Let’s face it, the most realistic way we have of seeing out this weekend without another defeat is if the weather forecast comes in at the more severe end of the prediction and we get the game snowed off. Rarely have I been able to muster up less optimism for a trip down Brian Clough Way despite a largely awful time of it contesting matches at Pride Park (’til a little over a year ago of course when we finally notched a win there).
We’ve lost three on the bounce, we’ve not scored since November except against Ipswich, we look passionless, shapeless and clueless with a manager who seems to not actually to have lost the dressing room, but never found it in the first place. However – we do have a couple of new faces to freshen things up, ex-Ram Danny Higginbotham and Manchester United youngster Scott Wootton checked in on deadline day to join Guerdioura on loan.
There is also the ‘boost’ of captain Luke Chambers returning from suspension. I’m not massively excited by this, in truth, as the skipper has been less than impressive this season – but let’s face it, we need defenders. Particularly since Moloney is again injured with a thigh injury, with Cunningham still out and of course Chris Cohen – injured in the clusterfuck of a game at the City Ground against Derby – remains on the long term injured list.
Our hosts are – of course – preparing to hand Nathan Tyson his third start of the season for the Rams, he came off the bench in their last game against Barnsley on his latest comeback from injury. Top scorer Theo Robinson remains a doubt with a calf injury – but let’s face it, Nigel Clough will be feeling confident that his side can twist the knife for Forest, and help to cement his position as an increasingly popular manager with the Derby fans.
Ordinarily even when we are the underdogs I’d find reasons for optimism in this fixture – but I’m struggling, frankly. Whilst we were poor under McClaren there at least appeared to be a plan – under Cotterill we’ve seen occasional glimpses of good performances (although they have been exceptions rather than rules), which inevitably end up with the side being completely rearranged and becoming rubbish akin to the game on Tuesday.
For the fixture to take right up to the wire to sell out for the away end speaks volumes – even at the grimmest of times there’s been a clamour for tickets to this fixture when it’s come in the past, this time around they’ve made general sale. That, Steve Cotterill, is a sad indictment on the confidence our supporters have in your regime. That, players, is why YOU OWE US a performance here.
A depressing number of people have suggested to me that a heavy defeat might be worth it if it facilitates the removal of the manager – and whilst I could never ever go that far, it’s not hard to feel at least a glimmer of sympathy with the sentiment. Much better would be to hope that a newly galvanised Reds, strengthened by loan arrivals and the increased opportunity for Sean O’Driscoll to remind the lads about passing on the deck, might actually kickstart some kind of bid for survival in this league.
There, who said I couldn’t be optimistic? Pah. I’m not looking forward to this. Not one little bit. Let is snow, let it snow, let it snow…