Monday, 29 December 2008

Crazy Christmas for managerless Reds

I don't watch soap operas. I don't need to. I'm a Forest fan. The twists and turns on Trentside are more intriguing, thrilling and baffling than any TV drama but just like the soaps the ongoing saga at Forest saved its most dramatic storyline for a frantic festive period.

The Boxing day 'special' saw a dismal capitulation to basement rivals Doncaster - putting an end to Colin Calderwood's tenure in the City Ground hotseat.

The leaderless Reds bounced back from the disappointment and emerged from the drama of post-match sacking to earn a superb win at Norwich, which sucked the Canaries into the relegation fight and pushed themselves out of the bottom three at long last.

The Christmas period was a lurch from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again in a gripping plot to match any 'Who Shot Phil?' or 'Emmerdale Plane Crash' soap storyline and the biggest cliffhanger still remains - who will be handed the task of saving the club from relegation?

That Colin Calderwood's management ended in the ignominy of an embarrassing defeat seemed a shame but in the cold light of day his sacking was necessary to try and save the club from the possibility of plummeting to the dreaded reaches of League One.

CC's legacy to the club is a small squad of young, talented players - who have, in fits and starts, shown themselves capable of playing well at Championship level.

A new manager will have to continue to look to Lewis McGugan, Joe Garner, Wes Morgan, Matt Thornhill etc as the basis for the future of the club.

CC's downfall was in not adding steel to the style his players offered.

At key points in the season a lack of experience and nous at full back, centre back and in centre midfield has cost us points. These gaping holes must be plugged in January to avoid the type of disastrous performances that have occurred at unfortunate intervals throughout the campaign, crushing any upward momentum the team had (Wolves, Norwich, Sheff Utd, Doncaster spring to mind).

In those games where the team have played well (which to be fair have been regular enough to warrant optimism) the side is crying out for a calming influence - someone to drive the likes of McGugan on and help hammer home our advantage.

Up front Tyson's electric pace, Earnshaw's poaching prowess and Garner's tireless tenacity provide variety that could be expanded on with the addition of someone with strength and guile. Another body would also be extremely welcome for the strike force after the failure of the Andy Cole experiment.

The squad does not need dismantling and re-building - it needs toughening up. Any new boss should not put a stop to the stylish football being played but should try to ensure that dominant performances are turned into a more plentiful plunder of points.

And the man to do that is.........well that's for another episode of the City Ground soap saga. I'll certainly be on the edge of my seat for the next installment.....

Monday, 1 December 2008

CC clings on as Reds record overdue home win

They say a cat has nine lives - and Forest's arch feline Colin Calderwood seems to have used a fair few of his in time at the helm on Trentside. Not put off by relentless speculation about his future at the club the Reds' renaissance man earned a respite with a 1-0 win at home to Barnsley - the first win at the City Ground since Watford were toppled back in August.

You have to hand it to him - he certainly picks his moments to pick up a result. Whether you think he's the man for the job or not CC seems a likeable guy. That may not be the most important of traits but I it does stop many wanting to join a witch hunt to get him out a la Megson and Kinnear. Unlike the chaos of the latter pairs respective eras he also seems on good terms with his squad and the team are still 'playing for him'.

He was professional throughout the last 'rumour-rich' seven days and was refreshingly open about his fate should three points not be earned against a Tykes side that has so far done an admirable job to remain at arms length of the relegation battle they were expected to be embroiled in.

He remained composed and focussed on the task in hand. When reports suggested that the club had held talks with ex-Sheep Billy Davies it seemed to be a case of 'back him or sack him'. Whilst he wasn't sacked the silence from the club was telling going into Saturday's all important clash (certainly compared to say the speed of which the ridiculous buyout rumours were quashed by Mark 'we're serious' Arthur). Some say to comment would have merely given the 'dreaded' vote of confidence - but the vote of confidence has only become dreaded because it is rarely sincere. Boardroom silence was not exactly a ringing endorsement to ease pressure on CC and not the best of backdrops to Saturday's game.

Calderwood, however, seems to relish the role of comeback kid. When all seemed lost in last year's promotion chase he kept his head and steered us home (albeit with the aide of a slice of luck and Carlisle completely bottling a seemingly unassailable positition). Now he's pulled another rabbit from his magic hat to pick up a precious three points. He took a calculated risk on Brendan Moloney and let loose Earnie, Tys and Garner together and it worked.

The stats now read one defeat in seven games - but they do also still read three wins in 20. CC hasn't saved himself yet and for the sake of his own sanity and the clubs survival bid he needs to ensure it doesn't take the brink of disaster for another important win to be earned.

He had bought time with the win but last year's turnaround result (Carlisle away) was built on with more impressive results - this one must be followed up in a similar way, starting with a trip to the Ricoh Arena, or old Col' the Cat may well find he runs out of lives after all......

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Limbo time as CCs tenure hangs in the balance

Another important fixture, another winless game. Colin Calderwood may have been happy with the performance and the way we fought our way back into the game but is it enought to save his skin?

Our survival bid has stuttered along in recent weeks with draws not enough to pull us closer to the pack. Charlton and Watford have recently parted company with the men at the helm and with the inevitable kick-start in fortunes that that will bring our position at the foot of the table was perilous.

A trusted Donny fan friend of mine said Tuesday's encounter was a poor game and looked very much like two struggling teams struggling against each other - both of whom would've tasted defeat if up against another side in the division. In fact with James Coppinger's strike possibly crossing the line things could've been much worse.

The end of the game brought the first really audible 'Calderwood Out' chants from the Tricky diehards - and Calderwood was unwise to dismiss them as an insignificant minority. With just two wins in 19 games grumblings should be expected.

The calls for his head continued from the cyber warriors and the national press linked us with the likes of Davies, Dowie, Allardyce and Boothroyd which seemed to me to be simply the papers compiling a list of out of work bosses to match up with a bottom of the table side.

However, whispers and gossip aplenty kept whisking its way around the world wide web - surely Arthur was to be wheeled out for the obligatory 'vote of confidence' statement today??

A trusted friend then heard Big Sam was out of the running but Davies was in the frame - a mixed message, did that mean CC was due for the boot?? Was an announcement imminent? The rumour mill was steadily heating up to a frenzy.

Then the Evening Post website confirmed that Big Sam wants a Prem job (Blackburn it is then...) and that Billy Davies has held preliminary talks with us.

I know the Post doesn't have the best of reputations among the masses following the 'It's Baggio' debacle but surely they must feel confident to put this story out. If true it strikes as odd - why conduct talks for a position that isn't vacant?

As the day ends we're left with more questions than answers - Are we talking with Billy? Is anyone else in the running? Will CC get the boot? Will the board move to confirm or deny the many managerial stories out there on the net? Will we sign anyone before the end of the loan window?

It's been a day of rumour, intrigue and plot - hopefully by this time tomorrow we'll have the answers!

Monday, 24 November 2008

D-Day at Doncaster

Another game, another post match sinking feeling fuelled by frustration and utter dejection. It was like the last four games never happened and tame, toothless Forest returned with a bang and failed to put 10-man Norwich away.

To be fair to the Canaries they did well with a man down for so long in the game but you get the feeling that we really let them off the hook. For some reason the second half was characterised by long hopeless lumps up towards Tyson - who desperately tried to use his pace to trouble their back line.

Norwich were not just a 10 man team in the second half but they had also been forced to move ex red Clingan into centre back. The fact that we didn't properly try to exploit this weakness was another in a string of failings.

The game was seen as a massive opportunity to pull closer to one of the pack of teams above, even before the sending off of Gary Doherty. Now suddenly, after a half decent run of late the fact we couldn't convert draws into wins has come back to haunt us and we're back rooted to the bottom of the table.

Last season's visit to the Keepmoat was in a way a turning point. Defeat there left virtually all of the faithful (yours truly included) resigned to missing out on automatic promotion but sparked a reaction in the players that helped bring about the triumphant run-in to the season.

Can we really afford to lose there again to cause the players to start picking up the points we need? It may be further from the end of the season but this game seems every bit as important as last year's League One promotion clash - the impact of going four points adrift at the bottom and potentially nine points from safety is unthinkable.

I never thought i'd be clamouring for Ian Breckin's return but that's exactly one of the things I think has to happen if we are to emerge victorious in Yorkshire tomorrow.

Breckin is simple but effective and does not make the type of lacklustre errors that Wilson made to gift Croft a crossing opportunity for Norwich's first goal. Although not the best captain we've had, 'Breckinbauer' is also a better leader of the team than Wilson.

Central midfield is also somewhere we could do with a leader right now but the lack of talent there is slightly worrying. Perch battles on manfully but really needs a partner and whilst Thornhill looks to have great potential we need something a bit more in times of need - something which we don't really appear to have on the books. Cohen has been excellent recently, but only because he's been moved to a wider position and looks to be over-awed when asked to control a game from the centre.

Up front we are crying out for Earnie to return. A striker that will pounce on a half chance is just what we need. We fashioned enough openings to win the game on Saturday but were not clinical enough to put them away. None of them were perhaps what you would call gilt-edged but you can't rely on 'gimme' openings at this level and have to put away a fair few half-chances.

Unfortunately it appears that Earnie will not be available for the Doncaster encounter. However, it must be said that Tyson's pace is perhaps more effective away from home on the break and we should still cause them difficulties. Doncaster are a team that had been playing well and not winning like ourselves but recently have picked up a couple of decent results. They're a stylish footballing side and are likely to dominate possession so counter attacking play with Anderson, Tyson etc could be crucial to success.

