illustration: Adam Poole
If last season was a blind date in town, what would it be like?
It would be a date where you've already seen a tightly-cropped photo taken from a high angle, so you think you’re about to meet a stunner, only to discover that she has a friend who’s good with Photoshop. However, you persevere, thinking that things have to get better. After a few treble voddies down BZR you get yourself to second base, only to find out that she is actually a he. Who then mugs you. However, as the night draws to a close, you find a fiver on the floor, which pays for a kebab and a bus, which you sit on, feeling a bit lucky and wiser.
What was the absolute highpoint of last season?
Beating Leeds 7-3. Not only for the scoreline, but the wonderful ‘Beating Leeds United, 7-3’ song, to the tune of Let It Be. Majewski’s hat-trick at Crystal Palace would come second, and being the only team to beat Birmingham at their place would also rank up there. The League Cup tie with County at the start of the season was a decent game - but with hindsight, given how laboured the eventual win was, it should have been taken as a severe warning.
And the lowpoint?
Pretty much everything else. Not the results per se, just the football. Dire, unimaginative hoofball. Low points of note: selling our future (Bamford) to Chelsea, which enabled Cotterill to loan in some overpriced journeymen; Matt Derbyshire somehow convincing someone that he’s a footballer; Ishmael Miller telling the fans to “F*** Off” on Twitter; Chris Cohen getting injured at the start of the season. None of this holds a candle to the death of Nigel Doughty, though.
Last year’s star player…
Joel Lynch. Solid at the back, finally given a chance to shine, duly does, and then now gone off to join another team – pretty much the pattern for any player who showed glimpses of ability last season. Honourable mentions also go to Adlene Guediora, Raddi Majewski, and Garath McCleary, who all outshone the rest of the squad.
Last year’s donkey…
Honestly, the City Ground was like Blackpool beach. Ishmael Miller, Marlon Harewood and Matt Derbyshire led the donkey derby (the only one they led all season), although the latter needs to drop out as he’s injured himself on the beach. Other players who seemed to forget their talent for the season include Luke Chambers, Jonathan Greening, Paul Anderson, Lewis McGugan and Lee Camp.
illustration: Adam Poole
If your manager ran a bar in town, what would it be like?
We've only just appointed Sean O’Driscoll as the gaffer, so I’ll take the easy route and talk about the former managers. The bar would be called 'Steve’s Place'; where the manager offloaded all the fine wine in the cellar for £3 a bottle whilst forcing £7 bottles of watered-down Miller down the necks of its punters. Which turned out to he non-alcoholic. As bankruptcy loomed, the brewery looked for a new manager - also called Steve, to save on signage and posters. All he'd do is try to stock the jukebox with LPs, and wonder why they didn't fit.
Who’s new at the club this season?
Everything! The Doughty estate finally completed the sale of the club to the Al-Hasawi family, who have made some big promises. At the time of writing the only acquisition has been O’Driscoll, but I’m confident we’ll be seeing at least eight new faces, hopefully more…
And who’s been lobbed?
Everyone! Cotterill has gone, Gunter, McCleary, Chambers, Lynch and Harewood too. And hopefully all of the back room staff will get their marching orders in the next few days. Ultimately only Gunter leaving will register as a loss to any of us.
Any other pre-season goings-on worth noting?
Nope, not really. There was supposed to be a trip to the USA, but that’s been canned. We’ve got some ‘glamorous’ friendlies with some low-end Premier League teams from the West Midlands, but to be honest I’d sooner watch the Olympics. Pre-season started with too few players to get a decent game of five-a-side going – I think the remaining few weeks will have to be about bringing in players and hoping they gel.
What are your kits like this season?
The away kit is excellent; electric blue with hypno-socks, and I look forward to seeing us play in it. Our home kit is plain red with the weird multi-shaded stripyness around the collar, that Umbro did for the England shirt. A little disappointing, personally; I’d hoped for pinstripes. The best thing was that local hero Carl Froch models them.
If you could nick one thing from the other club in Nottingham, what would it be?
The sense of scepticism that can only come from being burned by ‘investment’ in the past. I wish we wouldn’t fall so quickly for Greeks - or Kuwaitis - bearing gifts, and swallow every word someone says simply because we hope they will spend money on our passion. Unfortunately, the “once bitten, twice shy” rule means you first have to be bitten.
Who will be the more successful club in Nottingham by the year 2020, and why?
County, obviously. Nah, only yanking your chain; Forest by a long way. We’ll both be in the Premier League, only theirs will have the words 'Blue Square' in front of it.
Call your shot: what will your club do in 2012-13?
Play-offs if the owners are genuine in what they’ve said. Threatened by relegation again if not.
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