Anyone else in need of a positive right now? As events on the field in April 2016 threaten to rival April 2005 for the ‘grimmest April ever’, Forest fans are decidedly - and understandably - miserable.
Up step Oliver Burke. The 18-year-old winger has offered a rare ray of light amid the dark clouds over the City Ground. He’s strong, quick, decent in the air, direct and he’s only going to get better.
There’s something particularly thrilling about a great winger isn’t there? It’s what - for me - made Michail Antonio the most exciting player to don the Garibaldi since Stan The Man (not a winger but you get the gist). Every time he received the ball something could happen. Defenders were often left trailing in his wake, flat on their backsides or with no choice but to resort to a foul to stop him. His 15 goals and 12 assists have been badly missed in a side struggling to score or create goals.
Burke isn’t yet the new Antonio, but he could be. He’s played 18 times in the Garibaldi - one for each of his tenders years - and he needs to be involved in the last seven as we grope around for a positive and some points to keep us in the division.
If the rumours are right then young Twisty has already attracted the attentions of Premier League scouts and his elevation to the Scotland senior squad will only spread word of his talents further. I don’t want him to be another Patrick Bamford, cruelly whisked away form our clutches before we get to see the best of him. Instead we need to get him in and prepare him to be the main man next season.
When pondering his chances of making the Scotland squad for the World Cup qualifiers, he told the Melton Times:
I think I have got every chance if I keep improving my game and doing what I’m doing.
Right now I need to play every game like it’s my last for Forest.
He’s certainly motivated...although I’d prefer not to think about his last game for Forest right now.
Admittedly, he needs to mature and there will be parts of his game that needs to improve but what’s the alternative? Persisting with Ryan Mendes, who won’t be at the club next season and has well and truly gone off the boil? Playing an injury prone Jamie Ward in a position where he’s less effective? Asking another midfielder to fill a wide berth?
None of those options are working.
We desperately need a spark of pace and purpose and, above all else, a goal threat. We have, within our ranks, an 18 year old local lad (well Scottish-born and brought up near Melton Mowbray counts for me) who can deliver that. Watch his goal at Cardiff away if you don’t believe me:
This isn’t about piling pressure on a young lad, it’s about backing the talents of a bright young prospect and, above all, picking the best of the bunch to go out and win some matches.
Imagine a morale boosting win based on a Man of the Match display from Burke. It’d certainly be a tonic to the turgid fodder of the last few weeks. Sure, it won’t cure the inadequacies of the Fawaz regime but it’ll put a few smiles on faces at least.