However it happens though CC must pull something out of the bag here. The Derby criticism amnesty he enjoyed, followed by praise for some decent performances and results was wiped away with a pathetic second half against Norwich. The mood of the supporters, and indeed the players, could get colder than the weather with a defeat in Doncaster...........

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Important run starts today

Long time no blog! In fact I was last typing away in the glorious aftermath of a derby game that was utterly ridiculous yet strangely satisfying. The last four games didn't look like bringing much joy - with 3 away trips and league favourites Birmingham at home. However, six points, no defeats and some encouraging results have at least brought hope for a turnaround.

The doom-mongers (and there are plenty out there on the net) will quite rightly point out that we have won only one of those games - despite having the chances and possession to take more points. They will also note that no clean sheets were recorded in that run and we have shown a tendency to give away a lead.

These points are all perfectly valid but the fact remains that had we had more points in the bag before 6 points and those performances in those four fixtures would have been a very decent return. The important games now lay ahead for Calderwood and his merry men.

The next 3 in particular see us host Norwich, travel to Doncaster and then welcome Barnsley to the City Ground. The points accrued from the last games gave us a decent foundation but it is in these that we need to pick up the points to get out of the relegation zone.

The Canaries clash is worryingly televised this evening but it is time we shook off the camera hoodoo and put Roeder's charges to the sword. Their team has some impressive names with the likes of Lita, Lupoli and Sibierski likely to trouble Champinship defences, but their position in the league and propensity to leak goals means we should be seeing them off.

Ex red Sammy Clingan also returns to the banks of the Trent for this encounter and I'll be interested to see what reception he gets. I thought he was incredibly over-rated here and I never quite warmed to him like some fans did. I aksi got the impression he thought he was switching from us to the big time with Norwich so itd be good to get one over on him today!

Earnie looks as though he's back from injury against his former employers but it will be interesting to see if CC throws him straight back into the line-up - especially given the impressive form of Joe Garner and the recently re-invigorated Nathan Tyson. I personally think he'll remain on the bench.

Three points is crucial for me - not only would that build on the steady-but-impressive progression of recent weeks but sets us up nicely for the trip up the A1 to Donny. Conversely we don't want to be going there with the danger of being set adrift at the bottom.

The season hangs on a knife edge - nothing will be decided in three games time but a positive or a negative swing either way could be extremely influential into how the remainder pans out.

Come on you reds!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Camp and Attwell deny sheep in derby day drama....

'Robbed, mugged, beaten up and dumped in the gutter' - that was Paul Jewell's assessment of how he felt post match on Sunday. Great isn't it?! Let's face it - Stuart Attwell is our 'coffee cup'!

Before the frantic finale I was not overly impressed with Sundays officiating - with McGugan's red card and a poor offside decision against Garner indicating that we may not get the rub of the green. But then came the unforgettable climax.

A ridiculous penalty decision against Chambers saw one Addison header chalked off and then, after a glorious penalty save and another heroic effort from the resulting corner from Camp (more on him later), came Attwell's crowning glory. He inexplicably ruled out another goal - leaving eggs on the faces of those sheep botherers - Jewell included - who were already wheeling away in celebration.

That moment and the sheep's subsequent indignation was priceless.

But although Attwell wrote his name into Forest-Derby history in a baffling Roche-esque fashion, there were plenty of positives about the Reds' performance that shouldn't be forgotten.

Firstly - take a bow Lee Camp. The fact that a Derby fan saved Forest in such a superb manner is remarkable - but the passion he showed after not only diving to his right for a jaw-droppingly brilliant save from a Parasite (that's his name right??!) penalty and a fabulous finger tip stop to deny Thatpolishbloke-czak (also correct I think!) from the resulting corner was just incredible. As Calderwood quite rightly said - those few moments alone will win him a special place in Forest folklore. Someone sign him up!

As a team we probably played some of the 'uglier' football seen played by a Forest side this season. McCleary and Anderson never really settled, Lynch had nervy moments and Earnie was largely quiet on his return to the Sheepdip. However, there was a visible team spirit and gritty work ethic on show that was encouraging for what looks like being a long slog of a season.

Breckin's basic style seems suited to our current circumstances and his presence gave us an experienced head and someone who knew Elington well.

A special mention must also go to Joe Garner. The half-fit summer signing battled hard and proved a nuisance for the sheep backline when he was on the field. He looks to have a 'nasty' streak which pleases me greatly - we've been too nice in front of goal this year and now we've got someone who defenders will definitely not enjoy playing against. He also played one absolutely stunning ball out to Anderson with the outside of his foot - showing he has style to add to his endeavour.

The players showed the type of fight and determination which may be taken for granted by the outsider for these such occasions but given our recent showings at the wrong end of the A52 this was a refreshing change.

Perhaps this result and showing may help build an affinity between players and fans that has been lacking in recent years. It's felt a long while since the boys in the Garibaldi have been 'loved' by the masses - shown by the fact that barely a new chant has been started for any of them for five years. It will need more than just one game but maybe the passion of Garner and heroics of Camp will warrant a closer connection with the players after years of ins and outs and underwhelming performances had seemingly severed the bond.

And what of Calderwood? Teetering on the edge of a supporter revolt this time last week ol' CC must surely have bought himself some time now. A win at Palace and a point at Derby is a great start towards a rescue package but its only a start. It's an horrendous cliche but our Stranraer supremo will need to make this a turning point.

But let's worry about the five point gap and the visit of Birmingham later. For now it's time to be proud of the boys......and laugh at the sheep of course!

You Reds!!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Visit to the sheep beckons

Hallelujah! A win! It seems so long since the enthralling Watford victory back in August but CC and the boys and finally bagged three valuable points at Palace.

The win helps wipe out the memory of the home defeat to Warnock's charges earlier in the month and brings to an end a torrid run away from the relative comfort of the City Ground.

Barnsley's win at Doncaster meant that the victory took us off the basement for the time being but in turn meant that no ground was made towards the Holy Grail of a safe spot in the league table. That means that, still six points adrift, CC will need to hope his side can build on this result to avoid dropping perilously ten points or more away from the pack following huge tests at home to Birmingham and a tricky trip to Bristol City.

But while the points total is a concern the return to winning ways is especially timely given the season's biggest away game lies tantalisingly on the horizon. The bitter enemy awaits at the end of the A52 - let battle commence.

Derby should be strong at home, they should be featuring in the promotion reckoning and they have a strong squad. But have the weaknesses of character from the long 'laughing stock' run fully disappeared? Let's see if roly-poly Scouse boss Jewell and his Rams have the stomach for the pressure cooker atmosphere of a derby game.

To test this Forest must be tougher than they have been. Julian Bennett will be missed but the likes of Wes, Breckin, Cohen, McGugan and the impressive looking Garner through the spine of the side will have to make their presence felt. Under Kinnear in the last Prideless Park debacle Forest stood off and looked frightened to get stuck in - that cannot happen again.

Earnshaw and Garner has the makings of a tasty partnership that can cause problems and Calderwood should look to set them both loose on Sunday. Despite his professional comments to the media Earnie will surely have an added incentive to make an impact in this game - and how sweet it would be for him and us if he got the winning goal to rub the sheep bothering faithful's noses in it.

The midfield on Tuesday seemed to work well. Two out and wingers has left us open in the centre so having Cohen as one of the wide men seemed to stop us getting overran and brought out the best of Cohen - someone who had contributed little recently. It sounded a flexible set up too - with McGugan and Cohen able to interchange and McCleary with licence to roam when possible. It's likely that Perch's role will be handed back to Fletcher and Perch put back at right back - moves that should hopefully make the side more solid.

CC will hope Tuesday's excellent win will be a turning point. A defeat would wash away the optimism earned in the capital and could be devastating. However, following that up with a win at the home of the old enemy could turn the tide for him in the long term not only in terms of accumulating points at this level but cementing his own place in the City Ground hotseat.

Monday, 27 October 2008

The hunt for the winning formula continues

One positive to come from this weekend - it's not my fault! I wasn't at the game but in my absence Forest returned to the standard match day script from this season - playing well but with no reward.

CC says the signs are there to say we will win games - his doubters point to the abysmal points total as evidence for their lack of faith.

To me at the heart of it all is a tactical conundrum that is yet to be resolved. When we play 442, such as against Ipswich, we are overran and struggle to get enough of the ball to carve teams up. I think that's indicative of the fact that Cohen, Fletcher, Perch, Moussi etc don't have the quality or stature to boss games.

To negate that CC plays a 451/433. Having three players in the middle of midfield ensures plenty of possession and in general has seen us play with greater panache. Winger-cum-striker players such as McCleary, Martin, Davies and Anderson can flourish in that line up but the flaw in the plan is with the role of the striker.

Earnshaw is proven at this level - but doesn't look to relish a lone ranger role. Cole doesn't have the pace, Tyson the quality/nous or Garner the experience to take on that mantle either and therefore we struggle to get goals.

So we're left with either playing poorly but having a greater goal threat vs playing well but toothless.

What's the way out of this? I'm not sure. I don't profess to be a master tactician but a solution needs to be found to help us both dominate games and pose a threat in front of goal. We don't have the wing backs to play 352, nor would a diamond formation suit given the strength we have with wide men.

It's a big headache for Calderwood - and one he must overcome in the face of a tough looking line up of games at Palace, the Sheep, hosting Birmingham and away at Bristol City, if he is to save the season and his own skin.......

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Disjointed, disappointing and in disarray.....

