Aitor Karanka’s furious half-time team talk inspired Nottingham Forest’s second half comeback to earn a 1-1 draw against Bristol City.
The visiting boss was angry over the way his team approached the game at the start and could not wait for the break to put his views across.
City took advantage of Forest’s early lethargy to take a fifth minute lead when Andi Weimann marked his League debut for the Robins with a powerful header from a Niclas Eliasson cross, the ball going in off the underside of the crossbar.
But Forest were even quicker off the blocks at the beginning of the second half after Karanka’s pep talk, Daryl Murphy rising above his marker to send a 46th minute downward header past Niki Maenpaa from Adlene Guedioura’s cross.
Substitute Joe Lolley almost won it for the visitors four minutes from time, but 33-year-old Finland international Maenpaa threw himself to his left to turn away the goal-bound effort from 25 yards.
Karanka was perplexed by the difference between his side’s first half and second half performances.
He said: “There was nothing to put right tactically at half time. Everything came down to attitude and Bristol City had more desire of the ball, while we were looking at it.
“I can understand what happened now, although I didn’t at the time. We had almost a perfect pre-season with no injuries and suddenly the season in a very tough league started with my players not knowing how difficult it would be.
“The way we went onto the pitch at the start was very different to the way Bristol went onto it. In the second half the opposite applied and in the end it was a fair score.
“We showed that when we have the right attitude we are a very good team with a lot of quality players to do good things.
“I can’t tell you exactly what I said at half-time, but it was the medicine the players needed. We had been fragile defensively and didn’t create anything going forward.
“I was more than pretty angry, I was very angry. The second half was so much better and I hope we realise now that the league has started.”
City head coach Lee Johnson agreed it was a fair outcome, but had hoped for more after his side’s incisive start.
“I thought we were excellent in the first 20 minutes and probably unlucky not to go two up,” he said. “They got one off the line and we didn’t make the most of a couple of good situations.
“To be fair to the players it was very hot out there and at the end there were some tired legs in both teams.
“I felt there were a lot of positives for us against a club who have spent a lot of money. Not many teams will come here with five or six really top individual players.
“The atmosphere early in the game was fantastic. Our fans were so loud I was finding it difficult to get instructions out onto the pitch.
“We probably lacked a bit of physical presence up front, but a lot of what we did pleased me and we hung in there defensively when Forest were on top, which was important.
“All in all it was a decent start for us and our new players settled in well.”
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