It is clear now what we already knew then. Stuart Pearce is more football manager than fairy godmother, and the streets leading to the City Ground are not suddenly paved with gold. This is still a club tormented by injuries and with a frailty that accounts for a run of winless games just as things appear to be rosy.
However, whilst most of Forest’s squad enjoyed a lengthy Pearce honeymoon, the same cannot be said of every member of the playing staff. After being the brightest light during the last campaign, Jamie Paterson has so far failed to make an impact during Pearce’s reign. The winger has been in the matchday squad for eleven of the club’s 14 Championship matches, but has been on the field for just 90 minutes. Brought on against Blackburn last weekend, Paterson appeared bereft of confidence.
The decline in Paterson is notable. Bought from League One Walsall for £1m last summer, he started just one game before November, but then quickly became a fixture in Billy Davies’ first-team setup. His FA Cup hat-trick against West Ham sparked a run of 12 league and cup goals in less than three months, and it appeared that Forest had unearthed a star.
The arrival of Pearce as manager would not have initially worried Paterson. The manager’s previous Under-21 experience provided cause for optimism that a young winger would play a large part in Forest’s new dawn. Paterson is still waiting for the sun to rise.
The arrival of Michail Antonio and Chris Burke have not made things easy for Paterson, but there is clearly something awry in the relationship between player and manager for him to have fallen so far from contention.
"The answer can be found in what we have said previously – because Antonio has done exceptionally well and Chris Burke has done very well, as well," Pearce the Nottingham Post when asked why Paterson had not been featuring.
"Jamie has found himself in a difficult position where he has to be patient. He has to wait for his time. He must impress me in training or in under-21 games." The winger did score in Forest Under-21’s most recent victory, but one suspects that Pearce is making a point over the mention of training. Has Paterson's attitude gone off-kilter? He would not be the first young player to fall foul of believing his own hype.
That said, it’s difficult not to feel a degree of sympathy for the player. Six months ago he seemed energetic, happy and effervescent when seen around the training ground, but that happy demeanour must now be hard to maintain. The arrival of Tom Ince from Hull is unlikely to increase Paterson’s first-team opportunities. What is it that has irked his manager so much?
Now, the obvious solution appears to be a loan move, but here too there may be an impasse. Forest would presumably be unlikely to offer Paterson to a Championship rival in a tight division for fear of assisting a promotion contender, whilst the player would be forgiven for considering himself above League One level. Stephen McLaughlin was behind Paterson in the pecking order and has performed excellently across the river
Aged 22, this is a time at which regular first-team football is vital for Paterson’s progression, but it appears that he is close to stagnation just three months into the season. Perhaps only Forest’s infamous injury curse can assist him in a bid to regain his place in the club’s first-team picture.