• Nathan Smith

EARLY DESPAIR: WHY HAVE THESE THREE EFL SIDES FLOPPED THIS SEASON ALREADY?


Featured Image Credit - Nottinghamshire Live

The EFL season has gotten underway, and around this sort of time, we start to see which teams are going to set the pace in each league’s promotion hunt.


However, some of the teams that came into the season with big expectations have fallen flat and find themselves far away from where they want to be.


We have selected one EFL team from each division who have had a poor start and looking into why it’s happened and how it can be fixed.


CHAMPIONSHIP – NOTTINGHAM FOREST


With only one win to their name, it has been an awful start for Nottingham Forest. However, they picked up that first win after sacking Chris Hughton, but new manager Steve Cooper will still have a big task on his hands to move the Forest up the table.


What’s gone wrong?


The mentality of the Forest side has seemingly been the problem, often crumbling after going ahead or having a few chances on goal. This was best portrayed in the Cardiff game, where they went into half time 1-0 up via Lewis Grabban but couldn’t get a kick in the second half as they struggled mightily with Kieffer Moore and Rubin Colwill.


It looked like they were trying to keep a hold of their lead and not much else but looked panicked anytime they found themselves in possession. Players have also underperformed, especially in the goalkeeping department, with Brice Samba unable to get back his first season form, and back-up Ethan Horvath not doing much better when he was called upon.


How can they fix it?


Appointing former Swansea manager Steve Cooper is a step in the right direction, especially when you consider CEO Dane Murphy oversaw the recruiting the manager, so he has hopefully chosen the man he believes fits his principles the best. Cooper has something to prove after a sour end to his time at Swansea, and a decent squad to work with. Forest have lost plenty of games in midfield this season, so the likes of James Garner and Ryan Yates will need to step up, and the former England u17’s coach has previously worked with the aforementioned Manchester United loanee, so his performances should improve.


The squad also seems in the middle of a rebuild, so the January transfer window will be vital for Murphy to build the best team for Cooper to attack the league with. A shock win against Huddersfield is a great platform to work from, and if Cooper can bring the best out of the exciting young players Forest have, this season could turn out to be an encouraging one.


LEAGUE ONE – CHARLTON ATHLETIC


Expectations were high at The Valley as Charlton looked to return into England’s second tier in their first full season under new ownership, but a rough start has them in the relegation zone and moving further and further away from their desired position.


What’s gone wrong?


Charlton were slow movers in the transfer window, leaving a lot of their business late, making seven signings after their first league game of the season. This has meant that the squad has had to adjust in competitive games, something that can be hard to do and can cost you results early.


However, many fans believe their team lacks a real plan and identity, which has put manager Nigel Adkins under significant pressure early on. Charlton are a side that have struggled to create chances this season, with striker Jayden Stockley no where near his best and a lack of killer instinct in the midfield and wide positions.


How can they fix it?


It does feel like the time is up for Adkins, as the mood around the Charlton fanbase is at another low point, but the clear problem is in creating chances and putting the ball in the net. An encouraging first half display against Gillingham could have been a kickstart to the season, but an awful second half made many wonder what the manager had said to the players to make them come out and play the opposite to what they had been before.


With seemingly no real game plan, Thomas Sandegaard may have to act and bring in a manager with a style that can bring the best out of the Addicks. If not, Adkins must find a way to get Stockley and Conor Washington back to their best form, and find his best 11 very quickly, are Charlton run the risk of a shock relegation battle.


LEAGUE TWO – SALFORD CITY


Perennial favourites for promotion, Salford City usually have a squad of players featuring names you would associate with League One football, but in their second season in the EFL, they have yet to get going and find themselves in 17th place.


What’s gone wrong?


Salford City have struggled for consistency already this season, failing to build on either of their two wins, with some poor performances on the road. With only two games played at home out of eight, that away form needs to improve quickly if they want to reach the likes of Forest Green at the top. Gary Bowyer’s side have not been clinical at all this season, as they tend to have more shots and shots on target than their opponents but haven’t been able to put the ball into the net more than once in all but one of their games.


There is plenty of attacking talent at the club in the likes of Conor McAleny and Ian Henderson, but it is yet to click for the Ammies front line. Bowyer's team have been accused of being very pedestrian on the ball, and have lacked any form of intensity or spark in some of their defeats this season.


How can they fix it?


Gary Bowyer must be aware that Salford’s owners don’t like to wait around and may be feeling the pressure of a looming P45. If he wants to remain in charge, then he needs his team to play with some tempo and utilise the talent at his disposal. They tend to keep plenty of the ball, but it is no use if you are not going anywhere with it, so the manager has to let the shackles off his players and start getting at teams.


They are capable of overwhelming teams as they proved in the first half against Newport, but they must do more in possession. Bowyer has delivered promotions before, but his time at the Peninsula Stadium could be up if things don’t improve.