Has the manager lost the plot, or does he have a rabbit up his sleeve?

As the dust settles on deadline day, it seems to have left most Reds fans utterly baffled – self included.  We had the great news of David Prutton and Luke Chambers arriving on 30th, but on the deadline day itself the Forest culling machine kicked into action and despatched Thompson, Eaden, Cullip and Southall to pastures new – the first three, I understand – when I heard Southall had left I (naively) assumed that we must have a replacement in the pipeline.

Well certainly we don’t have a permanent one – there’s a possibility that we’ll loan a player to cover for this position, Neil Danns being a namecheck in the case of one particularly delirious attention-seeker (I’d love to be proven wrong on this front, but come on, be realistic!).  It seems like folly to me that Smoulderwood has dispensed with so many players whilst bringing only two into the squad – it’s true that our squad was too big, but now it’s looking painfully thin on the ground – we don’t even have a fit winger available!

I’ve blatantly stolen this idea from a thread on the LTLF forum, because it’s an interesting way of looking at a breakdown of our current squad:

Goalkeepers: Smith, Pedersen, Gamble, Roberts, Redmond

More than happy with Smith – he still has areas to improve, and I think (when fit) Pedersen is able backup.  I’m not that familiar with the abilities of the young lads, but it’s a worry when your fifth choice keeper is on the bench for a cup game against the Premiership champions!

Defenders: Breckin, Morgan, Chambers, Curtis, Bennett, Bencherif, (Perch)

I’ve bracketed Perchy as I’d like to see him remain a midfielder – if we start moving his position around now he’ll end up like John Thompson did.  I think we certainly have great centreback cover – and rightback is well catered for as Curtis, Perch and Chambers can cover this role.  Left back is okay if we get “good” Bennett, but there’s no natural cover.

Midfield: Prutton, Clingan, Commons, Perch, Holt, Hughes, McGugan

Both Hughes and McGugan show promise, but are largely unproven.  Aside from Commons there’s very little creativity in there, but a lot of hard work.  There is only one player I’d consider a natural winger – and we tend to play him elsewhere.  We have a solid (if uncreative) central midfield with plenty of options – but no width to speak of (except for Commons’ waistline, obviously).

Strikers: Tyson, Holt, Agogo, Lester, Dobie

As the LTLF threadstarter said simply: Plenty of numbers, but are they good enough?  Goals scored would suggest not – that said, they often get bugger all service from previously mentioned hardworking-but-uncreative midfield.  Tyson and Holt are undoubtedly good enough for this level, and Lester still has an impact as a substitute.  Agogo is too inconsistent so far – either a constant thorn in defenders sides or aloof and disinterested.  Dobie hasn’t convinced me so far, but he’s building his fitness.

So we have five goalkeepers, and 18 outfield players – which includes McGugan, Hughes and Bencheriff.  I’m not utterly convinced that this is enough – which is why it still bamboozles me that we’ve allowed Southall to leave with no replacement.  If a loan signing or two, and impressive ones at that, are not forthcoming over the coming week then I’m probably going to have to start to subscribe to the view that many fans are starting to express, that Smoulderwood has lost the plot somewhat… so here’s hoping he does have a rabbit up his sleeve!

We have less than 24 hours to sort a loan out in time for the increasingly important game at Bradford on Saturday (assuming we can – there seems to be some confusion as to whether we can loan now or after 7th February), and being in a pessimistic mood I reckon that we won’t do so – so whilst Prutts and Chambers will be available for this game, neither will really solve the creativity problem we have found ourselves with beyond the transfer window.