The perpetual Forest manager dilemma…

With an appalling run of results over recent games, punctuated by the occasional decent one like at Orient, supporter confidence appears to be at a palpably new low despite Smoulderwood’s comments post-Crewe suggestion he wasn’t unhappy (but boy, doesn’t the bronzen one look worse for wear?), I’m starting to whiff the all-too-familiar whiff of a manager bereft of ideas.

I really wanted it to work out for Smoulders this season – whilst I, along with many others, were baying for blood after the shameful playoff performance at the City Ground against Yeovil, he did good work in winning me around with an impressive haul in the summer on the transfer front – and the promise of a decent attack-minded lineup seduced me into that irrational belief all us football fans can be familiar with.

However, and let’s be honest, this season has been dire.  Outside observers look at us gone out when we complain as we topped the table at Christmas, our supposedly strong home form and our placement within reach of the automatic promotion spots – but let’s face it, with the resources and squad at our disposal we have looked anything but convincing on the pitch.

Smoulderwood plays with a ‘must not lose’ mentality, which is of course an important component of any tactics – Clough himself would always speak of building a team on the foundation of a solid defence – however, he doesn’t seem to grasp the need for us to attack, nor how best to structure his sides to furnish the attacking players with chances to do so.

When we acquired him as a manager, I was surprised at the reaction of near-delirium from Northampton Town fans, who flooded Forest message boards thanking us for taking him off their hands.  I wrote this off as sour grapes at the time – he’d just got the Cobblers promoted, after all, so surely they should have had some semblance of fondness for the man who’d lead them to it?

It would appear it wasn’t sour grapes – unforgiveably I must admit there is a small part of me (and it is small) that fears that should we somehow haul our arses back into promotion contention, or somehow flourish in the playoffs (if we even finish in the top six at this rate!), that we’ll be kicking ourselves at it would make the removal of him that little bit more difficult.

How depressing is that?  Fortunately I fear this will not be a dilemma that we have to fear – as long as Smoulds is at the helm, I do not believe promotion will be forthcoming for us.  I’m sorry to say it, Smoulderwood appears to be a nice bloke, he has decent credentials from his playing days, but as a manager he has done nothing but infuriate and hamstring us – particularly when the pressure is on.

Of course, the worry is that we then have to rely on a senior management team who have delivered us a series of failures to appoint a new manager, that fear in itself is no reason for the incumbent to keep his job – but lord knows who we would end up with to replace him.  I wouldn’t be sorry to see him go, but can offer no solution aside from promoting Pemberton – who has been working wonders with the reserves – for the remainder of the season.

We face another crunch away trip as soon as Tuesday, down to deepest darkest Essex to face Southend, who have picked up again of late and will relish the opportunity to strengthen their own playoff credentials with a win over floundering Forest – how valuable a win at Roots Hall would be to us, but how unlikely it seems is a worry. 

Whilst we labour over this fixture, Carlisle will no doubt beat Luton at home, Doncaster will beat Gillingham, Leeds will beat Cheltenham and Walsall will beat Brighton – all these games at home for our promotion rivals – this would put us down to fifth, on equal points with sixth place Southend, teetering on the brink of dropping out of the top six.

Woe is me, today, eh?  However, this is Smoulders’ second season in this league, with a considerably bigger budget than his rivals, and he has delivered little or no meaningful progress – I see no purpose in seeking or joining campaigns for his removal, however I have reached a point where I would not be displeased to hear of his resignation or sacking.  And then, I acknowledge, we start the same old cycle again…

… which does open those that appoint these managers up for a bit of scrutiny, I would think.  Having said that, and echoing some of the comments in the other recent posts, as supporters we should be doing everything we can to back the side in the upcoming fixtures.  Not always an easy ask, but negativity and nonsense at games serves no purpose – save that for posting on here!

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30 Responses

  1. Great article, it is not easy to give full support when we feel we are under performing and we have the quality to do much better, but lets get behind the team and manager for the last 10 games. I am less than impressed with CC with his selections tactics and style of play, his ability to motivate seems non existent, but realistically I think we all know he wont be sacked or walk before the end of the season.
    Come on Forest fans even if it hurts get behind the club, it is only 10 games.
    U reds!!

  2. There is something wrong, i am as bewildered as anyone as to where to point the blame but it is 10 games and we must just back the team. U-Reds!!!!!

  3. Great article Nffc. There cannot be any Forest fans left still backing this clown. He should have been fired after the Bournemouth game with Pemberton being promoted at least giving him a fighting chance to instill some confidence and belief together with playing the right players in the right positions with the right tactics.
    Of course Forest won’t sack him now, the only good thing about this weekend is its another week nearer.
    We should now get right behind the team for 90 minutes of every game saving any abuse for the man who deserves it – after the final whistle !
    COME ON YOU REDS !!!!

