Okay, so none of us expected James Henry to waltz into the first team and set League One on fire, propelling us to automatic promotion single-handedly whilst simultaneously rescuing kittens from trees. Well, most of us didn’t. It’s a bitter pill though that the only recognised right winger in our squad (even if on loan) has been shunted back to his parent club a week early, having only had a few minutes as a substitute for the first team.
This compounds the bigger error that Smoulds made, in my opinion – and I really think it could be the error that has cost us automatic promotion (of course, automatic promotion is still a possibility, but it should be a mere formality now). Our lack of a right winger sees us lumping Perchy there, a defender converted to a midfielder, Prutton – a central midfielder, Commons – our ONLY left winger (!) or, more often than not, nobody at all as everyone drifts central.
This means the focus of our creativity always falls upon the left side, where the less-than-consistent Commons plies his trade (when he’s actually played there), which means the opponents have the easy task of either (a) Commons not making as much effort as he ought to, or (b) when he is playing well, stick two men on him – which has the added bonus of overloading our unsupported left back, be it Bennett or Wright, when they’re attacking.
So we are one-dimensional, and that dimension is inconsistent – it’s no wonder we are so easy to manage and frustrate for opponents. Losing Nicky Southall without replacing him in January, I fear, will prove to be the straw that broke the back of our promotion bid. It’s fair to say Nicky was looking tired and off form before he left, and as he did – whilst I was sad because I valued his contribution to us – I assumed (naively) that we wouldn’t possibly allow him to leave without replacing him.
By taking a risk on a youngster, this was always the likely outcome – if I was feeling particularly cynical I would suggest the whole loan was purely to quell supporter unrest and was never intended to actually provide a real first team player. I’m not so sure that was the case, but it was poor management by Smoulds, very poor. Southall was contracted ’til the end of the season, we should have kept him if no replacement was forthcoming, and then he could have moved to the Gills in the summer.
Ho hum. It’s all misery at Forest lately, isn’t it?
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