Aitor Karanka believes his Nottingham Forest side deserve to be fighting it out among the Championship promotion contenders – because of the attitude they have shown since day one of the season.
The Spaniard was pleased to see his side complete an “amazing” week by recording a 2-0 win over Ipswich at the City Ground, following on from victory at Hull and a remarkable 5-5 draw at Aston Villa.
Lewis Grabban was again a major catalyst, taking his tally to the season to 15 with two more goals, with the striker now having hit five in his last three matches.
But it was the attitude of his entire team, who sit fifth in the table, that pleased Karanka most.
“Since the season has started, this squad and this group of players all deserve credit,” he said.
“Not just the players who are starting or who are on the bench, but all the players. They all deserve credit.
“This group of players deserve to be at the top end of the Championship and beyond that in future; they deserve everything.
“Lewis is a character; he is the kind of player I like, because he always wants more and more.
“With his goals and with his attitude, he helps us a lot. He has a lot of confidence and this week has been amazing in the way that we have approached every single game.
“The commitment and togetherness from everyone has been amazing.”
Karanka felt his side could have won by a much bigger margin, having carved out a host of opportunities, with Grabban, Gil Dias and Michael Hefele all denied by the woodwork.
“We could have won 5-0 or 6-0 but a 2-0 win finished an amazing week for us,” said Karanka.
“It was important for us to finish well and I think we did that.
“I said before the game that it was going to be tough – and it was. But we started really well; we approached it in the right way.
“It was important for us to start well, but with this group of players we can go wherever we want, because they are amazing.”
Ipswich boss Paul Lambert remains convinced that they can claw their way out of the bottom three, if they can retain the spirit he has seen since joining the club.
“If we can stay in the fight, I think we are in a seven-team league at the bottom. If we can get a little bit of help in January, let’s see what happens,” he said.
“Confidence is not an issue. The lads have been great and there is a real good spirit at the club. We will never let that go.”
And Lambert refused to be critical of Bartosz Bialkowski, who fumbled a shot from Tendayi Darikwa, giving Grabban the chance to poach his first of the game.
“I think he is a brilliant goalkeeper and a terrific lad. Mistakes happen,” said Lambert.
“That is the nature of football. It won’t be his first mistake or his last.
“But he is a really top keeper and it would be wrong for me to say anything other than that he has been great for me since I have been here – and mistakes happen.
“You cannot just blame the defence or the keeper, it is a collective thing. We cannot give away sloppy goals against a side of the calibre of Forest, who have invested well.”
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