Sabri Lamouchi: The manager making Nottingham Forest fans dream again

Sky Sports exclusive: Sabri Lamouchi outlines his vision at the City Ground; watch Nottingham Forest vs Millwall live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm on Friday night with kick-off at 7.45pm

When Sabri Lamouchi arrived at the City Ground last summer, his own ambitions were far more short term than making Nottingham Forest fans dream of ending their long wait for Premier League football.

"My dream was just to finish the season" jokes the Frenchman, who signed a one-year deal at Forest last June.

He was right to be cautious. In recent times a manager seeing out an entire campaign at Forest has become a very rare thing. He is their 12th permanent boss since June 2011.

He also has the club dreaming of finishing in the top six for the first time since the 2010/11 season, too. They have spent most of the season firmly embedded in the top six, and still have slim hopes of automatic promotion.

Lamouchi has focused the squad and united the fan base. Forest are genuinely a threat in the Championship again.

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"The vision is simple," he explains. "It's about the result, performance, hard work and humility. The players know exactly what they need to do with and without the ball. They are not kids, they are professionals and they are all focused for the same thing.

"As the manager I need to bring everyone with me in the same direction and make sure by the end we don't have any regrets.

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"We just want to do the job and enjoy it, and I feel so lucky and proud to be the manager of this club, with the past and the history it has."

Lamouchi's managerial career has been somewhat nomadic. Before arriving at Forest he took charge of the Ivory Coast national team, El Jaish in Qatar and Rennes in France.

His playing career kept him largely in France and Italy - while also winning 12 caps for Les Bleus - so the Championship is a totally new experience.

The Reading game earlier this season stands out as a roller coaster in particular, with two goals late in stoppage-time providing Lamouchi with the full range of emotions. While the passion at the City Ground during their win over Leeds last month is something he hopes will be replicated for the rest of the campaign, starting with their clash at the City Ground against Millwall on Friday night - live on Sky Sports Football.

"Only football can make you so happy and in the next minute so disappointed," he says. "I remember the Reading game. In the 96th minute you think you have three points, and then 17 seconds later they score.

"But this is football, this is the Championship. Emotionally I want to prepare myself and my players for the next 10 games. We need to enjoy this exciting finish. We have six more games at home and I'm sure I don't need to ask for more support from our fans.

"If we have the same amazing night that we had against Leeds for the next six games we will have a fantastic atmosphere. We are all looking for the same dream."

When discussing Nottingham Forest it is impossible to avoid the history of the club. There aren't, after all, too many two-time European champions knocking around the lower leagues on the continent.

The appointment of O'Neill last year was meant to hark back to the glory days under Brian Clough, but nostalgia doesn't always work in modern football, and Lamouchi is more eager to look forward.

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 25: Sabri Lamouchi Manager of Nottingham Forrest celebrates at full time during the Sky Bet Championship match between Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest at the Cardiff City Stadium on February 25, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

"Not many clubs have this type of history and to work in a club with such a fantastic past makes me proud," he said. "It's a big challenge for me and for the players because you feel it.

"I don't want to disrespect the history, but it's not my history. There aren't many people at the club now who were here in [the late 1970s and 80s] when Forest was the best team in England and in Europe.

"I don't want us to live in the past, you need to enjoy the present and be confident for the future. I just want to look forward."

The play-offs still appears the most likely route back to the top flight for Forest, which would remain a real achievement considering it has been eight years since they last finished in the top six.

The fans can dream, but Lamouchi will remain grounded. His only goal, after all, is to make it to the end of his one-year deal.

"I am not focusing on [promotion]," he said. "My dream was just to finish the season as I have a one-year contract. Now I just want to get the maximum points we can and see where that takes us."

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