Andrey Santos may be only a few weeks into his Nottingham Forest loan spell, but Chelsea fans have already been quick to get their point across.
This week’s team-sheet slip, which saw Santos listed in the starting XI for his parent club’s Carabao Cup tie with Brighton and Hove Albion, sparked further comment. The general gist being that the switch to the City Ground was the wrong move for the midfielder and he might as well be back at Stamford Bridge.
Santos has featured once for the Reds so far, playing almost the full 90 minutes of the League Cup defeat to Burnley. He was on the bench against the Clarets in the league but not in the squad for last weekend’s trip to Manchester City.
He will get there, though. If anyone is best placed to judge when is the right time to call upon Santos, it is Steve Cooper.
His ability to develop young players and his knowledge of how to ease them into action has already served Forest well. And as he said himself last week, Danilo’s experience of last season provides a great “case study”.
It took the Brazilian time to find his feet. He was in and out of the side initially but went on to have a big impact once he had settled.
Just as Danilo was last January, Santos is also new to English football. The latter is slightly younger than his compatriot, at 19. A gently-gently approach is no bad thing.
Santos is highly regarded by Cooper, just as he is at Chelsea. He is a very exciting, talented player who is tipped for big things. But it still would have been a gamble to throw him straight in at the deep end in the Premier League. A similar approach is being taken with Murillo, who is yet to even get on the pitch.
There is no doubt midfield is one area where there is particularly tough competition for places at Forest. Ryan Yates had to settle for a watching brief at the Etihad Stadium. Danilo will have to work hard to get back in the team once he recovers from injury.
Cooper places just as much emphasis on what happens in training as in games, though. Santos may not be picking up minutes just yet, but he will still be learning and developing during sessions at the Nigel Doughty Academy. Then, when his time does come, that base work should pay off.
“We’ve really got to get the balance right of integrating these players,” Cooper said after his side’s loss to City. “Some of them have not even got changed today, but they are definitely going to get in our team at some stage if they keep going.”
As with any signing, there is never any guarantee a loan move will work out. Forest have strength in depth – that was one of their key drivers in the transfer window – that means players have to work hard to earn and retain the shirt. But last season showed how the Reds, at various stages, will need everybody – including Santos.