With an appalling run of results over recent games, punctuated by the occasional decent one like at Orient, supporter confidence appears to be at a palpably new low despite Smoulderwood’s comments post-Crewe suggestion he wasn’t unhappy (but boy, doesn’t the bronzen one look worse for wear?), I’m starting to whiff the all-too-familiar whiff of a manager bereft of ideas.
I really wanted it to work out for Smoulders this season – whilst I, along with many others, were baying for blood after the shameful playoff performance at the City Ground against Yeovil, he did good work in winning me around with an impressive haul in the summer on the transfer front – and the promise of a decent attack-minded lineup seduced me into that irrational belief all us football fans can be familiar with.
However, and let’s be honest, this season has been dire. Outside observers look at us gone out when we complain as we topped the table at Christmas, our supposedly strong home form and our placement within reach of the automatic promotion spots – but let’s face it, with the resources and squad at our disposal we have looked anything but convincing on the pitch.
Smoulderwood plays with a ‘must not lose’ mentality, which is of course an important component of any tactics – Clough himself would always speak of building a team on the foundation of a solid defence – however, he doesn’t seem to grasp the need for us to attack, nor how best to structure his sides to furnish the attacking players with chances to do so.
When we acquired him as a manager, I was surprised at the reaction of near-delirium from Northampton Town fans, who flooded Forest message boards thanking us for taking him off their hands. I wrote this off as sour grapes at the time – he’d just got the Cobblers promoted, after all, so surely they should have had some semblance of fondness for the man who’d lead them to it?
It would appear it wasn’t sour grapes – unforgiveably I must admit there is a small part of me (and it is small) that fears that should we somehow haul our arses back into promotion contention, or somehow flourish in the playoffs (if we even finish in the top six at this rate!), that we’ll be kicking ourselves at it would make the removal of him that little bit more difficult.
How depressing is that? Fortunately I fear this will not be a dilemma that we have to fear – as long as Smoulds is at the helm, I do not believe promotion will be forthcoming for us. I’m sorry to say it, Smoulderwood appears to be a nice bloke, he has decent credentials from his playing days, but as a manager he has done nothing but infuriate and hamstring us – particularly when the pressure is on.
Of course, the worry is that we then have to rely on a senior management team who have delivered us a series of failures to appoint a new manager, that fear in itself is no reason for the incumbent to keep his job – but lord knows who we would end up with to replace him. I wouldn’t be sorry to see him go, but can offer no solution aside from promoting Pemberton – who has been working wonders with the reserves – for the remainder of the season.
We face another crunch away trip as soon as Tuesday, down to deepest darkest Essex to face Southend, who have picked up again of late and will relish the opportunity to strengthen their own playoff credentials with a win over floundering Forest – how valuable a win at Roots Hall would be to us, but how unlikely it seems is a worry.
Whilst we labour over this fixture, Carlisle will no doubt beat Luton at home, Doncaster will beat Gillingham, Leeds will beat Cheltenham and Walsall will beat Brighton – all these games at home for our promotion rivals – this would put us down to fifth, on equal points with sixth place Southend, teetering on the brink of dropping out of the top six.
Woe is me, today, eh? However, this is Smoulders’ second season in this league, with a considerably bigger budget than his rivals, and he has delivered little or no meaningful progress – I see no purpose in seeking or joining campaigns for his removal, however I have reached a point where I would not be displeased to hear of his resignation or sacking. And then, I acknowledge, we start the same old cycle again…
… which does open those that appoint these managers up for a bit of scrutiny, I would think. Having said that, and echoing some of the comments in the other recent posts, as supporters we should be doing everything we can to back the side in the upcoming fixtures. Not always an easy ask, but negativity and nonsense at games serves no purpose – save that for posting on here!