Wednesday, 20 April 2011

It's the hope that kills you....

Despite everything, it's still there. Yep, that faint whiff of hope that we might yet salvage a successful end from this frustrating season. If Forest had drifted into a position where promotion were a long distant dream last possible in the throes of a January high then I could relax now and look forward to the cricket and revelling in the tension of everyone else's finals and play offs.

Trouble is we're not yet out of it and because of that there lingers the cruel sense of hope. Win the last four (or three of them.....or maybe at a push two and two draws!!) and we could stumble into the top six. While we can still stumble I'll carry on hoping, and putting myself through the wringer every matchday.

Last Friday's game perfectly encapsulated our season. We got ourselves into a strong position, had a lot of the ball and carved some half decent chances. However, a combination of poor play, tiredness, playing the wrong team at the wrong time and bad luck consigned us to another defeat to add to a miserable looking formbook.

It was one of those games that, from the stands, was incredibly frustrating. Why couldn't Konchesky make the most of his room on the left? Why couldn't Moussi's shot creep inside the post? Why couldn't McGugan's mesmerising dribbles bring reward? Why did we not mark Holt more tighlty for his header? Why did Tyson hit his second half shot so hard it nearly ended in Portman Road? Why did McGoldrick seem too worried about being offside when he fluffed that one in the first half?

It would seem the answer to those is a combination of the fact that we're not good enough to go up this time around and that the luck needed to propel us back into the top six isn't with us.

Also, in my last blog I pointed to the importance of Moussi and McGugan in the run in. While Lewis was electric at times at Carrow Road, especially in the first hour, his French midfield counterpart showed his lack of match sharpness by getting outjumped by Holt for the first goal and losing Surman's run for the second. Probably not a fair reflection of the Mousse's talents for any Premier League scouts watching the soon-to-be out of contract player.

That assessment is probably harsh on a Norwich side who tightened up much better in the second half and saw the game out pretty professionally. They had a front two who gave us headaches all night through a combination of the pace and movement of Simeon Jackson and the strength and presence of Grant 'The One The Got Away' Holt.

Those two were ably assisted by a midfield who were primed to ping through balls to their willing front runners and kept Wes and Chambers on their toes all match.

The whole club felt as thought it had the right vibe to go forwards. The crowd were vocal and positive, the players lively and energetic despite three games in a week, the manager knew how to change things and the set up seems to be geared towards riding the crest of this current wave.

Of course the Premier League would be a massive, massive jump that may be beyond many of the individuals on show last week. I'm sure there are plenty of teams who would've been more incisive with the ball when in the positions Forest got themselves into once you reach the top tier. Pace, strength and enthusiasm won't be enough to overcome class.

But you can't get away from the fact that the Canaries have the right sort of feel about them for promotion.

We, on the other hand, don't. We're only two points off the play offs but it'll be a big ask to find the verve and energy needed to recreate the form from the turn of the year.

Sven's big spenders should prove a massive test of whether that can be done. Chris Cohen's return brings some welcome fresh legs to the midfield, him aside, Billy and co need to wave a magic wand to pick the rest of the squad up.

Of course, if we could pick up a win in a local derby (even if it's not the real one) on Friday, it'd be a huge lift for everyone involved and could bounce us back into life.

That's the hope talking again. If there's still some left after Easter it could be one hell of a finish to the season....

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