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!