Where do we go from here? The more rational summary..

Right, I’m going to try to be deliberately philosophical.  One of the curses of my nature is that even when I’m hit by hurt or rage, I’m usually reasonably quick to calm – and after hauling my arse out of bed well into the afternoon after spending the wee small hours gauging opinions around the ‘net, I find myself still livid underneath, but with an outer layer of – whilst admittedly numb – calm.

Everyone associated with Forest has rightly come under intense criticism from all and sundry, and this is understandable in it’s entirety, I’m going to try to run down the list as it occurs to me and try to sum up from a vaguely rational standpoint.  I’m not saying this is what I would like to happen, more what realistically we could hope for.

Nigel Doughty – let’s face it, we’re stuck with him for better or worse.  Whilst he said that we were in good financial shape last night, we are still beholden to him as to replace him would require somebody buying him out.  We may be debt-free with him in charge (or nearly debt-free), but if he were to go I imagine he’d want the debts we owe him to be paid back.  In his position in the aftermath of the Yeovil game he has to back his manager, so I don’t really derive any great anger from that.  He was largely silent on the subject of his next-in-command, a man who I feel bears further scrutiny.

Mark Arthur – ignoring whatever influence he has on playing matters, he’s culpable for the relationship – or lack thereof – the club has with the supporters.  We have been short-changed yet again, a failed season is the reward for those who committed to a disgraceful increase in season ticket prices.  Upon leaving the Cricket club those close to this sport celebrated his departure – and Notts Cricket club is now flourishing after years of turmoil.  I wouldn’t be sorry to see him get his P45 and an appointment of somebody who actually seems to understand the game, and us fans.

David Pleat – a largely forgotten consultant – does anyone know what he deos?  He was brought to the club because of his football contacts, but what has that done for us?  I have no idea whether or not he’s on the club payroll, but I assume his consultancy services don’t come to us for free.  He seems to spend more time on his punditry career than providing any kind of service in either scouting players or tapping up his ‘contacts’ to get us any decent loan opportunities – as with Mr Arthur, I think his continued involvement with the club is not something I’m eager to see.

Smoulderwood – undoubtedly cost us not only last night, but on other occasions with his bafflingly negative tactics.  He was, of course, a defender – so you would think he’d be better at this tactically.  He interfered with a defensive unit that was working, and did nothing to take the pressure off them by improving infront of them.  He’s reached a position now where whilst I wouldn’t actively call for his head, if he were to fall on his sword and resign I wouldn’t exactly be sorry to see him go.  I think he’ll be here next season, and he needs to learn – and fast – about how to create a positive side playing decent and committed football, much like Russell Slade has created at Yeovil.

The players – I lamented last night to the chap I sit next to that as I cast my eye down the teamsheet on the back of the programme, I don’t regard any of them beyond a bunch of people I tolerate.  When I was younger I had heroes – some of the standard ones, people like Stuart Pearce, Nigel Clough, Steve Hodge or Des Walker – but even lesser heroes who might not ignite the national imagination, but to me were heroes nonetheless, be it for their passion, skill or workrate.  I “quite like” some of the current Forest squad, but there is not one player I would consider worthy of being a hero, and I don’t think any of them would make me particularly sad if they chose to leave.

The fans – almost 28,000 souls turned up last night including the passionate people of Yeovil, and generated the kind of atmosphere that was requested from the outset.  It’s true that some booed at half time, and you will always have the moaners – but what more do the club expect of it’s supporters?  We have witnessed, frankly, a shit season.  Even when we’ve won we’ve often been lucky or just plain negative – yet still they came.  This backing was not remotely rewarded with anything approaching effort – nor do I think it’s particularly appreciated.  I was particularly pleased that large sections of the support remained to applaud Yeovil Town’s players and supporters.

Now, the word from the top is that our woes were driven by injuries (this is a fair point to an extent – we have had rotten luck with injuries – however, we’ve also had opportunities to replace injured players which we’ve not taken), and the inability to attract sufficient quality of players.  Now this grates with me a great deal.  Firstly, there is an implicit acknowledgement that our current crop of players are not good enough – because the chairman speaks ruefully about being unable to get any better than them, but this is patently absurd.

Take a look at the Yeovil side that so convincingly beat us – do you think that they have a better buying power than us?  Do you think their players were on anything like the wages some of our wasters are earning for their ponderous plodding?  I don’t think they are.  In Russell Slade they’ve a manager who has assembled a side of hungry and talented players who work hard for each other and play the game exactly how we’d like to see it at the City Ground.  It is possible to get sufficient quality in League One, you just need to have a manager who knows where to find it, and how to nurture the players into getting them to provide it.

Next season will be the proving of Smoulderwood.  Five of the top six teams in League One played decent football, with decent players and two are promoted already, three still – as I type – have a chance of it.  The remainder of the six is Nottingham Forest, who have rarely played decent football all season, and are deservedly without a chance of going up now.  Smoulds will have to rebuild the side, as contracts are up and players with pretensions of playing at a higher level will leave, and if we are to be stuck with him, he must look to the work done by the likes of Russell Slade at Yeovil, Simon Grayson at Blackpool, Nigel Adkins (and formerly Brian Laws) at Scunthorpe and all those other managers whose sides occupy the league places above us and around us.

You see, they are the proof that Nigel Doughty is wrong.  Doughty asserts that we cannot attract players of a sufficient quality at our level, but let’s face it, I think that every single one of our players could be significantly improved upon by taking a player from one of the other top-six finishing teams.  Are you telling me, Mr Doughty, that Billy Sharp, Wes Hoolahan, Arron Davies, Chris Cohen and countless other players from these sides would not easily walk into our starting eleven without a second glance?  They would, you know.

The rebuilding must start here – and it involves the club taking a fresh outlook.  It is hard to reconsider our position with the rapidly fading grandeur of the City Ground as a backdrop, but that’s what we must do – we must use the Yeovils, the Scunthorpes and the Blackpools of this league as a model for how we build for the future.  No more overpaid primadonnas with pretensions of being ‘too good for this league’ – we want hungry, honest professionals who will graft for the cause and play decent attacking football.  Am I confident that the current powers that be can deliver this model?  Well no, frankly, and that is why I gloomily predict we will continue to wallow in this league where even now, it is Leeds and not us that will be the fixture that the other clubs are looking out for.