Prutton to sign after all?

I’d largely dismissed Prutton-talk – it’s been going on tirelessly, but according to Talk Sport he’s agreed a deal with Forest and is as I type travelling to have his medical.  Of course, what with the “Barry Cogan is in Nottingham!” rumours last week, it remains to be seen whether it’s true or just further desperate speculation from increasingly impatient Forest fans awaiting some activity in the transfer window.

Prutton, of course, was with us previously and the combative midfielder earned a place in Forest fans hearts for his spirited – if not always skillful – performances in a Forest shirt.  I’m not sure he’s quite the creative force many fans seem to want us to sign, but certainly he’ll put himself about which is also something that can go missing from our midfield on occasions, so long as he can control his firey temperament.

Other rumours doing the rounds are that we’re in for another as yet unnamed Southampton player, and that we are after Mark Yeates on loan from Tottenham, he’s a two-footed winger who’s highly rated, and just the kind of player (on paper) that many of us have been crying out for, so hopefully there’s some truth in this and Spurs are willing to do their former player Smoulderwood, and us – who gave them Dawson for what turned out to be a bargain – a favour, and get him some experience to boot.

Notable rumour-mongers (admittedly not always reliable ones, in fact, let’s be fair – they’re rarely reliable) claim there will be signings today, some stating as many as three – so fingers crossed we’ll actually get some transfer news to give us a boost after what was really a very disappointing FA Cup tie against Chelsea from an on-the-pitch perspective.  Roll on the next few days when at least – even if we have to endure the disappointment of not signing anyone – the infernal speculation and “I’ve got an inside source!” nonsense can cease at least for a few months!

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What’s it like to be outclassed?

Chelsea – 3
Nottingham Forest – 0

I certainly never even had a vague hope of an upset, so this result was very much to be expected – today has been all about the occasion, an opportunity to enjoy a game without any importance being attached to the result, to travel with my fellow Reds fans and make a load of noise.  To that end, it was very much mission accomplished – okay, there was a tiny glimmer of optimism that was hoping for a surprise result as well, but that was to be quickly extinguished!

The coach journey was fairly uneventful, and saw us arrive about 5 minutes walk from the Chelsea Village at around noon – giving us time to take in our surroundings; which have certainly changed considerably since my last visit to Stamford Bridge!  The outside of the ground offered glimpses of the absolute gulf between ourselves and this level of football, not to mention the series of very flash motors driving into the nearby carpark.

It was hard to miss the chaps from LTLF with their banner outside, posing for all and sundry from both press and TV – I’ve filched the below picture from another fan’s site, I’m sure he won’t mind!  It was saddening to read – upon returning and catching up with the forum gossip – that not only was the banner taken down after its fleeting appearance, but it was confiscated and not returned by an over-zealous official – hopefully the folks on the site make good with their letters of complaint as that’s out of order.

So on to the game – well, the first half involved Chelsea having a gargantuan 81% of possession, according to their scoreboard!  So it’s not really surprising that they were 3-0 up at the stroke of half time.  The first goal was unfortunate, a scuffed shot from Shevchenko looked easy for Smith to deal with, until Curtis deflected it beyond him leaving him wrong footed.  It was originally accredited as an own goal, before presumably Roman had a word with the BBC so it was re-accredited to his £30million plaything.

The second goal came direct from a freekick, Drogba smashing the ball into the top left corner of the goal; leaving Smith with little chance.  The final goal was disappointing, right on the stroke of half time, Smith made a save but Mikel was on hand to stab the ball home from close range.  So 3-0 down at half time, and frankly, we deserved it.  Forest looked in awe of their illustrious opponents, and Chelsea gave us a masterclass in running off the ball, creating space and first touch.  If the ground was to start to illustrate the gulf in class between us, the first half performance hammered it home.

Sammy Clingan replaced Grant Holt at half time – Grant had been operating as a left winger, but more often found himself in defence.  Sammy did add some calm to midfield and whilst never glittering, Forest did do better – highlights from our point of view were Agogo beating a man and almost laying on a chance for Perch – if only his foot were a few inches bigger!  Tyson almost broke through too, but lost out to a last ditch tackle – only for the ball to end up right at the other end of the pitch, where Shevchenko shaped up to shoot and put it out for the throw in!!

The final amusing bit of the game came when Jack Lester was on the pitch – as Nicky Southall laboured over challenging near the corner flag, Jack went flying in, won the ball and advanced on the penalty area before he unleashed the characteristic swan dive – amazingly the referee bought it, although the resulting freekick was rubbish as Southall chipped it to the unmarked Clingan on the edge of the box, when he really wanted it rolling to him to be able to fire an early shot.

Other than the game, the real story for us at least was the supporters – the Forest fans were in great voice, I had numerous texts from friends to say it was all they could hear on the BBC coverage – and the Chelsea fans were largely silent, vacuous and appeared disinterested in the game – many of them electing to leave early – many not arriving for the second half until well after it had started.

The fans opposite could be seen rising and clapping occasionally, what they were singing remains a mystery.  The fans to our left just stared, didn’t move, and left early – a few standing “giving it large” as though beating a division three side was some kind of achievement – definitely the poorest support I’ve witnessed given the circumstances.  It didn’t take long for the Reds fans to dominate the atmosphere again even after Chelsea had scored – they were that bad!

Ultimately, this was probably a pretty meaningless game against a small team to most Chelsea supporters – for us it was a chance to let off steam, and boy did we do it – the Forest fans did themselves and the club proud, and whilst the on-the-pitch showing was poor at best, the supporters showed themselves capable of operating at a higher level.  The only players who really had “good” games for me were Perch and Bennett, Clingan made a difference when he came on – it would have been interesting to see what Tyson could manage if he had any service at all.

Now back to the league…