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Left Brian: January

12 January 10 words: Richard Crouch
Only beaten three times this season, unbeaten away since March last year, and unbeaten, as it stands, in 17 games

Left Brian - shirt illustration by Adam PooleThis season Forest have some great players. In fact, over the past couple of seasons the bad players have been replaced with great players. We now have Robbie Earnshaw and Dexter Blackstock upfront instead of Grant Holt and Junior Agogo. We now have Raddy Majewski (My-eff-skee) and Paul McKenna (M-Ken-ar) in midfield instead of Gary Holt and Sammy Clingan, and let’s not forget, Billy Davies instead of Colin Calderwood. Not to take anything away from the players I’ve labelled as bad, they did a job, but we’re in a higher league now, and we needed to bring out the big guns. One of the questions I often wonder is whether they saw the writing on the wall and were aware of their own fallibility or whether their moving on came as some form of bombshell.

Back in October Alex Walker reported that these words had been said to him by LeftLion Supremo Jared Wilson “Get that f***ing piece written today or I’ll let Rich Crouch take over the column like I did the podcast”.

He should have written them on the wall of LeftLion Towers. I’m Rich Crouch. Pleased to meet you. Taker-overer of said Podcast (Download it now!) and now the Left Brian column. It’s very exciting for me so, to quote the Rolling Stones (which I may do from time to time), please allow me to introduce myself.

As I said, my name is Rich Crouch. I’m a Forest supporter, as I have been for many a year. I was round when Brian Clough had his moment of doubt and pain. That’s pretty much all you need to know, really. I’m here to shake things up a bit, provide some reporting and hopefully instigate a little bit of banter with our little brothers (awaits the torrent of abuse from Jared) across the Trent.

2009 was a strange year. I’ve been around for a long, long year, and it ranks as one of the better ones regarding Forest. It started with the appointment of Billy Davies and the survival in the Championship that ensued at the expense of Norwich City, ironically the club that Grant Holt now plies his trade for and the club Sammy Clingan left us for. Some summer spending, some summer training and some stern words from Billy have brought about a club now on the cusp of hitting the Premiership. Strange indeed. Especially when you consider the lack of secretive Middle Eastern ‘investment’ on what was, for a short period of time, deemed the ‘poor side of the Trent’.

 Nicky Shorey
Nickey Shorey
 Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale
 Victor Moses
Victor Moses

So we enter 2010 in a strong position, after beating West Brom at the Hawthorns (did you know it’s the highest ground in the country?), we sit second place in the table. An amazing feat, but perhaps slightly more amazing is that second place doesn’t tell the real story of the majority of the season so far. Only beaten three times, unbeaten away since March last year, and unbeaten, as it stands, in 17 games. We conceded a goal on Friday night at West Brom for the first time in ten and a half hours of football (and the goal scored ten and a half hours ago was a dodgy penalty for Leicester). In fact, the last 3 goals Camp has conceded have been in games with scorelines of 4-1, 5-1 and 3-1. That’ll do! Before West Brom, the last team to score against us in open play did so in November 2009. It’s now January 2010. That’s not just victories; it’s just conceding a goal. Whilst we’re on the subject of Lee Camp, we have still NEVER (as I write this) lost an away game (I’ll caveat this with the unnecessary ‘League’ prefix, just incase we lose to Birmingham tonight) with him in goal.

I suppose it wouldn’t be a great example of using all of my well-learned politesse if I didn’t mention the transfer window, being as we are in January. For the first time in a long time it looks as though we will be active. We have already extended the loan period of Nicky Shorey until the end of January, and it looks as though Billy is keen on signing him for the rest of the season. I’m keen on that too. We’ve only conceded one goal with him in the team, and with him cup tied for the Birmingham game, I can confidently write that we have never lost a game in which Nicky Shorey has featured.

The other much talked about target is Gareth Bale. A left back at Spurs who was reported to be the next greatest left back of all time or something equally outlandish. Word is that Billy would deploy him as a left winger, should Shorey be here longer term. One thing is for sure, though, they are both Premiership quality players, and having a team filling up with Premiership quality is a certain sign that we are headed for the Promised Land of Match of the Day, weekly dodgy internet streams and tabloid interest. So, those are the two names we know Forest are interested in, but who else? Do we need anyone? The forums are awash with talk of Victor Moses from Crystal Palace for £3m, is he worth it? He’s attracted interest from clubs such as Man City, Liverpool and AC Milan. Can we compete there?

I love transfer windows, purely for the rumours. Everyone seems to know someone in the know, and offers up their ‘100% guaranteed inside knowledge’, and rarely does it happen. One thing is for sure, though; we’re definitely looking at players capable of playing at the highest level, which is where Forest look to be heading.

I’ll leave you with some final words of wisdom: What’s puzzling you is the nature of my game. I’ll watch with glee, while your Kings and Queens fight for ten decades. For the Gods they made, I shouted out, “let’s beat those sheep shagging b***ards on the 30th of January, mi’duck”.

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