A 1-1 draw at home to Ipswich may have bought the first league point in five games but it did little to say that Forest are about to go on a run that will drag them back up to safety.

In what was comfortably the worst showing at the City Ground this season the Reds were unable to even rely on the old 'we played well but....' line. Quite simply towards the end it was amateurish.

The night had the doomed forebearings of a relegation battle for the first time at home. With 24 hours to contemplate and cool down somewhat here's a stab at rating the dismal showing -

Lee Camp - 7
Was a little lucky not to be beaten by a rasping Jon Walters strike which rebounded off the bar but overall looked alert, solid and was unlucky not to save Tommy Miller's penalty. Looked to be proactive with his distribution but wasn't helped towards the end by the woeful lack of forward options.

Luke Chambers - 4
Desperately needs to be dropped. Is not good enough for this level and looks increasingly shorn of confidence now that he is starting to realise this. Weak in the tackle, not strong enough on the ball, poor in the air and appalling crossing - these attributes have defined his season and were all shown in this match. Many argue that he's 'out of position' but these inadequacies would not make a start at centre back any more desirable.

Julian Bennett - 6
One super tackle in the first half denied a clear goal scoring chance and although people criticise his use of the ball he was missed when the hapless Lynch took his place. His injury will be a blow and leaves us without a proper full back in the squad.

Kelvin Wilson - 5
His casual, bordering on cocky, play is costing us on too many occasions. His distribution is frankly far worse than Wes' and he does not look as strong in the tackle or in the air as his defensive partner. Must improve.

Wes Morgan - 7
Tackled and headed well in a sound showing against the tricky Pablo Counago. Also weighed in with some heroic blocks. Played one cracking scooped ball towards the end of the game which was 10 times better than what the midfield had come up with all game - which said alot about the abject display of those in front of him.

Paul Anderson - 6
Looked quick and lively on the right wing but his team mates failed to get the ball to him in telling positions on enough occasions and had very little to cross at. Conceded the penalty when tracking back.

Carl Fletcher - 4
I'm trying to think of a more inept home debut in a Reds shirt than this one. Barely had a touch all game and severely struggled to win the ball back.

Chris Cohen - 3
Was an absolute shambles from start to finish. I get fed up of people bleating on about his hard work. He chased shadows, hardly won a tackle all game, didn't have a shot and his passing was atrocious. Often looked too slow and too weak for this level. It said alot about him and his central midfield partner Fletcher that McGugan had to be brought on to shore up a midfield that was totally and utterly overran.

Garath McCleary - 5
Scored a very good goal but struggled to make an impact on the left - often finding no way past a solid looking Mauritz Volz.

Andrew Cole - 6
I actually thought he worked hard in the first half and looked as though he could slide through a telling ball which is more than can be said for the awful midfield. Never had a sniff in the box.

Nathan Tyson - 5
Looked completely out of his depth. Isn't strong enough on the ball and doesn't have the creative talents to set up chances for team mates. Worked hard but was isolated at the end when forced to play up front on his own.

Subs -
Joel Lynch - 4
I felt a little sorry for him when he came on and received a stiff challenge straight away. Never settled after that but nevertheless it must be said that he looked woeful on the ball and a little bit of a defensive liability. I fear we may have stumbled across the left back version of Chambers.

Lewis McGugan - 6
Came on and straight away looked positive - playing a decent through ball and trying his luck with a shot from the edge of the area. Let himself down at the death with the odd lazy touch and a poor free kick.

Lee Martin - 5
Gone is the effervescent livewire winger that arrived on loan from Man Utd and in his place is a poor, sloppy, pale imitation who, when on as a substitute did nothing at all.

The team as a whole failed to get the best out of McCleary and Anderson on the wings. Fletcher and Cohen were pitiful and their inability to get a foothold in the midfield battle meant Calderwood felt compelled to bring on McGugan. The only problem with this was that in order to bring Lewis on CC took off Cole and thus halved our already paltry goalscoring threat - leaving the naieve Tyson to fend off meagre scraps.

At the end we saw Lynch shanking the ball out of play, Cohen and Fletcher chasing shadows in men vs boys midfield contest, Chambers putting over two dreadful centres and getting caught out at the back, Tyson desperately unable to make an impact on his own and Martin blasting the ball out of play in a shockingly bad attempt to buy a corner. Taken as a whole this shoddy play looked dreadful.

The signs were not good. As a result the club will attempt to paint this as a potential turning point. As a performance it may be a very different type of turning point.

A much better showing is needed on Saturday to lift the doom and gloom that sadly appeared to be setting in against Ipswich......

Monday, 20 October 2008

Calderwood on trial as Tractor Boys roll into town

The international break failed to provide a break in Forest's poor form so far since their return to The Championship. More neat, promising, but ultimately toothless play was followed by two defensive lapses and an inevitable defeat at Loftus Road.

The internet forums have been alight with anti-Calderwood sentiment since the QPR defeat and while the wider crowd (which always seems to be less miltant than the keyboard warrior hoardes) has yet to turn - two home games this week could prove crucial for CC's plans to revive his sides flagging fortunes.

The bedrock of last year's promotion charge was the Reds' sound home form and the City Ground must become a more plentiful hunting ground for points given the inability to pick up a single point away so far.

With Earnshaw and Garner unlikely to be ready to challenge Tyson and Cole it seems as though the major selection headaches will surround the goalkeeping and midfield starting berths.

I don't see the point of bringing in Lee Camp on loan to warm the bench so I'd throw him in and in midfield, if fit, I think Lewis McGugan has to start. His long range shots and dead ball ability bring a source of goals that is sadly lacking with Chris 'Good Engine' Cohen in the midfield. He should be a good foil for the robust Fletcher and McCleary and Anderson should be a danger down both flanks if allowed to continue starting roles.

Bennett could be set to miss out while the news is quiet on Perch's condition so it seems as though Chambers-Morgan-Wilson-Lynch could be the back line.

They will be faced by the tricky Spaniard Pablo Counago and Jon Stead, who will offer a tough test, but Ipswich are traditionally a side that, although talented, don't travel well from Portman Road.

For many fans the spotlight will be on Calderwood - his selection, tactics and reaction to events as they pan out across the 90 minutes will be important to try and conjure an all important three points.

A win will ease the perilous predicament at the foot of the table but a loss might just see the internet hostility transferred to the terraces - something that managers struggle to return from.

This blogger is old enough to have seen off a fair few Forest bosses over the last turbulent two decades and back in the mists of time a fresh face often used to seem the best way to kick start on the field fortunes. Bassett, P***tt, Hart, Megson, Kinnear etc have all had a ride on the Forest managerial merry-go-round but the changes have merely brought a glut of false dawns. I've no appetite for change (or indeed a clue about who could take charge if CC was sacked) and am more inclined to stick with him for now than some.

Clubs such as Coventry, Leicester and Southampton seem to change their manager every year and make absolutely no progress. In fact all three have got gradually worse since their relegation from the Premier League with the possible exception of the Sky Blues who look half-decent this term. I don't want us to fall into the cycle of appointing a new boss every year and having a squad in constant flux.

As the old cliche goes the 'grass is not always greener' and CC, having been backed by Doughty's millions, has to have time to try and prove that investment was not misguided.

Most fans will not give him much longer however and the Ipswich and Cardiff games will be crucial in deciding whether Forest can avoid being cut adrift at the bottom and whether Calderwood continues in the City Ground hotseat. No pressure then..................

Friday, 17 October 2008

Hope for a fresh start with London calling.....

Forest travel to Queens Park Rangers this weekend knowing that the next ten games must bring more points than the first ten. The visit to Loftus Road will be the first since being condemned to the depths of League One on that ground - and the travelling Tricky Trees will be hoping for a much happier visit tomorrow.

A poor total of five points so far has left Reds fans and Colin Calderwood frustrated, disappointed and searching for a way out.

Just as the players have enjoyed a break for the international fixtures to take place I've flown off to foreign shores for my own overseas break so ahead of the Loftus Road showdown seems as good a time as any to assess the news/issues on Trentside.......

*Firstly, the last fortnight has been filled with rumours surrounding CCs job security thanks to the paltry points total. It seems obvious to me that Nigel Doughty rates CC highly and will give him time to turn things around. Doughty likes the fact that CC buys into his vision of a young, improving squad with great potential and sees the Stranraer supremo in the same light in managerial terms. Doughty also wants to create stability at the club - which he hopes can be achieved by keeping on to Calderwood, who is the 19th longest serving manager in the football league now!

All the gossip about Big Sam et al seems a little premature. It would take a disastrous run of the late Paul Hart era's proportions to make Doughty act. A bad end to October and a poor showing down the A52 may tip things against CC but he was never going to act so soon.

*The Ireland trip warrants little note other than that it showed a) our inability to find the back of the net without Earnie and b) that the likes of Garner are on their way back to finally have an impact on our on the field fortunes.

*The injured players' return will be crucial for a CC revival. To be fair to him the creative and attacking talents of Paul Anderson, Lewis McGugan, Robert Earnshaw and Joe Garner should increase our potency in the final third.

*Good news and bad news came at the end of the break. Carl Fletcher, the industrious Wales international should add some steel and competitive edge to the midfield after being drafted in on loan but he was surely primarily drafted in to deal with the Guy Moussi sized hole in the side following the Frenchman's injured in the Palace home game.

Reflection, speculation, a hopeful injury situation and a signing then all lead into the big game in the capital. The away games so far have shown little cause for optimism and CC will need to have used his fortnight to devise a masterplan to topple one of the division's most unpredictable sides.

