ALWAYS one to look on the bright side of life, Isaiah Osbourne believes that Forest Green Rovers manager Mark Cooper is building “something special” for the future.
Although the former Aston Villa midfielder signed up for a prolonged fight against relegation when he moved to the New Lawn as a free agent in the autumn, he now sees the green shoots of recovery all around him.
Aided and abetted by eight January signings, Rovers are resurgent on the back of a five-match winning sequence at home that has seen the team move clear of the bottom two and put meaningful daylight between themselves and the League Two drop zone.
All of a sudden, fear of relegation back to the Vanarama National League has been replaced by a mood of cautious optimism as Rovers supporters contemplate a long-term future in The Football League.
An integral part of Forest Green’s recent upturn in fortunes, Osbourne shares that sense of optimism, insisting this is just the start of “something much better”.
“The manager is building something for the future here,” he said. “He’s not building for the here and now, but for next season and the one after that.
“This is a club on the up and it feels a positive place to be right now. We’re climbing the table and, although there is still a lot of work to be done, there’s a feeling that we’re going in the right direction.”
He added: “The new signings have come in and made a big difference to us. You only have to look at performances and results since January to see that.
“For the most part, they are players who are still improving and, more importantly, they are nearly all permanent signings, so they will be here for the foreseeable future.
“We’re still not out of trouble yet and I’m not going to make any big predictions, but I see something special coming together here and I believe exciting times lie ahead for the club.”
Playing for Forest Green has certainly rekindled Osbourne’s enthusiasm for the beautiful game and he admits to “playing with a smile on my face” once more. But his contract expires at the end of the season and, as things stand, his future is uncertain.
Giving nothing away, he said: “We’ll get to the end of the season and then sit down and have a discussion about the future and what it might hold.
“In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy my football and play with a smile on my face. You only have the one life and it’s what you make of it.
“I’ve said all along that I like the way Forest Green play out from the back and that’s the way I want to play my football. I’ve been made to feel very welcome here and I’m really enjoying training and playing with the rest of the squad.
“I feel the team now has a more solid base and that has encouraged the creative players to express themselves a bit more. We’re beginning to look like a proper team, one that can achieve things in this division.”