  4. bring back paul hart

  5. I hope McCleary will at least be in the squad on tuesday.He was up for the crewe reserves game and not in the squad.Why ?

  6. I have asked it before – what is wrong with this clubs attacking mentality? Why not play with 9 defenders and a striker ? (Irony). For a number of years this club (my club) has let a succession of so called Forest strikers leave because they cant do it at Forest – strange they go on to do it at other clubs ! It’s now become more important not to lose rather than to win ! To gain success we have to score goals, I think somebody needs to remind CC that a basic of success is scoring goals not just stopping them, maybe we need a coach to defend and a coach to set up the attacking midfield and strikers. We don’t seem able to recruit a multi-talented coach to do both !

  7. very well put but it almost what i ahave been advocating for over a year iam sick and tired of reading and seeing tripe week after week just read and liston to calderwoods comments from time to time the man hasnt got a clue he doesnt know if he is coming BUT HOPEFULLY GOING

  8. NFFC, I’m with you 100% on this… every inch of me wanted him to succeed this season as he does come across as a nice bloke who does ‘want’ to take our club out of this embarassing league. However, I can’t remember who said it but one of the definitions of madness is to keep doing the same thing expecting different results; this seems to be where we are at the moment with his continual insistence on playing people out of position and negative tactics.

    As ‘mad’ as it may seem I share the view that part of me hopes we don’t qualify for the playoffs to a) assist in ridding ourselves of this clown and b) to save me from the inevitable crushing letdown that will inevitably come with a playoff semi or final.

    Oh woe is us!

  9. I am STILL not regretting letting my season tickets go after 14 years.

    Sad but true.

  10. I think maybe the lose of Neil Lennon will turn out to be crucial, sometimes the like of Lennon with his experience bringing stabitity to the midfield will be missed, ok maybe his legs had gone a bit but his football brain was still there, John Robertson at the time was undervalued, perhaps it was a bit to much to expect he would have got on with CC
    I would imagine Lennon was not one to suffer fools gladly, we are dropping down the table and it aint gonna change with Calderwood, wake up Doughty do something.

  11. You simply have to give this man until the end of the season. We all know he has underperformed as a manager, this is clear with the displays on the pitch. The Chairman has backed him all the way and yet despite all the odds the players are about as effective as a catflap in an elephant house. TIP to the chairman, employ a manager that will entertain next time…clearly the “win at all costs” ideal, is not working.

  12. Hi,

    I can’t help thinking of when we sacked Megson. We went on a 10 game unbeaten streak and ended up thinking “why didn’t we sack him a couple of games earlier” They took us from near relegation to 7th I believe.

    I don’t think CC will get us up, so lets give someone else the chance to try. If we don’t go up, at least we will have tried something and will be without CC now rather than the inevitable sacking at the end of the season.

  13. Really, really good article nffc.

    Lets back the PLAYERS. I don’t think we have too many gripes with any of them. I’d actually fancy us to win in the playoffs aslong as its not (Dirty) Leeds at Wembley in which case, we’d get skanked.

    Redsforever: I’m not convinced on the Lennon front. He hadn’t been playing for a number of weeks prior to his departure and at the time, he wasn’t really missed as McGugan was bang in form. I think where he has been missed is in the dressing room/on the training pitch.

  14. Question to you Nffc and everybody out there.
    If the result on Saturday is not favourable should there/will there be demonstrations (peacefull) in the Main Stand car park to demand a change of manager ?

  15. Spot on NFFC, however I can’t help thinking how interesting it would be to sack cc and replace him with Larry Lloyd and Kenny Burns!!!! Those two scary bastards would get an extra 10% out of the team and the City Ground would be jumping. Not sure about their tactics though!! I could see them being based around seriously harming the oppositions centre forward in the first five minutes!!

  16. I imagine there’ll be talk of protests at least – whether they materialise or not, I’m unsure – the ‘protest’ against Joe Kinnear was fairly small, although certainly he left shortly after – probably not as a direct result.

    The idea of Larry and Burnsy taking over would certainly be an entertaining one, Ash!

  17. At least cc could take pemberton with him to southend.It would do no harm to the team and some players like Davies who perform well for him playing in their own positions would certainly welcome a positive face in the dressing room!!! Or is ccc too proud or too afraid.The Chairman has put enough money into our club.For these vital must win games he should be prepared to try ANYTHING !!!!It’s VERY quiet from our chairman……….

  18. its a must win at Southend. No amount of spin from CC will convince me otherwise. No more of these excuses…it’s simply dire stuff

  19. This issue of the reserves doing so well clouds the issue slightly. There are a number of reasons they play so well:
    1. they don’t play in front of 17,000 fans who are waiting for their next mistake
    2. they play against teams who mainly come to play football, not put 11 men behind the ball
    3. they aren’t booed off at half time if they are not winning
    4. JP doesn’t have the anywhere near the pressure that CC does
    5. the team is full of young players trying to establish themselves in the game
    etc etc

    I suppose what I am saying is the ‘promote the first team coach’ may not be the answer.

