Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Still unfinished business for Billy

The prevailing mood upon leaving the City Ground on Saturday was undoubtedly one of frustration. The 1-1 draw with Bournemouth proved perfectly that Billy Davies' 'unfinished business' mantra still holds true, with two pieces of the jigsaw very definitely and prominently missing.

Those pieces aren't a surprise either. The club's well documented chase of Grant Leadbitter and of a number of strikers show that the wee Glaswegian is as acutely aware of the fact that the side - despite healthy building work - is incomplete.

On the face of it a striker alone would have settled three points on Trentside on Saturday. It's true that there were chances galore to add to Henri Lansbury's stunning long range curler. Cox's one-on-one in the first half was golden, especially given that it was a rare moment that he wasn't flagged for being offside. Henderson's inexplicable miscue after he'd rounded the keeper in the second half added a rancid icing to a particularly ill-tasting cake.

A cheeky poacher in the mould of Billy Sharp, Rob Earnshaw or David Johnson would surely have gobbled up either opportunity, but is that too cheap a point to make? While strikers of their calibre would have been licking their lips more than a Premier League side on the way to Selhurst Park at the moment at being handed such chances, Cox and Henderson would both, on another day, surely have netted. 

Cox in particular is in a worryingly blunt run of form. His ability and pedigree should definitely be yielding more in the goals column - something that would ease the still valid calls for Fawaz's chequebook to be brandished. He has been backed now by three managers and has accrued a fair wedge of faith to repay. 

So what of the other gap in the current side? The need for a deep lying 'midfield general' was, for me, almost as keenly felt.

Bournemouth were a side that do not deserve to be patronised. Eddie Howe's outfit played good football, had smart movement and were built from a solid base that included the astutely signed ex Forest loanee Elliott Ward. The Cherries had a second half wobble when they gave the ball away too readily and looked ripe to concede a second. But, with Forest's aforementioned profligacy helping, they rallied strongly and, come the end, their equaliser felt deserved.

That said, it felt like the midfield balance displayed by the home side contributed. Billy was criticised post match for 'sitting on the lead', but this is precisely what he couldn't do. With the players he had available the Reds boss tried to fashion a working midfield from a bank of flair players. Lansbury, Majewski, Reid and Abdoun all have their talents - but you feel all could do with someone behind them. Someone in 'that' bert that at our level seems a little laughable to call the 'Makelele role'. 

The paucity in that position was not helped, of course, by loanee Chalobah's suspension. With him out of the picture Lansbury and Reid both at times dropped deeper and tried to dictate the tempo. That they were only partially successful meant a point was always there for the taking, something Pugh's late leveller ultimately secured for the impressive visitors.

It's harsh to criticise Davies too much for sending his flair foursome out to try to win the game but sadly it was crying out for someone to either put their foot on the ball and calmly assert authority or to have a physical presence that could dominate. Effectively we needed someone to do the role filled so well at the start of last season by Simon Gillett. I wonder what he's up to?

I guess the point stands though that either that little bit extra control in the middle or more clinical finishing would've added two more points to the current tally. Lansbury's corker - as the old cliche goes - 'deserved to win any game' and had it done so the forward line wouldnt have fallen u der such scrutiny.

 It's great credit to Davies and his band of merry touchline men that Forest sit 4th in the table while still not being the finished package. Should Chalobah add balance and control and one of Cox or Derbyshire, say, find goalscoring form then there's no reason why the good start can't be translated into a challenge for the promotion positions. Without that though it'll be difficult to hang onto to the coat tails of the likes of Leicester, pace setters Burnley and 'Arry's Rs (not one to say out loud).

No comments: