Three defeats on the bounce, into the relegation zone after eleven games – an eye witness account of a fairly typically poor showing from the boys in Red at Coventry. These are the stats and facts that will be running through the mind of Steve Cotterill as he takes charge of his first game as Forest manager. I imagine if he could have picked any opponent, then Middlesbrough wouldn’t have been too high on the list.
Having said that, Boro’s early storming form seems to have been replaced with a big run of draws of late – they took the lead at the Riverside against Millwall on Saturday only to be pegged back by the Lions. That said, they’ve yet to taste defeat this season with Tony Mowbray in charge – so combining form and everything else it would take a considerable ‘new manager syndrome’ to get a win.
On the treatment table we can add Joel Lynch to the longer term ranks of Cohen, Blackstock, McCleary, Anderson and Boateng – which gives Cotterill the same limitations of selection as the previous management team. Unless, of course, he starts to look to the youngsters for an injection of pace and urgency. It might be a bit early in his reign to expect him to resort to that, however.
Our visitors are likely to be missing Ikeme in goal, who missed the weekend’s game with a broken finger. Doubts surround Hines and Franks who are both back in training but still recovering from injury problems. It seems that goals have been hard to come by of late – it’s hard to imagine that Emnes, Robson et al won’t get plenty of opportunities against our disorganised defence tomorrow.
Bearing in mind recent history – Boro are perhaps a reassuring story of a side who have had a fairly rapid turnaround of fortune in the last year or so. Struggling despite appearing to have a decent enough squad last season, it’s taken a bit of patience and rebuilding to see them challenge under Mowbray. Interestingly it’s almost a year to the day that Strachan resigned, just before their trip to the City Ground.
In the match at Trentside we triumphed 1-0 thanks to an early second-half goal from Lewis McGugan, whilst at their place a rare Adebola goal got us a draw in March of this year. Either of those results would see me leave the City Ground either pleased or very pleased come tomorrow night, which I guess illustrates the stark change-in-fortunes both teams have undergone in the last year.
Sad to say it, but anything other than defeat looks like an achievement to me on this one – and that’s a depressing thing to say about a home game. Hopefully Steve can have an instant impact on our bunch of workshy primadonnas and get them working for him, and for each other.