Forest home, 2013-14 [illustration: Adam Poole]
Ayup youth. It’s been a while since I got to sit down and bash out some words for you to read, but as the new season is now thrillingly underway it seemed logical that I put down my thoughts so far.
It started off well, with some good names joining the ranks at Forest. Eric Lichaj the American right back has joined us and seemingly ushered Jara Reyes to the bench, which is a shame as both are terrific full-backs. On the other side of the field we’ve seen new captain Chris Cohen look as though he’s taken up the mantle of left back and captain; indeed, in our first game of the season, when he made Lansbury’s goal for the 1-0 win, his pass and dash into the box reminded me of a certain other left back and captain from a more golden era on Trentside.
Up top we’ve brought in Jamies Mackie and Paterson, from QPR and Walsall respectively, the former making a big impact with his help for the goal in our 0-1 away win at Blackburn and the latter seeming to be getting up to speed in the Championship and looking very dangerous in the games he’s played. Also brought in permanently was Darius Henderson who has had an incredibly underrated start and hopefully will generate the praise his work-rate deserves while he’s wearing the garibaldi.
The middle is bolstered by new boy Nate Chabolah on loan from Chelsea after very successful season with Watford last term, and hopefully a decent replacement for Guediora who departed for Crystal Palace on deadline day for a reputed £2.5m. That money covered the acquisition of exciting fellow Algerian Djamael Abdoun. The tricky winger is looking more and more dangerous as he gets to grips with the speed and physicality of the game over here. I’m expecting good things from him.
Heading back to the defence, Dorus de Vries comes in as goalkeeping cover for the ever improving Karl Darlow, while Lichaj and Cohen are split by the formidable centre back duo of Kelvin Wilson and Jack Hobbs. With a back five of Darlow, Lichaj, Wilson, Hobbs, and Cohen we’ve looked as solid at the rear as I can remember. My personal view is that while the goals we may generate from our more attacking players may well win games this season, our miserly defence looks set to win us promotion.
The new acquisitions may be exciting, but little has been more exciting than the form of midfield maestros like Andy Reid and Raddy Majewski, who have been the creative forces in the middle of the park of which we all know they’re capable. Andy Reid currently sits as our top scorer, having scored some absolute beauties this season, the best of which probably coming in our 1-1 away draw at Watford before former red Lewis McGugan cancelled it out with a sublime free kick, forcing us to share the spoils in what has probably been the game of the season so far. Mention has to go to both goalkeepers, Darlow and Watford’s Almunia, for keeping the scoreline so low in that encounter. A phenomenal save from Almunia in the dying seconds denied Ishmael Miller what would surely have been a winner in a game that both sides probably deserved to win.
As we plodded on and got ourselves to the top of the league our away form has started to dip slightly, though it’s my belief that shocking refereeing has been responsible for a lot of dropped points this season. Away at Wigan we were unlucky to not get at least a point in a game where the ref was clearly influenced (not in an illegal, Stephen Lee, kind of way) by the loathsome Owen Coyle into giving Wigan everything they dived for.
Having lost away at the DW, we followed up with a less than convincing but still-worth-the-same-amount-of-points 3-2 win at home to Barnsley. We conceded two goals that should never have been. Poor Refereeing led to both a penalty for the Tykes and a free kick in the second half, though there can be no doubt about the quality of strike for the free kick, the quality of the refereeing that led to it was at best below par.
Having won a few battles, back-to-back 2-2 draws at home to Middlesbrough and away at Doncaster have created an unforeseen blip in our title ambitions – both draws were secured by late equalisers from us, and it’s felt a little like we’ve ridden our luck at times in those games, but they do leave us sitting nicely in sixth place and on course to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. And among the many bright spots for the season so far has been Matt Derbyshire realising that he was being paid to play football and not just go to the cinema every day. Chalking up 3 goals so far, he does look as though he’s ready to chip in with more if he gets the game time.
With a slight change of tack, I think it’s worth mentioning the off-field goings on at the City Ground recently. As ever with Billy in charge, there seems to be a little bit of controversy that’s neatly overlooked while we’re doing well and will no doubt raise its head if we happen to be doing not so well. With no discernible reason given, the club have decided that the media aren’t doing a good enough job
, so have decided not to talk to them and instead are using their own in-house media department to communicate with fans.
Now, this may not be a bad thing. Perhaps you agree that the standard of reporting by the media has been poor; I certainly wouldn’t vehemently disagree with that, but the decision to go entirely in-house is fraught with difficulty
. If they are to do everything in house, and that might be a great way to go, I feel like they need to up their media game. Interviews available on Forest Player seem to be a little soft ball, and don’t really seem to ask any questions that people may really want answering [surprise, surprise – Ed.
Billy refusing to speak to Sky before our game at Watford is a case in point of how the decision to limit media access may not be a wise one. While generally pissing off local reporters probably comes with little consequence, I get the feeling that starting to irk Sky may be a poor decision if we’re looking at being promoted. Let’s also not forget that Sky do sponsor the league we’re currently in.
One other gripe I have this season is the use of the big screen pre-game. Why oh why don’t we have some kind of montage set to music that’s relevant to that that day? I’d like us to make some great use of it, and so far it’s not been that great. Except, of course, when Bill Medley turned up and they showed a clip from Top Gun – that was excellent use of the big screen!
Next up, Derby. Hopefully we can ignore all the press blackouts, the big screen, the bad refereeing, and concentrate on sticking five past them again. They’re looking half decent on their travels, but I think we should have enough to cover them. Wilson is a doubt for the game as he’s feeling a little back pain, which worries me, but I think he should be fit for the big one.
Personally, I can’t wait. Remember it’s an early kick off. Get yourself down there and make yourself heard.
Until next time, I’ll see thee.