Chris Hughton has been sacked by Nottingham Forest after a torrid start to the season, picking up only one point from seven Championship fixtures.
Manchester United youngster James Garner shone for Forest in the second half of last season under Hughton and was expected to take another step in his development this campaign, as he returned to the City Ground on a season-long loan deal.
Garner started Hughton’s final match in charge of Forest but was replaced after 67 minutes following one of his poorest displays to date. Middlesbrough ran out comfortable 2-0 winners on the day, with the result never appearing in doubt.
This is not the first time the 20-year-old will be undergoing a mid-season manager change in his short career.
While on loan at Watford last year, Garner played an essential role under the stewardship of Vladimir Ivic in the autumn. However, as results started to decline, Watford’s notoriously cut-throat ownership opted to bring in Xisco Munoz. Under Munoz, Garner was named an unused substitute three times and saw his game-time significantly reduced, prompting United to arrange a new loan move to Forest in January 2021.
With fellow academy graduates Tahith Chong and Ethan Laird enjoying exemplary individual starts to the Championship campaign at Birmingham and Swansea respectively, Garner will want to kick his season into gear as soon as possible, especially after a performance that was widely lambasted on social media by Forest fans.
Some United fans have suggested that Garner could be best served returning to United in January. Garner could then find a loan to a Championship side where he can truly express his talents free from concerns of relegation or potentially even fight for a place in the first team, given United’s issues in defensive midfield.
Garner could still excel despite Hughton’s exit, but there is definitely a concern among United fans.
Without a doubt, United’s transfer chiefs will hope Forest can kick on after struggling in the early stages, and Garner can cement himself as one of the Championship’s leading holding midfielders — with a view to fighting his way into United’s first-team in the not-too-distant future.
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