Left Brian: September

03/09/2010

Richard Crouch is a tad irritated by Forest's lack of transfer activity so far this season


Left Brian - shirt illustration by Adam PooleIt’s been said that ‘Remember When’ is the lowest form of conversation. I’m a man who likes the lowest forms of most things, so I think it’s fitting that I use this article today to show a bit of retrospective. Remember when we were good? Remember when Forest were able to buy players? Remember when going to watch Forest was the highlight of the week, not the day we dread?

I’ll start with remember when we won away? No? I’ll tell you when it was, it was in January, away at West Brom. Forest were flying, we had the best team in the league, we swept aside one of the favourites for promotion with a magnificent display on a cold snowy night. A game that produced TWO contenders, and one winner, for goal of the season. A game that made the world, well perhaps a few Premiership clubs, stand up and take notice. We were back. We were great. We were on the road to glory once again. Unfortunately, that’s my last good memory of Forest. Since that glorious day in January we started to fall away. We failed to add to the squad in January, and lost out on perhaps the best left back to wear a Forest shirt since a certain Stuart Pearce. We didn’t win away again. We barely won at home. That game put us firmly into second, with Newcastle within our sights. We finished over 20 points off the pace, having gone on a ridiculous streak of failing to win games. Remember when we used to sing ‘unbeaten away’?

So, after that season was over, it was decreed that we would win promotion either the coming season or the next. Decreed by Nigel Doughty, no less. With those fine words one expected that we would strengthen the squad in the way we were hoping for in January. The transfer window opened, and playoff misery was replaced with new season optimism, all based on the proviso of signing some players. Things started well, news came through before the playoffs that Raddy Majewski had signed a permanent deal with us, albeit with a borrowed pen. “This is it”, we thought, new signings, relegated teams not posing such a threat, the best squad in the division. We could actually win the league, and win it in style. All we needed were a few signings. Nicky Shorey was imperative, or so we thought. Rumours began to circulate about Peter Whittingham and Darren Pratley, but no signings happened. “It’s ok”, said a dwindling number of optimists, “we’ll get them in before the season starts”. We didn’t. “It’s ok” said an even smaller number of optimists, “we’ll get them in before the transfer window closes”. We didn’t. “It’s ok” said pretty much a lone voice in a sea of discontent, “the loan window opens soon, we’ll get some Premiership rejects with this new 25 man squad rule”. We won’t. Not a single player, with the exception of the perennially injured Woodgate, has been left out of the Premiership squads. Remember when we were in the Premiership?

“It’s ok” I imagine someone might have thought, although not dared say it, “we’ve still got a squad that finished third last season”. We may have; however, the teams we were playing against have all strengthened. The automatic places are pretty much guaranteed to go to McMiddlesbore and Cardifferenceofopinionwiththetaxman. A club that faced 4 winding up orders over the summer somehow managed to turn down a healthy bid from us for Whittingham, and managed to add 4 or 5 ‘stellar’ signings, including finding the cash to pay a reported half of Craig Bellamy’s £90k per week wages. Remember when we made stellar signings?

So, the season started with trepidation. Our first game was away at newly relegated and parachute inflated Burnley. A club who beat us 5-0 last time we went to that god awful little town. We began the season with a defeat. Not the worst result in the world, but 1-0 is still a defeat. So, on to our first home game against newly promoted Leeds United. A disappointing 1-1 draw. We were unlucky not to be 3-0 up inside of the first 20 minutes, but Leeds were unlucky not to win the game in the following 70. So, who else have we played? We scraped a draw away at Reading owing to a lucky goal for Rob Earnshaw, the kind of thing that normally goes against us. Then we drew at home to Norwich. Again 1-1, again we could have had the game wrapped up early on, and again we were outclassed for the back end of the game. Norwich have scored in injury time in all of their games prior to playing Forest, so going into the final ten minutes at 1-1 was a bit nervous. Interestingly, at full time I think there were 7 players on the pitch who had played for us in division 3. Norwich found a very easy way to cut us open and did so time and time again. We looked off the pace. Remember when Paul McKenna was a fans favourite, breaking up attacks and being hailed as the new Messiah? Unfortunately there were ironic cheers when he was substituted. He looked off the pace and barely half fit. Remember when our ‘fans favourite’ was Stuart Pearce?

So there we have it, we’re at the international break now, a few players have gone off to represent their countries and hopefully they won’t pick up injuries. A problem for most clubs, but as it stands, Forest have 18 players to choose their 18 man squad against Milwall from, and having been at the reserves game midweek, it looked like Dele Adebola limped off, which would put us down to 17 players for 18 places. Tough competition at Forest. Remember when we had a full squad to choose from?

Well, I don’t like to leave the article on a negative note, but there’s very little positivity coming out of Forest at the moment. As is always the case with lack of activity and zero communication rumours are beginning to fly. Has Nigel run out of cash? Has Mark Arthur rubbed up every club the wrong way with his smarmy derisory offers? Has Billy decided to try and get the sack earning him a mega payoff? Who knows? The club are so secretive that rumours will always spread. If anyone from Forest happens to be reading this (Hi Mark!) can you please make an effort to communicate the situation to the ticket buying fans of Nottingham Forest? We were here before you, and will be here after you, please tell us what you are doing to our club. It might be Nigel’s money that he lends us, but it is 100% our club. He may have put money in, but our hearts have always been in there. We turn up, home and away, in great numbers, we obsess about the club, and we live and die Garibaldi and all we want to know is what is going on. Remember when the people running Forest seemed to care as much as the fans?

On a lighter note, there is a delightful new club shop. It’s big, looks like it could be successful and has a European Cup. It’s everything Forest was, and nothing what Forest is. Remember when we won things, fellow fans? I’m beginning to forget.

Kitbag: cheers for the shop mi’ducks. Nottingham Forest Football Club: sort it out, yah get meh?

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