With question marks over the lack of fitness of many of the returning players it is difficult to know what he will come up with. Will he once again rely on the pace of Martin and Tyson for a breakaway counter attacking game or will Cole's nous be preferred?

If forced to predict I feel he will go with - Smith, Chambers, Bennett, Wilson, Morgan, Perch, Fletcher, Cohen, Martin, Tyson, Earnshaw with Cole, Anderson, Davies, McGugan and Breckin on the bench.

I think we have the ability to take a point away from the game - which could be enough to spark a revival if backed up by the subsequent two home games. We must however, take at least something to avert the spiralling slide to League One oblivion, the harsh reality of which we all felt when we last left Loftus Road......

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Cut adrift after toothless display

It was the same old story again at the City Ground as Forest produced sporadic stylish interludes of play against Palace but woefully lacked a cutting edge and were duly punished.

Paul Ifill's piledriver and Shefki Kuqi's opportunist chip after a disastrous Paul Smith mistake added more misery onto an abysmal start to the season, leaving the Reds five points adrift of safety.

Player ratings -

Paul Smith - 5
Heaven alone knows what he was playing about going walkabout to gift Shefki Kuqi the chance to finish the game. Not only did he make the wrong decision to come rushing out but he did not seem to bust a gut to try and scramble back and rescue the situation.

James Perch - 6
Didn't do an awful lot wrong and certainly looks more assured at right back than Chambers.

Julian Bennett - 7
Was perhaps our best attacking threat throughout the game, both through forward runs and headers from corners - although perhaps should've scored with one of three decent chances.

Kelvin Wilson - 6
Comfortable enough at the back and nearly scored with a late desperate long range effort. Looks classy but that doesn't hide the fact that he plays lazy balls from the back that are in truth more wasteful than those of his much maligned defensive partner.

Wes Morgan - 6
Occasional sloppy touches will do nothing to ease the at times unfair criticism he gets. Didn't really allow Beattie to have much of an impact but unfortunately he didn't need to for Palace to collect the points.

Guy Moussi - 6
Had a poor start with weak touches and wayward passing but picked up as the game went on. Still fails to live up to the hype that grew up after his towering showing in the season curtain raiser against Reading.

Chris Cohen - 5
I'm fed up of the 'Chris has got a great engine' line. Does an awful lot of running but when does he ever change a game? Great at winning a throw in or playing a precise ball on the half way line but doesn't hurt the opposition in either penalty area and lacks strength.

Matt Thornhill - 6
Started quite well and wins his fair share of tackles but never really got on the ball in dangerous areas to make a telling impact on the game and faded a little before being substituted.

Lee Martin - 5
Full of flicks and tricks but again doesn't hurt the opposition. Wasted a series of free kicks and corners and was rightly substituted.

Garath McCleary - 7
Should be praised for his direct, dangerous forward runs. Was unsettled by CC swapping flanks but deserves to hold down a starting role.

Nathan Tyson - 5
Like Martin and Cohen he looks the part but does nothing to hurt the opposition. He has pace but little else to test a Championship defence and desperately needs a partner (Cole perhaps) to play up front with with. Serious doubts remain about whether this level is just too high for him.

Subs - Andrew Cole showed some half decent touches but for me should've started after apparently starting to show some form at Hillsborough. Arron Davies was as anonymous as ever and Luke Chambers still managed to look weak despite only being on for a short time after Guy Moussi went off injured.

We might not be the worst side in the division for a propensity for flamboyant possession but in terms of scoring goals and earning wins the facts are plain. We are bottom of the league and desperately need to find an improvement before we are cut even further adrift.

The old adage of 'judge the table after 10 games' is coming back to haunt Calderwood. People are doing just and it's making sorry, sorry reading.

The desperate chopping and changing of personnel and formations is not working. Tyson simply cannot play at the helm of a 433/451 which seems a formation more suited to an away, counter attacking game. However, CC doesn't seem to trust the likes of Cohen and Moussi to run a game in midfield and appears to believe we will be overran by the opposition in a 442.

We can't rely on Garner and Anderson to come straight into the side and save us. Neither is proven at this level and will need games under their belt to settle into the side.

The lack of defensive and midfield signings in the summer was naive and CC seems to be realising that now. Like his players he will be learning the challenges this division brings - he needs to learn fast and come up with a winning formula by the time the international break is over or this could be a long, long season.....

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Hunt for the red October

After a mere one point in five games September was something of a disaster for Forest and has left Colin Calderwood with a number of headaches. Who should play at right back? Are Wes and Wilson the right centre back pairing? Is Guy Moussi not as good as first thought? Who should play up front? Can anyone but Earnshaw score? And, of course, what formation should we play?

Each of these questions, and many more, have got the tongues wagging on the terraces and CC has a great deal on his plate as the loathsome Warnock and his Palace side travel up to Nottingham.

The game has suddenly taken on huge importance given both teams' poor start and CC desperately needs it to kick start a more plentiful month in the points column, especially with 3 games in the relative comfort of the City Ground in October. He will at least be spared from any potential flak in the early stages given the hatred felt towards his opposite number.

In the last two home outings Forest have started off fast and furious, dominating the opposition, only then to fade badly and peter out to a defeat (Burnley) and draw (Charlton). This time a good start is needed but a result is paramount. The stylish interplay seen between the likes of Cohen, Martin and Earnshaw must have a cutting edge.

This time CC would be relieved to walk into a post-match interview and talk about a lucky win rather than an unfortunate defeat.

Andy Cole's continued presence in the line-up and improvement needs to bear fruit - his goals and experience could be vital to lift us out of the basement.

Martin needs to find the final killer ball at the end of his marauding runs and the defence needs to work as a unit and not give away penalties/free kicks/freak goals.

On top of that CC needs to get it right. 442/433/451/532 have all been unsuccessfully tried and less important than the choice made for Saturday is common sense - the formation needs to encourage the players to flourish rather than inhibit them. No more strikers on the wing, centre backs at full back and pint sized forwards competing for headers against towering centre backs.

It's time for the players and manager to draw on their strengths and prove they deserve to be in this league. No more excuses or hard luck stories - it's time for a win.....

Friday, 19 September 2008

Headaches aplenty as Addicks come to town...

A disappointing defeat to the Clarets last week was followed by an inevitable reverse in the tough trip to Preston - piling more and more importance onto the City Ground encounter with Charlton tomorrow.

Calderwood goes into the game having changed his personnel and formation for the Deepdale visit. By all accounts the changes brought mixed success and more chopping and changing will be needed for Saturday's line up.

CC needs to decide what to do with the principal headache of sorting the defence. With Chambers finding the step up in class too much and Heath still inexperienced Wilson and Cohen were favoured in midweek. Moving those two players to unfavoured positions would mean losing Wilson calm classy influence at centre back and Cohen's energy in midfield. If CC doesn't rate Chambers and Heath then replacements who are natural full backs should be sought. I think for the time being it will be better to stay with the full backs we have rather than putting more square pegs into very round holes.

The Burnley game also saw Forest look disjoined in attack. Martin and Tyson were swapped around too many times and there was a lack of rhythm to the play as a result.

For me CC, given his like for 433/451, hould opt for


Chambers (unfortunately)



With Cole, Tyson, Thornhill, Breckin, Roberts on the bench. Hopefully that would allow the swashbuckling attacking play that put paid to Watford to make a welcome return.

A lot will be placed on tomorrow's game. With two away games to follow and the table already taking shape CC won't want to remain in the relegation zone for long....

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.......

Disappointment and frustration were in abundance amongst the Forest faithful following a 2-1defeat at the hands of Burnley.

After an opening 25 minutes in which the Reds were stroking the ball around the superb City Ground pitch with considerable style and aplomb the bubble was well and truly burst by an awesome long range free kick from veteran Graham Alexander.

It hardly seemed just given the dominance Calderwood's boys enjoyed in that period but they were unable to turn much of that impressive possesion into chances and Nathan Tyson had blazed over the best opening. If anything the players were coming up with the type of pay suitable for a 3-0 lead rather than 0-0 early on and perhaps lost sight of the task in hand.

After the break Forest came out re-invigorated and got a deserved equaliser through fox-in-the-box Earnshaw from close range. The goal came at a point in the game when Burnley's play descended into what at times was a cynical, physical game to nullify the nimble Earnshaw and in particular Tyson.

The referee seemed to wait too long to reach for his pocket and allowed the ploy to continue to an unsuitable extent.

The evergreen Robbie Blake added guile to an otherwise solid but workmanlike side. An unfortunate handball and penalty decision ensued and after Alexander had doubled his tally Calderwood threw all his firepower on, only for the game to become too scrappy and disorganised and Forest's threat quickly petered out - giving the Clarets a three points they didn't in truth deserve.

Burnley were certainly there for the taking but their performance highlighted some of the flaws in Calderwood's side. Their strength, organisation and experience from the likes of Alexander and Caldwell gave them the mental toughness that Forest lacked when everything went wrong at Wolves.

Tyson and Martin's constant interchanging meanwhile created confusion and a lack of shape up front. The side looked much more potent against Wolves with a 'set' forward line that ad Martin on the left (where he can come inside for his favourite curlng shots) and McCleary on the right, who as at times nervy but stuck to his guns and will improve.

Having said that Tuesday's line up must feature Cole. His experience and know-how will be vital away from home and the ball should stick with him better than the scattergun Tyson and poaching supremo Earnshaw. The tests for CC come thick and fast and the lack of result here simply creates another conundrum to be cracked with 3 of the next 4 games away from home.

Player ratings -

Smith - 7
Not at fault for a brilliant free kick or penalty that wrong footed him.

