It’s only a game…

17 01 2012

Saturday 14th January

Thoughts for the Day:

‘If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he’d have put grass up there.’

Brian Clough (1935-2004)

‘‎140 characters is way 2 few 2 come near describing the lackluster inept #NFFC performance 2day.’Relegation’ was writ large 4 all 2c :(‘

‘2day goes from bad 2 worse.1st #NFFC’s woeful defeat v Saints then #GRFC edged out of the Heineken Cup at Quins :(‘

@Tricky Tree on Twitter


Nottingham Forest 0 Southampton 3

This was my first outing to the City Ground for some time, and my first game since the pre-Christmas goalless draw away at relegation rivals Bristol City, but sadly nothing has changed.

I’m afraid Steve Cotterill’s brave new world is fast disintegrating into a nightmarish re-run of the David Platt and Gary Megson eras and a return to lowly League 1 (unthinkable 12 months ago) is becoming more of a probability than a possibility with every passing game.     

Forest, currently 22nd, have picked up just 4 points form the last ten Championship games, failing to score in nine of them, and their current form is the worst in the league.

The manager’s post-match ‘spin’ during this period would have supporters believe that despite such woeful stats, performances are getting better and we are about to turn the corner. If Saturday is anything to go by that is optimistic to say the least.

From the outset I never thought Cotterill was the right man for the job at the City Ground. Most ‘Pompey’ fans were pleased to see the back of him and his track record, outside of Leagues 1 and 2 is mediocre, at best.

At any other time, Cotterill’s job would be under serious threat, but we can’t afford to get rid of him, which rules out a moves for Neil Warnock (recently sacked by QPR) – a manager who does have a successful track record at Championship level – or a triumphal return for Billy Davies, whose unreasonable sacking back in July catapulted the club into a downward spiral that it’s never looked even close to pulling out of.

Saturday’s game vividly illustrated so much that is currently wrong with the less than ‘Tricky Trees’:

  •         Negative tactics – from the outset the game plan is simply to stop the other team playing and hopefully score from a set piece. This is Cotterill’s trademark modus operandi.
  •         Setting up with two holding midfielders at home – Greening and Moussi – is not only negative but has not worked all season; it has to be one or the other!  
  •         Lewis McGugan, the most likely player to create anything from the centre of the park – stuck out on the left touchline, looking totally disinterested. Is it time to  cash in?
  •         More  potential creativity and goal scoring talent on the bench than in the starting line-up. Andy Reid, Paul Anderson, Dexter Blackstock, all subs, &  Raddy Majewski left out!
  •         Captaincy has weighed heavily on Luke Chambers’ shoulders all season, his form has dipped dramatically. He is not currently worth his place in the side.
  •         Lee Camp, in goal, was the beating heart of the team last year. Ever since he was denied a move to Premiership Swansea at the beginning of the season he has lost his spark.
  •         No cover for inured defenders, but promising left back, Kieron Freeman, is sent on loan to Notts County, and Arsenal target, Jamaal Lascelles, is denied a first team opportunity. 
  •         Confidence is low, but doesn’t excuse the lack of passion from players who are supposedly, playing for new contracts. They  looke down hearted, disinterested and defeated.
  •         Worst of all the fans seem to have accepted the inevitability of our demise. I’ve never seen such a reaction, as when the 3rd Saints goal went in.Thousands of fans rose as one,           in abject silence, and made despondently towards the exit.

I was with them. At least I got a quick get-away and arrived home in time to catch the second half Sky coverage of Harlequins v Gloucester in the Heineken Cup.

Against all the odds Gloucester were leading, and edging towards an unexpected victory that would have left them with everything to play for in next week’s final group stage home game versus tournament favourites Toulouse.

My hopes were raised, but I should have known better. Just as in their opening game, away in Toulouse, where they led for so long, they were finally, cruelly denied in the dying stages.

This time it was a particularly wicked bounce of the ball that was their undoing. Clinging on to a 14-13 lead with less than ten minutes to go, a grubber kick from former England scrum half Danny Care evaded covering Gloucester winger Charlie Sharples, fortuitously bouncing off the knees of Quins full-back Mike Brown before he dropped on it to score the crucial try. A conversion from Nick Evans, who had kicked poorly all afternoon just rubbed salt into the wound and put the tin lid on my sporting day!  

The one saving grace was Valeria’s pizza for Saturday night supper – juat like her Mamma makes!         







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