Dexter Blackstock believes Billy Davies' hard work will soon have Nottingham Forest tasting success
APPARENTLY, life playing under Billy Davies literally isn't always a cup of tea. But Dexter Blackstock believes Nottingham Forest will still soon be enjoying the sweet taste of success under his guidance.
The Reds striker revealed the returning manager has already made a catalogue of changes to life at the club, both at the Nigel Doughty Academy and at the City Ground – including stopping the players from entering the training ground kitchen to make themselves a morning cuppa.
Blackstock says he has been astonished by the wide ranging attention to detail shown by the Scot.
But he believes all the minor tinkering from Davies – who takes charge of his second game when Huddersfield visit tonight – will ultimately all add up to significant, positive improvements for Forest.
"I don't drink tea, so it is not a problem for me," said Blackstock. "But some of the lads used to like to go and make themselves a cup of tea when they got to the training ground in the morning. They would go into the kitchen and make it themselves.
"But he has put a stop to that – he says it is the chef's kitchen and we should not be in there.
"We also had a fridge in the dressing room at the City Ground – but he had it taken out, because he felt it was taking up too much space.
"There are little things around the place; little things he has changed. You just know he has been through everything, he has thought about everything. He considers every fine detail. He has cleared a lot of people away from the training ground – like you guys in the media not being allowed up there.
"But it does focus your attention. He does not want distractions. He wants everything to be right.
"He is concentrated on the team; on getting results on the pitch. But he also goes into the finest details.
"If he believes something can be changed that will make life easier or better for the players, he will do it, no matter how insignificant it seems.
"He believes the players are the most important thing at any football club, so he wants to look after us.
"Anything that might make us perform even 1 per cent better, he believes is worth looking at, purely because they all add up and might help us to get the result on a Saturday."
Having been signed by Davies during his first spell in charge, Blackstock knows exactly what to expect from the manager.
And, for Blackstock, that is very much a positive, with the striker admitting it already feels like his former boss had never been away.
"It will take time. He has only just come through the door," he said. "But you can already start to see what he wants.
"He has not changed, from when he was here last. He has his ways of working and he has come back exactly how he left.
"Myself and Chris Cohen were talking and we agreed that, within the space of a week, he has been able to get the whole place close to being back to how it was before.
"From the smallest details to bigger things, he has had an influence on a lot of things.
"He has made so many changes, he has reviewed so many things and made so many decisions. It is amazing what he has done in a week."
One of the most telling observations from Davies after the game on Saturday was over the conditioning of his players.
The manager voiced his concerns over whether the squad were as fit as they might be and said it was something that must be addressed between now and the end of the season. But Blackstock insists this is not something the players are viewing as a criticism.
"I don't think you could ever have a conversation with Billy about conditioning where he did not believe there was not room for improvement," said the striker.
"If you are really, really fit, he will still tell you that you can still get fitter.
"I don't think he meant it as a shot at us. It is just simple, in that the fitter you are, the easier things are for you at the weekend.
"If you find a time when Billy says that a team is fit enough or cannot improve at least a little, I will be surprised.
"It was not a criticism, it was just a question of him setting a higher target for us. It is an ongoing thing."
Although Blackstock does concede that high levels of fitness are vital to the high tempo way Davies demands his players approach the game.
"To play the way that he wants to play, we will need to be fit," he said. "But, from the other point of view, you also know that the opposition are going to need to be very fit to keep up with us.
"If they are not, we will run over teams, as we used to in the past. One of our trademarks was the fact we scored a lot of late goals.
"That came down to fitness. When you get tired, you lose concentration, it is not just about being able to run around, it is about being able to stay focused, to make good decisions late on in games.
"Clean sheets is another thing he will improve, because of that work rate. If you concede goals, you should not automatically look at the back four or the players in the defence.
"Perhaps we can do more, as a team, to help the back four, to ensure they are not so exposed.
"It is a team ethic. All the time we were keeping a clean sheet every other weekend, we did have a good back four and a good keeper.
"But the amount of work that was going on up front and in midfield was also helping the back line.
"It is a collective thing. That is something that he will demand, if we are to keep clean sheets."
And, while their hard work may not always be rewarded with a nice, refreshing cuppa, few at Forest will be complaining if they are collecting points.