Chambers - 6
After much criticism over the last 2 weeks started well but as the game wore on he looked less and less assured and his lack of strength and poor use of the ball are a worry.

Heath - 6
Nervy at times but came through the game largely unscathed. Crossing looked Ok but unfair to expect him to attack ala Bennett straight away.

Morgan - 6
I don't understand the level of criticism he faces. Some slack touches let him down slightly but dealt well with a largely quiet attack, especially ineffectual debutant Thompson.

Wilson - 6
While Wes' one or two off-colour touches let him down so too did the occasional 'lazy' ball from Kelvin. Is, however, a calming influence and gives a better balance to the back line than Breckin.

Moussi - 6
Some over elaborate touches created problems and as the sides superiority waned so too did his influence.

Perch - 7
Some excellent covering tackles showed his worth in the defensive midfield position. Like Moussi was less of an influence after Burnley scored.

Cohen - 8
I never really 'get' Chris. Is he a box-to-box midfielder? An attacking midfielder? A cultured playmaker? Jack of all trades, master of none?? In this game however I thought he was awesome. Drove forward well, tackled back tirelessley and sparked off Martin and Earnshaw for some high tempo attacking play in the early stages. If he keeps this up even I'll stop moaning about him!

Tyson - 6
Was undoubtedly 'roughed up' a bit by Burnley to nullify his pacy threat. Never comfortable on the right and ran out of ideas towards the end.

Earnshaw - 7
Was in the right place at the right time for the goal which is exactly why the chequebook was called into action for his services. Tried to be inventive with some neat turns etc but needs better service at times.

Martin - 6
Faded after the first half an hour and constant switching of flanks inerrupted his flow.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Over to you Colin

As if picking the team up from a 5-1 demolition in the Black Country wasn't enough Colin Calderwood heads into this weekends City Ground clash against Burnley with something of a tactical headache after yet more players checked into the treatment room.

At left back it seems as though it is a straight choice between Joe Heath and Chris Cohen to fill Julian Bennett's considerable shoes. Cohen apparently started off at left back and CC may well opt to put him in given his experience at first team level but his selection in defence would leave a hole in the middle, which would not be filled that easily in Lewis McGugan's absence.

I've not seen that much of Joe Heath but the summer transfer policy was to rely on the youngsters as back up for such positions and given the midfield scarcity tomorrow he could well be his chance to shine.

CCs tactical conundrum doesn't end there though and he must decide whether Andrew (the Artist formerly known as Andy) Cole should be handed his first start in the Garibaldi. After coming through a behind closed doors game in the week he appears to be on the verge of full fitness but I still think he'll be kept on the bench for now. The attack that caused constant headaches for the Hornets in the last home league outing should have the ability to create similar chances, although it seems likely that Tyson will be preferred to McCleary. Cole could be priceless to help change the game or come on as a calming influence to kill the game.

That would prob leave us with -

Smith, Chambers, Wilson, Morgan, Heath, Moussi, Perch, Cohen, Tyson, Martin, Earnshaw

Many people have been looking to see how the players are adpating to a higher level - tomorrow's tactical choices might well offer us an insight into how capable CC is in this division.....

Monday, 1 September 2008

Wake up call, reality checks, other such cliches plus shutting windows...

The cliches were out in force on Saturday as Mick McCarthy's rampant Wolves tore the travelling trickies to shreds at Molineux. Was this a wake up call/reality check/timely reminder about the toughness of the task involved in competing at Championship level?

Probably. Wolves are, however, one of the divisions top sides and should feature in the promotion shake up. The alphabet soup strike force of Chris Iwelumo and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (an incredible 17 different letters between them Scrabble fans!) are certainly a threat to any defence. Wingers Matt Jarvis and Michael Kightly also look a potent force and given our defensive naievity at full back they were always going to cause problems.

Also our shoddy record against the Noddy Holder lovers (aside from Christmas Wolves home games must be his sole source of royalties) meant it was always set to be a tough test of our Championship credentials.

To lose to Wolves is certainly no disgrace. The manner in which we got torn to shreds is more worrying.

However lets not panic yet. At home so far we have looked good. It seems a while ago now but the performance (and match) against Watford was fantastic and Reading was a solid start against a dangerous outfit. Away we've looked flimsy and that must improve.

To be fair there are plenty of players lacking experience at his level, or in Moussi's case in this country, and there are also players that need time to bed into our team.

Also, Calderwood needs to learn the complexities of Championship management. From looking at the pattern of many games an early goal seems to signal a 'basketball' style back and forth encounter. The hectic tubthumping pace of the game is a lot less simple to control than in League One.

On Saturday, it seemed as though CC may have played all of his cards too early against Wolves. Starting with a 433 with Tyson, Earnshaw and Martin was perhaps too ambitious (not normally the charge levelled at him!) and meant that once we went behind it must've been difficult to know exactly how to react. It was pointless to reign things in but equally necessary to change a line up that was being overran.

A fortnight now should give us time to clear the swelling numbers in the treatment room and come back refreshed. Beating Burnley at the City Ground shouldn't be beyond our abilities but like all sides at this level can't be taken lightly.


As the transfer window closes it looks as thought we've missed out on Ben Watson. The ginger midfield maestro seems to have set his sights on a reunion with Ian Dowie at Loftus Road but by all accounts was asking for a massive wage.

The Evening Post reported that he was after 15k and we were 'only' willing to double his current 8k. I don't profess to know what the squad are on but it doesn't seem worth blowing the wage structure away for a player that would've been nice but is not essential.

To me an essential purchase was a right back but it still looks as though CC will show faith in his beloved Luke Chambers.


The main drama of transfer window day was being played out far away from the banks of the Trent.

As the Berbatov and Robinho sagas rumbled on the unsung heroes of the day were the men charged with spinning out the news coverage until the last minute.

Hats off then to Jonathan Stevenson of the BBC (a Forest fan too) and Sky Sports News' cheeky chappy Jim White - their wit made the protracted 'so and so spotted at such and such' nonsense a deal more entertaining!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Five goal thriller as Tricky Trees see off Hornets

Striker crisis? What striker crisis?!!

All the talk in the build up to Saturday's game was a scarcity of firepower in the Forest squad but in what must have been one of the most entertaining games at the City Ground for many years (since the Paul Hart era at least) Calderwood's charges looked pacy, creative and dangerous and emerged victorious from a hotly contested five goal thriller.

With a hungry-for-goals and impressively mature Robert Earnshaw leading an attack that was at its best when involving the wonderful wizardry of loanee Lee Martin Forest posed a bucketful of problems for Boothroyd's promotion hopefuls.

The rip roaring contest was enhanced by some smart attacking from the away team who posed a continuous threat thanks to the scheming inventive play from Tommy Smith and ex-City Ground loan signing Will Hoskins behind Grzegorz Rasiak and towards the end fellow giant Tamas Priskin.

The excitement kick-started with a wonderful long range goal from the mercurial Martin which was perfectly curled beyond the despairing Poom. Watford hit back with an opportunistic poke home from Smith but Earnshaw restored the advantage when he latched on to Moussi's superb through ball to fire home his first league goal in the Garibaldi. It was chief tormentor Smith who equalised for the Hornets, ghosted onto Doyley's low cross but fit again sub Nathan Tyson was in the right place at the right time to poke home the winner after Earnshaw's brilliant free kick struck an upright.

If every City Ground game this season can be this exciting (and this succesful) it's going to be a hell of a season!

Player ratings -

Paul Smith - 7
Made a great save in the build up to his namesake's first goal and was unfortunate not to smother his follow up attempt. The distribution from goal kicks needs working on but that is not just incumbent on Smudger - sometimes I feel full backs and midfielders should drop deep and receive the ball to help start passing attacking play because of a lack of aerial options.

Luke Chambers - 5
Almost rescued his rating with a good late saving tackle but is still off the Championship pace. Unsteady in the air and not assured on the ball he looks to have found the step up difficult and is no longer able to attack as effectively as last year.

Julian Bennett - 7
Offered an outlet on the left when going forward and although was troubled by a tricky Hornets attack gave a typically committed display.

Ian Breckin - 8
The club skipper stepped into the side effortlessly and while less stylish on the ball than Wilson did all the 'bread and butter' defending well.

Wes Morgan -8
Strong stuff again from Wes who seemed to relish the battle with beanpole Rasiak.

James Perch - 8
I'm racking my brains to think of a mistake he made in midfield. Tackling was top drawer and played a countless number of simple but effective short passes as well as one wonderfully weighted one that Tyson nearly converted into a fourth goal. Last year Julian Bennett went from zero at the start of the season to player of the year, it's too early to say Perch will do that but he's certainly looking like a surprise package. Up yours boo boys!!

Guy Moussi - 7
Occasionally sloppy when trying to over elaborate but Moussi was once again an immense presence in the middle of the park. Played a great ball for the second goal and spreads the play delightfully.

Chris Cohen - 6
Was off colour in the first half and looked as though he was struggling to keep up with the frenetic pace. Put too many passes astray and was not forceful enough in the tackle to win enough of the ball but got better as the game wore on and cannot be faulted for his workrate and ability to play neat balls out of tight situations.

Garath McCleary - 6
It has been a massive step up from non league to the Championship and it showed with a few heavy touches at times. He does show plenty of signs of promise however and will use this experience to continue his development. Worked hard and deserves to be perservered with ahead of Arron Davies who looked lost when given his opportunity against Reading.

