It is often said that an Englishman’s home is his castle. What is less oft said, but perhaps more apt is that a Scotsman’s home is his fortress, especially if said Scotsman is our own Billy Davies.
As I write this our home run of unbeaten league games has just gone past 32. To say we crawled over that line would be an understatement. 1-0 down to a well organised Portsmouth side until an 87th minute lucky/unlucky, depending on whether you were wearing red or blue on Saturday, goal sparked what seemed like an unlikely victory. That’s right, victory. Not only did we equalise in the 87th minute, we went on to win the game in the 94th minute.
Before I go on, I should apologise for not being too good at writing new articles over the past couple of months. I’ve become a ghost around Leftlion Towers of late, and for that I truly apologise. There have been lots of fantastic goings on at the club, and indeed at Leftlion, and I have not been updating you on the former, or around to be part of the latter. If any of you have ever met the big scary Notts County supporting editor, you’d realise how much I had taken my life into my own hands by not submitting an article for a while. However, after a string of profanity ridden emails, here I am writing again!
So, back to the most recent victory. Obviously we went on to win the game, but the real question is why? It’s become apparent that this season we’re not as good a team as we were last season. With the exception of Derby (!!) and a terrible Crystal Palace, we’ve not really taken anyone apart this season, whereas last season we were able to walk past teams confident that we were the better side. However, this season we’re doing something that was seemingly missing last year: Not Giving Up. Last season we would have seen an 87th minute equaliser as a point saved. Equaliser’s that late on feel like winners anyway, so we would have all gone home happy had our boys in red spent the 5 minutes after the goal stood in the corner playing keep ball. On Saturday, after equalising we continued to press forwards. There was a belief that we would win. Drawing wasn’t an option, we wanted to win. It was like a cup game where we would go out on away goals. A draw wasn’t enough. In the 92nd minute we had a corner. Up and down the country you see teams in the dying seconds of the game holding the ball from a corner determined not to throw away what they’d just achieved. In out 92nd minute corner we had eight players in the box. We left one defender at the back keeping Camp company, but we were trying to win the game. We applied more pressure in the dying few minutes than Portsmouth had applied to us all game.
After said corner we applied more pressure, and eventually forced a winner. If one could argue that our equaliser was a bit lucky and perhaps harsh on Portsmouth, nobody could say that our attitude and endeavour didn’t deserve the ensuing victory.
As it’s been a while since my last article, I’m not going to go through all of the games since I last wrote. That would take too long, and you’d probably get bored. What I will do is summarise what’s been going on in the last few months.
Firstly, on loan deadline day we managed to sign two players. Aaron Ramsey and Marcus Tudgay. I’ll be the first to admit that when we made these signings in my mind it was AARON ****ING RAMSEY and someone else. The excitement surrounding Aaron Ramsey was palpable. Not only had we signed someone I’d heard of, but it was someone from Arsenal. Not even a youth team player who is just on their books, but someone who, prior to injury, was a driving force in their side. Unfortunately, when taking such players on loan it becomes apparent that their parent club will be playing him when he goes back, which limits the possibility of extending his loan stay, which, thanks to an injury to one of the Arsenal players is exactly what has happened. Mr Wenger has decided that, after only a handful of games here, Ramsey is back into the Arsenal side. For the brief time he was here, though, he looked genuine class. His touch and vision was sublime, and I expect he will have a long and fruitful career at Arsenal.
|Billy Davies denies link with bottom club Preston - more funny stuff like this at ltlf.co.uk|
Our other loan signing was Marcus Tudgay from Sheffield Wednesday. A third divison striker with ideas of playing in the Championship, or so I though. As it turns out, he could be the catalyst for promotion. He’s become a goal scoring machine, and the fans have taken instant like to him. A couple of goals in a 5-2 thrashing of Derby will do that for a player. As will a 94th minute winner at home to Portsmouth. In the January window his loan deal was made permanent, which was welcome news as traditionally the January transfer window has been a time for players to leave Forest rather than come here.
Speaking of players leaving, along with Arsenal wanting their young star back, it turns out a troubled Chelsea also wanted their young star left back, Ryan Bertrand, back. Losing a Premiership quality left back is an all too familiar story for Forest. Exactly the same thing happened at this time last year. I remember being sat in a Vegas hotel room when I heard the news that Nicky Shorey had gone to Fulham last January. For a club whose most famous player ever was a left back, we do seem to think we can do it without one, which is odd. Forgotten man Joel Lynch has come into the position, and not done a bad job. He looks a tad off the pace, but he hasn’t really played for a year or so. He’s shown some Ronaldo-esque brilliance at the top of the field, but is currently showing a weakness at the back. I hope, for the sake of the club, that he gets up to speed with the rest of the squad quickly, or we are able to pull another left back out of the bag from somewhere. Is Nick Shorey getting a game at the minute?
Speaking of player coming good, as listeners to the Left Back podcast will be aware; I’ve long since been a fan of Luke Chambers. This season he is putting in a good shout for player of the season, along with Lewis ‘Wondergoal’ McGugan. Chambers has popped up with some cracking goals at vital times of late, which is great as it means I win money. He’s always been a threat going forwards, let’s not forget his Showboat appearance for his back heeled volley against Middlesbrough last season. What’s more important, though, is that he is now playing like the defender he was always capable of being. He’s edged out Wilson, who has decided his future now lies in Scotland, and more impressively has arguably become the most reliable centre back at the club. Making excellent tackles, reading the play well and becoming a tower in the air. He’s never going to have Morgan’s strength, but few people will. What he does do is use his ability in the right way. For a long time the fans scapegoated him, when he was played at right back he was, for want of a better word, rubbish. It’s that reputation which he has taken a while to shrug off with the Forest faithful. However, this season consistent defensive excellence, scoring some goals and actually looking like he wants to both play and win for Forest has won the fans round. Chants of ‘Chambo! Chambo!’ now echo around the A Block.
So, what does the future hold? Well we have a big game at Derby next week. It was this time last year that we went to Derby and they ended our excellent unbeaten run, and cost me a pound! Will that happen this season? On form I wouldn’t think so, but we all know form goes out of the window in these games. We hammered Derby at home recently, and let’s not forget that Derby were unceremoniously dumped out of the cup by Crawley. They’re on a downward spiral and we’re on an upward spiral. How should the game go? We should win. How will it go? Who knows? It will be entirely down to who wants it more on the day. Derby don’t seem to want anything at the minute. Their stars (Commons and Savage) seem to only want to play at a different club, their manager is losing the support of the crowd and they seem not to have any money. However, none of this matters come next Saturday. Let’s see who wants it more.
More long term, what do I think our season holds? In all honesty, I think we will win the league. With our games in hand we’re in a very strong position. Win them and we are three points off top, with a crunch game against QPR to come. We could top the league if we carry on doing what we’re doing, which is exactly what we should do. Inabit, duck.
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