you're playing empty stadiums. That did hurt Wolves and Nuno a lot. But I think he had a good relationship with Wolves. But again, going back to my point previously, if you're playing, winning football and developing and climbing and climbing, what's not to like about it? It came to a tough end, a party company and he only got to say goodbye to a 25 % full stadium, which was a real shame. But overall, I would say he had a good relationship with him because he took a club that had finished under Paul Lambert in the bottom half of the championship to winning the league to European football to an FA Cup semifinal. I think they would have been very happy and I think it was a reasonably respectful end as well.


Yeah, you certainly can't complain about those achievements. I suppose when you mentioned George Mendo as well there, a name that Forrest have previously worked with. Sabri Lamuchi was a client of his. Forrest went to sign the Portuguese, almost won the kids in the championship, almost try and replicate what Wolves had created. When Wolves were in the Premier League and Forrest was still in the depths of the championship. It didn't really work out. A lot of Forrest fans will admit that it didn't. And then we went to the slightly different approach, obviously, and then eventually leading to Steve Cooper and an American CEO in Dave Murphy leading the approach. But when you talk about George Mendez there, Ryan, what was Wolves' experience within? Because recently, newspaper reports have reported that he's back on the scene with with Marinac as it will be driving certain clients to to Forrest.


There's very much pros and cons. I think Wolves are really smart in their approach to the championship promotion season. Because if you can get into bed with an agent like that and reap the rewards, it took Wolves from a bank average championship side to one of the best championship sides is having some of the best championship players. I know there is pros and cons of that because I know they talk about the Mendois carousel. Eventually, those players are going to be sold on and that's happened. But Wolves have made a profit on those players and have now reinvested the money. Mendo is happy. He's moved his client around for some more money. His players have been successful. Yottas now at Liverpool. I know Neves, he's earning ridiculous money in the Saudi League. I think it was a smart move. Now, there is the pros and the cons. If you're going to have that contact that's going to get you high-quality footballers to take you to the next level, at some point, those footballers are going to move on. If you are a stepping stone, sometimes you have to accept that. Now, for where Wolves were and what I've experienced watching Wolves for a long time, I was more than happy with that.


I'm not expecting loyalty from players, Champions League footballers, to stay at Wolves forever. If Wolves were a stepping stone, they take Wolves further at the table, Wolves make a profit and that player makes a move for his career, unfortunately, for where we're at, you have to accept. I don't know, it's a very dangerous relationship to have to have one supplier, really, in that area. But it is pros and cons. Now, at that time, Wolves had the best pick of the young players, so I couldn't have any complaints. Unfortunately, those young players aren't there isn't an endless conveyor belt of them. That came to an end. Some of the recruitment. Fabio, Silver wasn't so good. There's probably one or two of us weren't great. But the foundation that that relationship built is the reason why Wolves where they are now. If you get the best players, but that's down to your sports director and your manager to not just to allow anyone to come in and be pushed by the agent.


Yeah, definitely. Kind of just want to touch on before we finish, Ryan, his relationship with the fans, he mentioned bits in this chat. But when you look at a manager like Steve Cooper at Forest, who had an amazing relationship with the fans, would clap them at the end of games, win, loss, however, Forest finished a game, Steve Cooper would always come over and appreciate the traveling support. Can we expect that from Bruno? Can we expect a passionate man and almost to build that relationship with the fans?


Yeah. One of two of the best things are from the Nuno era. Nuno had a fantastic song at Wolves. When that was blaring out, it was such a good song. But also at the end of games, he would come over, particularly away games. I know he'd appreciate the South Bank and mainly at modern you, but particularly away games, he'd come over. It wasn't ajergen clock, triple chest pump. It's just the one build-up. But that was a real nice part of the away game. Him doing that with his team and the players coming over, I've only got good memories of that relationship. I remember away at Middlesborough in the championship, Wolves won 2-1, but they were down to nine men for probably half an hour or something of the game and they still won 2-1. He just ran over to the fans at the end. I don't know if you remember this one in the championship when Wolves played Cardiff and Wolf managed to... They had conceded two penalties in injury time and neither penalty was scored, one saved and one-off the bar. Then he just ran straight past Neil Warnock, just jumping on his players and it was just absolute carnage.


If you've got a manager that's living for the moment, I understand there's a manager, a lettica of hands, well played, la di da di da. But that passion and raw emotion to be running on the pitch, you're only going to love that as a fan because I'm a massive Wolfs fan and I spend time in the away end and occasionally working doing some co-coms as well as my podcast. But when you see someone loving that moment for your football club as much as you love it, you can only buy into that. You want that passion. I don't want a robotic manager just applaud him politely. If someone's delivering that passion and living in that moment with you, it's infectious.


Definitely. Hopefully positive times for Forrest. Finally then, Ryan, just from that neutral perspective and someone that's followed Nuno closely, where do you think he can take Forrest, in your opinion?


I think I'll be surprised from what I've seen those first few games now if it's not a comfortable survival. I mean, it should be three wins from three. Forest were good against Bournemouth. What is interesting to me that there has been a little bit of needle between Wolves and Forest, particularly with the Morgan Gibbs-Wright situation. The games now do feel a little bit spicy. I'm all for that because I think it makes a better game instead of a softer atmosphere. I quite enjoy that. That gives Wolves now a reason to be up for the game and he'll be up for the game. In terms of Forrest, I think Forrest now probably will be comfortable and reasonably safe this season. I've read a few articles in terms of Forrest's financial fair play. I'd imagine the Brennan Johnson money will probably see Forest quite safe, but Nuno won't want to sit still. He must have been giving some guarantees. I don't see him taking that job and given no money. I think I'd be really surprised if there wasn't some cash to spend there. This is an out there call as well. But if a couple of other ex-Wolves players went to Forest, I wouldn't be surprised about that at all.


An out there shout would be Conor Cody. Now I know that might be a strange one for you. He's not playing at Leicester, but Leicester player back four. It doesn't suit that system. But Cody was his Marshall in the middle of a back three. That would not surprise me at all. He absolutely loves Cody. He was his captain quite often the playmaker, the footballing defender. Going back to your question, I've gone around a few roundabouts there, but Forrest comfortably survived this season. No doubt about that. Next season, who knows? Let's see what investment he gets. But he's taken a similar size club to an FA Cup semifinal, as I said, a European quarter final and consecutive sevenths. I think Forrest have got a very good manager. If that's at the start of a really good cycle, then it could be a good time for Forrest and Nuna.


Well, fingers crossed for an exciting Forrest time in the next few weeks. You mentioned there about the financial fair play as well, Ryan. We'll keep you up to date here on Garibaldi Red with that situation ever evolving. But fingers crossed, Forrest will manage to get themselves out of that some way. Right, before I have another coughing fit, Ryan, thanks very much for your time today.


See you at the city ground soon.


Yes, fingers crossed. Remember to drop as a like and follow on Spotify and Apple Podcasts as well as leaving as a review if you do enjoy our podcasts. Like and subscribe on YouTube and we will see you next week after the BlackPool game. Take care and thanks for tuning in as always.