Lee Martin - 8
Looks a fabulous talent and CC would do well to start begging Ferguson now for a permanent deal. Ran at the defence and twisted and turned to carve a host of openings. In the second half should have perhaps manufactured another goal from one of three attacks involving himself and Earnshaw but with his glorious goal and tireless running was a key factor in the eventual victory.

Robert Earnshaw - 8
Was bought to pounce on any chances going in the box and showed his predatory prowess by racing onto Moussi's through ball to fire home ahead of the onrushing Poom. Has also impressed with his maturity in acting as a senior figure in this young side and was unlucky not to score a second after his curling free kick hit the post.

Opposition -
Poom, Doyley, Sadler, Bromby, DeMerit, McAnuff (Hoskins), Eustace, Williamson (Francis), Harley (Priskin), Smith, Rasiak.

Bootroyd's men contributed to a thrilling encounter on Trentside and will be disappointed to go away empty handed after twice clawing their way back into the game.

The way this league is it is hard to say how good a victory against Watford is. Last year they were firmly in the promotion mix but after a summer of changes at Vicarage Road some have predicted more of a struggle this time around - only time will tell if they are right but they came to the City Ground having not conceded a goal, something not to be forgotten when assessing how potent the Forest attack was.

Watford showed some smart attacking play and appear on paper to have a side that should be able to compete with the league's best. They seemed keen on long throws but I felt these actually negated some of their attacking momentum and they appeared more dangerous with quick throws near the end of the game which caught the Forest back line napping.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Hornets test for CC and the boys

Watford roll into town tomorrow to provide the next test of Calderwood's Reds' credentials at the City Ground. All the build up seems to be focused on whether CC will stick (with roughly the side that tasted defeat in Wales last week) or twist (by adding in a returning Tyson or Cole). Given the Scot's propensity for caution it strikes me that Tyson will possibly only feature from the bench - and a quick burst of his pacy direct play may just be what's needed to unlock a tough looking defence in a solid Watford side.

Some predict that Bootroyd's side will struggle this term after losing star players such as Danny Shittu, Darius Henderson and Nathan Ellington in the transfer window. The signs were also poor after going on an appalling run at the back of last season which saw their fantastic early season sparkle fizzle out.

However they still have quality players for this level with Tommy Smith and Jobi McAnuff likely to create problems, veterans Mart Poom, John Eustace and Damien Francis providing the know-how and the signing of Gregorz Rasiak adding to their goal threat.

It's not a game to take lightly and the loss of Lewis McGugan will be difficult to make up for. I think CC will once again try to pack the midfield to try and dominate the game and hope that we can carve openings for Earnshaw to pounce on. I predict the line up will be (in the usual 433/451 formation) -





With - Thornhill, Roberts, Breckin, Newbold, Tyson (or Sinclair) warming the bench

There's no reason why that line up can't pose a threat and the move to the centre could benefit Cohen become more involved in the play but once again the passing and build up will need to be accurate and we can't afford to let Earnshaw become isolated.

I fear the game could be a tough 1-1 but let's hope the Hornets are sent packing empty handed to kick start the season with a first win......

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Match day in exile

The only thing more nerve racking then being at the game is not being at the game it seems! Whenever not following the Tricky Trees at the City Ground or around the country on their travels a tense day awaits.

Living as I do outside of the Radio Nottingham range and too tight to spalsh out on Forest World my match day fix is fed by Jeff Stelling and the gang on Sky Sports News, various websites on the laptop and texts from a friend who has braved the trip to deepest darkest south Wales.

Here's how the day panned out for me -

14.20 - Official Forest site reports the line up as Smith, Chambers, Bennett, Wilson, Morgan, Moussi, Perch, McGugan, Cohen, Martin, Earnshaw with Roberts, Breckin, McCleary, Thornhill, Newbold. New boy Martin in for injured Davies - frustrating to see that we get someone in only for another to join the long treatment room list. Still looks light up top - the midfield will have to repeat last weeks success. Hopefully Earnshaw can add to his midweek brace against Morecambe.

14.30 - A check back shows the Swans are lining up as follows - De Vries, Williams, Painter, Monk, Bodde, Britton, Pratley, Gower, Collins, Butler, Scotland. Subs - Rangel, Gomez, Brandy, Pintado, Bauza. There's certainly some talent there and we shouldn't forget that Swansea were the runaway champions last year, 10 points above us.

14.32 - My mate texts me to say he has Chambers and McGugan in the sweep, he might fancy his chances on set pieces....

14.38 - Just read on the BBC website that Leicester will face Hartlepool away in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Thank god we haven't got that to contend with this year!

14.41 - Arsenal beat West Brom 1-0, maybe it's just me but I would love to go to the Emirates. Fingers crossed for the FA Cup perhaps.

14.59 - Right i'm all set and ready to go. Sky Sports News (SSN) is on, i've got the official site, BBC, Evening Post text commentary and Vital Forest all open, my mobiles poised for any texts come on uuuuuuuu reds!

15.11 - 1-0 down. Own goal from Smith. Sounds a bit unlucky, Britton hit the post and cannoned in off Smith according to SSN. This is going to be a big test now....

15.26 - Text commentaries are rubbish aren't they? Great if you want to know about attacking or defensive throw ins being taken but terrible for interesting information. Moussi's been booked and they've had 59% of the possession. Can we play the sort of football away that we did at home? Do we need more of a presence up front in these tough games? Come on Forest!

15.37 - EQUALISER!! SSN says Swansea were carving us apart but against the run of play we're back in the game! Sounds as though De Vries missed a cross from Martin and James Perch poked home! What was he doing in the box??! Who cares!! Poacher Perch! Uuuuuuuuu reds!

15.40 - The goal is described like this on text commentary - Cross by Lee Martin (Nottm Forest), goal by James Perch (Nottm Forest) right-footed (low centre of goal) from centre of penalty area (6 yards).Swansea 1-1 Nottm Forest. Assist (cross) by Lee Martin (Nottm Forest) from right wing. Precise and unimaginative but it's good news at least!

15.51 - SSN finally confirms it's half time at the Liberty Stadium. Queue chance for a quick comfort break and chance to relax for a short while.

15.53 - Text from my mate - "They should've been out of sight. Only got going in the last 15 mins." Hopefully we'll come out stronger second half after getting the goal.

15.58 - Reading, Sheff Utd, Southampton, Watford all winning, no away sides ahead in the Championship. I'd take this now to be honest.

16.03 - Another text "Earnshaw not had a kick. Needs help up top." Always was going to be a problem with the injury crisis and this line up. Let's hope he can pounce on something out of the blue...

16.12 - SSN reporter says Swansea playing much the better football but still all square. Could be a long half. A scrappy smash and grab would be fantastic......

16.14 - Hat trick for Billy Sharp at the Blunts. Unfortunately I reckon they will be strong this year. Norwich losing - shame eh Sammy!

16.32 - 2-1 Swansea. Smith saves a penalty from Bodde who scores the rebound. Has CC got anything up his sleeve to rescue a point? Surely worth a burst of McCleary.

16.40 - Still no sign of a sub on the text commentaries. We've reached the heady heights of 45% possession though apparently. Come on Forest, let's nick something...

16.42 - SSN says Earnshaw looking exposed and we're struggling, Swans well worth their lead. Doesn't sound good.....

16.46 - McCleary on, come on Forest, we need to finish with a flourish.

16.48 - 3-1 Swansea, must be game over now. Pintado. To be fair sounds like we've been totally outplayed.

16.56 - SSN confirms the result. A 3-1 defeat.

Well, it's torture trying to exact as much information as you can from text commentaries and SSN updates, especially when things aren't going your way.

Sounds from all accounts as though we were outplayed and deserved to lose. They'll be plenty more tough trips in store in this league (the next one's at Wolves) and we'll need to carry a bit more threat and nous to compete I fear but it's still early days yet and we need to pick ourselves up and get ready for the Hornets at home next Saturday...

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Promising signs....

Sunday's opening 0-0 draw with recently relegated Reading helped cement the optimistic feel on the banks of the Trent, albeit tinged with the slight disappointment that the Reds domination of the proceedings didn't bring just reward with three points.

A frantic start brought a half chance for Chris Cohen and long range efforts from the imperious Guy Moussi and hard working Rob Earnshaw. Reading also showed early glimpses of their own threat with accurate balls over the top giving Leroy Lita and Kevin Doyle the chance to showcase their pacy promise.

Their threat was nullified thanks to some excellent defensive play with a typical early crunching tackle from Bennett setting the tone and Wes and Kelvin oozing class throughout an assured 90 minutes.

Perch and Moussi's tireless running helped wrestle control of the game for the Tricky Trees, and Calderwood's charges largely stayed on top without ever really creating many chances.

Overall a stalemate was indicative of the lack of a spark to unlock the solid Reading back line and in the end a respectable point was only gained thanks to a jaw dropping save from Smith to deny Doyle's goal bound header.

Returning players should help to turn these performances into winning ones - but length of time key players are out for should cause concern enough for CC to delve into the loan market.

Player ratings -

Paul Smith - 8
One shockingly bad punch was more than made up for by a stunning save to tip a Doyle header onto the post in the second half. Needs to be more accurate with his distribution given the lack of aerial power up front.

Luke Chambers - 6
A couple of slips towards the end and the odd moment of untidy play were worrying and mistakes such as those cannot be made at this level. Was close to getting onto the end of a couple of set pieces to carry on last season's good goalscoring form.

Julian Bennett - 7
Showed his intent with an excellent sliding tackle on Leroy Lita early on in the game and put in the odd decent ball into the area during occasional forays into opposition territory.

Wes Morgan - 9
Strong, positionally superb and excellent in the air Wes rose to the challenge posed by Doyle and Lita. He was often too strong for the diminuitive pair and managed to keep them largely quiet throughout.

Kelvin Wilson - 8
Towards the end of last season suffered from sloppy lapses in concentration but seemed to rise to the challenge of stepping up a level. Cool, calm and classy.

Guy Moussi - 9
Already a fans favourite and it's easy to see why after one of the most impressive debuts at the City Ground for some time. Strong, good in possession and always available for a pass - the team built off his excellent and energetic showing. Looks to have a powerful shot and wasn't afraid to try something different in the final third to try and unlock the defence. Looks a wonderful find from Friio.

James Perch - 8
A bit of an unsung hero - Perch's excellent tracking back, accurate tackling, tireless closing down and fearless blocking were an integral part of the way the side were able to exert authority over Reading in midfield.

Lewis McGugan - 7
A few classy touches showed that Lewis has the ability to flourish in the Championship. Unfortunately not in the game as much as he might have been and was often forced into unnatural positions in a bid to fill the attacking void in the team.

Chris Cohen - 7
Improved as the game went on and battled manfully despite given the unenviable task of trying to provide the sides aerial threat from goal kicks and being asked to drift wide to create chances.

Arron Davies - 5
If the side were to pose the extra threat needed to conjure up a goal it needed to come from Davies but he sadly seemed to find the task beyond him. His rating is perhaps slightly harsh but reflects the fact that on too many occasions he was unable to beat players and do his job to open up opprtunities for Earnshaw and as time wore on struggled to get into the game. The lack of options in this formation undoubtedly affected him but will need to do more to be a force at this level.

Rob Earnshaw - 7
Bright and ever alert, he made the best of a difficult situation. Got barely any change from the giant Sonko and solid Ingimarsson but did all he could to try and force half chances from the scraps he fed off.

Subs - Sinclair (for McGugan), McCleary (for Davies).

Manager watch - CC's lack of forward options affected his selection but he managed to come up with a line up that was strong and at times able to dominate a Reading side tipped to feature in the promotion shake up. The decision to send on Sinclair was strange and McCleary perhaps could have been used earlier to replace Davies, who ran out of ideas and legs. Will be pleased that his much vaunted League One defence kept a clean sheet in their first outing in this league and seems acutely aware of the need for someone to fill the gap left by the injuries to Cole, Garner, Tyson and Anderson.

Eye on the opposition -

Hahnemann, Rosenior, Hunt, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Kebe, Harper, Matejovsky (Cisse), Convey, Doyle, Lita.

Coppell's Royals might feel disappointed to have been largely second best in this encounter. The injury to Matejovsky couldn't have helped but in midfield they were overran by both the formation and performance of their Forest counterparts. Defensively Sonko and Ingimarsson looked very solid and Hunt was largely untroubled after slotting in to replace the departed Shorey. Doyle and Lita offer a pacy, if not physical, threat and should score plenty at this level. Could have snatched the win if Doyle had not been so superbly denied by Smith.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Eagerly anticipating the curtain raiser...

The league season is up and running with a bang and already the Tricky Trees faithful have had the demise of Jewell's sheep botherers to celebrate but tomorrow is finally the turn of the Calderwood's new-look charges to take centre stage.

The Sky cameras are in town for the first fixture against Reading - in recent times a portent of doom on the banks of the Trent. Let's hope that, like League One, we can put the TV hoodoo well and truly behind us now against Coppell's Royals.

Far more serious than the curse of the cameras will be the shortage of numbers up front. Rob Earnshaw looks set to plough a lonely furrow up front with potential partners dropping like flies as time has gone on. The pressure will be on Earnshaw to live up to his price tag and he will need those around him to provide accurate service to save his legs and play to his strengths.

If reports are accurate the Reds look set to take to the field as follows





It will ask a lot of the resurgant Davies and the up and coming Thornhill but it need not all be doom and gloom. Hopefully the feel-good factor from promotion can inspire a result against one of the leagues favourites and put all talk of TV jitters and striker shortages to the back of everyone's minds for the time being.

Come on you reds!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Watson the cards for this week.....

The internet rumour mongers are all predicting Ben Watson's arrival this week which would be a welcome addition in my book.

Central midfield is still lacking the presence and drive of a Championship class midfielder, especially given Calderwood's preference for three in the centre. Watson's shown himself to be one of this league's rising stars and he is seemingly the right age and right type of plyer to slot another vital piece into the Championship jigsaw on trentside.

However while Watson would be welcome the Notts County friendly surely highlights the need for a back up keeper too. An able deputy for Smith is an absolute must - firstly to push him to perform at his best and secondly to make sure we aren't left with untried and young keepers who don't appear ready for the challenge.

There are other areas where more depth is needed but, for the time being, it seems the likes of Heath, Thornhill, Sinclair, Reid will quite rightly be given their chance to act as cover.

As things stand my guess is next week will line up be -





Subs - Perch, Breckin, Thornhill, Sinclair, Roberts

It'd be nice to get Watson and a back up keeper into that reckoning by the time the Sky cameras roll into town a week today.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Rating the runners and riders.....

It's been four years in the making, a rocky road to bid for the chance to compete for the ultimate glory. Some people doubted it would happen, qualifying was tough and there's been a big debate about who's in and who's out of the team but now it's upon us. No, not the Olympics stupid, it's much more important than that - Forest are about to start a season in the Championship!

With the season around the corner it's time to take a look at what we're up against in a run down of the team's we'll battle against over the next 46 games....

Barnsley - Last season they struggled to stay in the league and were possibly hindered by an energy-sapping cup run. Tough, difficult to beat but not spectacular. Prediction - relegation dogfight/lower mid table.

Birmingham - Possibly the best side in the division, the Blues are bound to be challenging for honours. They've lost Muamba and Forssell but the squad is laced with top class experience and has been boosted by new boys Phillips and Carsley. If they can hang on to McFadden they will cause every side a threat at this level. Prediction - automatic promotion.

Blackpool - Will look to continue to punch above their weight yet again this year. Grayson has done a fabulous job at Bloomfield Road but the loss of Hoolahan may affect them. Prediction - relegation dogfight/lower mid table.

Bristol City - Came so close to reaching the promised land of the Premier League in an excellent first season. Under Johnson they are still 'more than the sum of their parts' but they might have to guard against 'second season syndrome'. Prediction - play off contenders.

Burnley - Probably summed up by striker Akinbiyi - not pretty, unfancied, not the most talented but tough to knock down and never gives you and easy game. Prediction - mid table.

Cardiff - Another side that shone in the cups last season, they seem to have veered from being on the verge of financial oblivion to being on the verge of the big time for a while now. Some talented players and a canny manager at this level make them no pushovers but seem to lack an extra ability to lift them above this league. Prediction - mid table/play off contenders.

Charlton - There will be pressure on Pardew to deliver after their challenge faded badly last year. Lots of attacking talent but Pardew will need to keep them all happy and find some consistency. Prediction - play off contenders.

Coventry - If Eastwood can realise his rich potential he could fire them to contention and the signing of Clinton Morrison for the fans dream 'Clint Eastwood' ticket would make them even more dangerous. The loss of Mifsud might be a blow and they'll need to break the 'start well, go on a bad run, sack manager, just survive' time warp they're stuck in. Prediction - play off contenders.

Crystal Palace - A chance for us Trickies to renew acquaintances with our 'good friend' Mr Warnock. They almost 'did a Palace' last time and with Warnock's nous and some strong players they'll certainly be in the running. Prediction - play off contenders.

Derby - Jewell's made a fair few summer signings for the dirty sheep in a bid to throw off the hilarious 'form' from last year's wonderful season-long humiliation. Will the signings click? I hope not. Prediction - should be promotion contenders but if dreams can come true Jewell will repeat the excellent work of Mr Gregory and they'll struggle.

Doncaster - O'Driscoll's done a great job to mould a fine side that play attractive football. Haven't upset the apple cart by making many signings but if they can continue to play as they did there's no reason why they shouldn't surprise a few at this level. Prediction - mid table.

Ipswich - The Tractor Boys seem to have an endless conveyor belt of brilliant youngsters to keep their side afloat. Dangerous going forward but I'm not sure I fancy them over 46 games. They ar, however, the type of side that could go on a run and be difficult to stop. Prediction - play off contenders.

Norwich - Signed a few midfielders (including our Sammy) but lost the old heads of Dublin and Huckerby from last time round. Look to have a very strong squad this year but there's something about Roeder that makes me feel they'll be decent but never anything more. Prediction - play off contenders.

Plymouth - No-one fancies an away game there and Sturrock seems to understand how to be successful at Home Park. Strong yet unspectacular. Prediction - mid table/outside play off bet.

Preston - Firmly established Championship outfit that should get plenty of goals with Hawley and Mellor up front backed up by some able midfielders for this level. Prediction - mid table.

QPR - Their newly found wealth has seen them splash the cash on some signings and live the dream of every millionaire football fan - appoint Iain Dowie as boss! Could take time to settle and are being overrated in some circles but should be challenging come May. Prediction - play offs.

Reading - Coppell quietly fashioned a formidable outfit from this division last time and while Kitson has jumped ship they should still retain enough quality in the squad and have enough promotion know-how to do well. Prediction - automatic promotion.

Sheff Utd - The Blunts made the laughable mistake of thinking Brian Robson was a football manager last year but unfortunately Cap'n Marvel won't be around to scupper their chances again. Experienced and solid with Beattie/Webber/Stead/Sharp providing a deadly goal threat they should, unfortunately, do well. Prediction - play offs/automatic.

Sheff Wed - Struggled last time around but Laws inspired a survival bid and with a limited budget will look to build on that. Talented but vulnerable. Prediction - mid table.

Southampton - It will be interesting to see how their new look management team adapts to Championship football. They have a decent looking strike force with John/Rasiak/Saganowski but could leak a few goals too. Prediction - mid table.

Swansea - The runaway League One champions won't find life so easy at Championship level. A talented and flexible team has grown quickly under Martinez but goals may not be so easy to come by this season. Prediction - lower mid table.

Watford - Boothroyd's side started like a bullet train last year but inexplicably transformed into a Regional Railways clapped out old banger to Skeggy mid way through the season. Solid and experienced, if they can stay consistent they should challenge. Prediction - play offs/chance of automatic.

Wolves - Another old foe that should be a tough test this term. Vokes and Iwelumo have been added to the already strong bank of forwards but they can't all start. Prediction - play off contenders.

It's quite an eye opener to consider just how many teams should have a legitimate shout of the play offs this year. Just as last season was tight, unpredictable and exciting this should be too and looking at the standard of opposition has re-affirmed my belief that mid table wouldn't be too bad for us!

Roll on August 10!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Is 442 dead?

It's as traditional as Fish and Chips, the Royal Family and Colin Slater - but has the era of the old 442 formation come to an end? Many of Europe's top teams have abandoned the old set in stone line up and it seems our Stranraer supremo has done likewise - but is he right to do that? Does modern football need a modern formation?

It seems inevitable that come the big kick off in August Colin Calderwood sending out his charges in a 433/451 formation. He's built a squad containing winger-cum-striker types in Arron Davies, Garath McCleary, Paul Anderson and he is seemingly trying (rightly or wrongly) to fit Nathan Tyson into this mould. He's also previously spoke of his distrust of our form in a 442 and peservered with 433/451 through to the dramatic climax of last season.

In recent weeks the old warhorses of the City Ground scene have been sharpening their knives and calling on ol' CC to retreat and go back to 442 - but are they right?

In Calderwood's favour is the fact that the new formation is much more flexible. It allows for greater numbers behind the ball when defending and greater emphasis going forward from the very nature of the fact it morphs from 451 to 433. It suits a counter attacking team with pace as its strength, something CC desperately wants from his Tricky Trees.

Very often as well it can turn into a 442, if necessary, with a wide man tucking back and a winger pushing forwards, showing an inbuilt ability to alter without substitution. 433/451 also contains a space for the 'Makelele role' - that tireless enforcer who patrols the midfield stifling out attacks - important for defensive stability.

442 by comparision has had a tendency to look pedestrian. Witness Germany's transition when they changed from a flat, flimsy 442 to a dynamic 433/451 mid European championsip which took them further in the tournament than their abilities should have expressed.

One argument in the Evening Post - from one of those sages Burns or Birtles - said that Forest had been undone by '442 teams' such as Doncaster last year. Whoever it was obviously hadn't paid much attention to League One's most stylish passing outfit. O'Driscoll often tinkered but mainly stuck with what could be described as a 433/451 formation which outwitted many of less talented League One line ups. Many others are choosing this option now too. Ferguson secured the Premier League title with a swashbuckling 433, Chelsea pushed them to the wire by returning the Mourinho's old 433/451 and the Champions League version of Benitez's Liverpool are much more dangerous than their domestic alter ego, playing a 4-2-3-1.

It's not enough to choose a formation because others are but it's certainly worth considering why successful sides are looking beyond 442.

Flexibility, innovation and keeping up with the Jones' may be one thing however but the chief concerns with maintaining this formation in the Championsip may well be deficiencies in the current starting 11 on Trentside.

433/451 requires strong full backs to be able to cope without constant cover and there are still question marks over Luke Chambers' ability in that role and maybe Jules' discipline on the other flank.

Questions may also be raised about the 'winger-cum-strikers' in the squad. They need to do a lot of work to make the formation viable and have to have an impact for it to be successful. Davies, Anderson and Tyson have had or are having injury concerns and all four (including McCleary) are unproven at this level.

The other issue is the striking role. Many times last year Forest frustratingly looked limp going forward because of a lack of support for the central striker. Done badly 433/451 could leave Earnshaw/Cole/Garner/Tyson chasing shadows and wasting their undoubted talent.

Those points will need to be resolved over the season but for now it's obvious that CC wants his 433/451. It also seems obvious to this blogger that we should not just dismiss this out of hand. I don't profess to know whether CC's formation will work but the days when 442 was the best and most viable option are gone and calling for 442 for 442's sake doesn't make sense. Managers are opting for more flexible models in ever increasing numbers - let's just hope CC knows how to make it work here next season. Over to you Colin....

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Oh for obscurity.......

Well we did it. Forest are back in the Championship after a long and tortuous exile in the murky depths of League One. The celebrations have been long and joyous but now that the relief and excitement have passed it seems as though some among the Tricky Tree faithful are expecting big things next season too.

This is perhaps understandable - fuelled partly by memories of an age when Psycho would rampage down the left flank, Nigel would scheme and craft and Old Big 'Ead would have a well drilled team playing fabulous flowing football in the Garibaldi. Memories of these days (still extremely fond for this blogger) and of course of times even before that when Forest achieved 'that which we should not mention for fear of being branded as living in the past' lead many fans to the belief, if not the hope, that we can be a player on the biggest of stages once again.

The optimism for some has also been born out of the promsing activity in the transfer market. Robert Earnshaw's arrival for 2.65m brings a much-needed out and out goalscorer to the team. Earnshaw may have wandered from club to club a little since his Cardiff days but few can match his pedigree at this level. The size of the fee also shows that we now have some financial clout to compete in the transfer market and gone are the days when poor Paul Hart was forced to put the entire squad up for sale.

Earnshaw will be joined in the striking ranks by Andy 'call me Andrew' Cole. The 'Nottingham lad done good' who returns home for a career swansong. His arrival is perhaps 10 years too late to get too excited about but still given last year's exploits of messrs Windass and Phillips he could still have a big impact and provide some know-how and nous that was lacking at times last year, partcularly away from home.

Salivating at the thought of Earnshaw, Cole and Tyson being unleashed has got many rushing to the bookies for a bet on a successful season.

Our 'great leader Nigel' has also fanned the flames of the optimism surrounding the club. He has spoken about money being available for wages and fees of top players and has said that he won't be happy until we reach the Premier League. With noises like this from the top of the club surely we should be optimistic!!

Others too have looked to last season. Could we not match the exploits of unfancied Hull City or at least compete with the likes of Bristol City who were an instant success in their first year??

So history+ signings + boardroom buoyancy + the trend of last year = guaranteed success right??

I have a feeling it just won't be that easy. Our history might mean something in terms of attracting players and our ability to pull in fans for gate receipts et al but we are not necessarily the big fish in the small pond anymore. Now we must compete with Birmingham, Reading, the Sheffield clubs, Wolves, Coventry, QPR, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Watford, the East Anglian clubs and our sheep bothering neighbours who all through recent success or tradition should expect to do well at this level. In other words the size of our club (debated ad nauseam) is irrelevant.

The signings so far are indeed impressive but to some extent merely replace, in terms of numbers, what was lost when Commons (cough, spit, boo, hiss) Agogo, Holt, Clingan and the loan boys left for pastures new. The players we've got may be better but the squad does still look a tad short in some areas.

The right back situation also concerns me. Our Stranraer supremo CC may rate Chambers in that role but he has shown signs of discomfort if a rampaging winger runs at him and there is some doubt at his ability to fill that role at Championship level. To an extent his goal scoring exploits helped hide the odd deficiency in his technique last year and I fear he could come unstuck against the big guns.

The boardroom statements have been postive and have been born out with the activity thus far. However the bold promise that we won't rest until we get to the Premier League made me wince a little and evoked awkward memories of the 'We're Serious...' campaign. It's good to be positive but one step at a time....

Last year's trend in the division may also be misleading and merely showed to me how difficult this division has become. Teams the standard of Norwich, the Sheffield sides, and Coventry laboured in the lower reaches. These teams only really lacked the consistency of the play off contenders and there will be very few gimmes in the way that Millwall or Tranmere at home were. Hull and Bristol are good examples of sides coming up and doing well but for every one of them there's been a Southend and Scunthorpe that have had the wind taken out of their sales by the tough test offered by the Championship. Parachute payments and TV deals have helped fuel a fiercely competitive league.

So where does that leave us? Storming to the play offs or plummeting back from where we came?? Well I hope, and I would be delighted if this were true, that it leaves us somewhere in between.

After the agonising years missing out on the play offs at Sheff Utd, struggling against and eventually succumbing to relegation from the Champ, floundering in an attempt to come back and finally, dramatically and wonderfully getting back up I'd be happy for a rest from all that thank you! My nerves can't take any more.

Oh for a season of good attacking football, competitive results (esp against the Sheep) and mid table obscurity!

Promotion should, in the cold light of day, be beyond us. Relegation, thanks to some good signings, should be avoidable. Let's take time to build, grow and improve and revel in obscurity for a change!

Rants etc..............

I've finally decided to jump aboard the world wide web revolution and channel my thoughts through the realms of the blogging hemisphere!

Join me for a spin through my opinions!

I'm intending this to be mostly about my beloved Nottingham Forest (hence the title) but occasionally i'm sure i'll veer off into cricket the wider world of football and who knows what else....