  20. It’s not a good long term fix (or it might not be) – but I’ve got to the point where I figure the remainder of this season is a good opportunity to test him out…

  21. Paul, I couldn’t agree more. We (the fans) scare the players and manager…they are scared of losing. One loose ball…there are groans, one first half without a lead…there are boos. The team will lose more confidence with jeers, than with a poor performance. They are professionals, they don’t need us to tell them they performed badly. We just rub salt into the wounds by booing them. Even verbally attacking the manager re-inforces to the players that things are dire, and they are ‘losing’ the fans. Let’s try to be positive for the last ten games…hold the boos until the season is over…hold the criticism until the season is over. Let’s support Nottingham Forest – including the manager to the end of the very last game. Only then should we demand, or expect, an appropriate reaction from our very supportive Chairman.

  22. no, no, no. I do not believe in the flimsy excuse that the players are simply “scared”
    These are grown men on huge salaries for gods sake

    The fans are turning up, but week in week out we are devastated by the lack of passion shown in our club, top down. It starts with Doughty, we employ a defensive minded manager who is negative on a football pitch. It’s that straight forward. The fans have shown support but they bottle it with inpet half hearted attempts at football.
    The constant miss placed passing, the farcical substitutions.

    I will remind you, the players and manager are under no pressure. They get paid either way.!!!!!.
    Anyway, i’m holding my boos for now. If it’s a cock at Southend then bye bye Calderwood

  23. LOL

    Cockup!!

  24. I agree with what been said regarding us scaring the players into making mistakes. But surely if Calderwood had done a better job we’d be sitting pretty right now and making plans for the Championship? Instead, we’re staring down the barrell of another wasted season thanks to the Managers ineptitude.
    I for one don’t boo. Yes, i’ll grumble when Smith fucks up another clearance, Holt fails to use his pace down the wing or Julian plays another aimless ball down the left expecting Commo to be there (he’s not, Jules). I’ll have a deep sigh when the team is announced and it looks like we’re playing 5-4-1. At home. Against a top team like Millwall, or Northampton. I’ll even admit to getting out of my seat and hollering abuse when carslisle scored and Calderwood stood motionless, clueless. I don’t blame the players. I blame Calderwood for this debacle. He bought well during the summer, but has failed to get the best from these players.
    What other Manager would play Holt on the wing?? Who would buy a cracking right winger then play Holt in that position?? And I wont get started on the loan/transfer/striker issue.
    Learn from his mistakes? Bollocks, he’s just making the same ones and a few more besides.
    He WILL go in the summer. So the question is; do we say “thank you very much Colin, for leading us to a magnificent 8th in the 3rd Division, here’s a few quid, enjoy your next job”. Or do we bite the bullet now and ride the next few weeks on a wave of adrenalin and optimism.
    For all the Calderwood apologists among you, I applaud your loyalty (I can even understand your reasoning).
    But you know he’s slowly killing our Club, don’t you.

  25. Yes Mattyboy he is slowly killing the club. We WONT get promoted this season and so where does that leave us?

  26. Paul, i think you are talking a lot of sense. If I had all my clients on my back I would soon be under-performing.

    Being booed off after the loss to Carlisle (due to a GK error and the inability to finish off 1 of many chances in the first half) will have given the players just the lift they needed for the Crewe game…….

    Don’t get me wrong, if you pay your money you have every right to boo (I was at Wembley many years ago when the whole crowd was booing Barnes, myself included), but I just don’t think it is constructive for Forest given the current league position and the amount of games to go.

  27. NFFC is right.Calderwood will not get us promoted because of his attitude and tactics.I’d love to know what our players really think when they see his teamsheet and listen to his tactics.John Pemberton should be given responsibility for the 1st team until the end of the season.At least we would have some hope..If by chance cc decides to attack teams and play our players in their best positions we may make it ,but I cant see cc changing his ways now..Bring positive Pembo in now to at motivate the players.What have we got to lose!!!!!!!

  28. Since Brian left I have always backed every manager and always been disapointed when a change has been made( even including Kinnear and Megson)as all managers need time and the club needs stability, but if we don’t win tonight I’m afraid enough is enough. A change now could spur us on to a good final run in to lift us to second, If not I’m afraid another season in Div 1 on a championship budget will bring on serious consequences!!

  29. Calderwood doesn’t help himself or the players with his odd team selections. But defeats against Carlisle and Walsall (as painful and abject as they were) were not down to team selection, it was down to decent players like Commons, Cohen and Agogo spannering decent chances into the crowd…

  30. Rish – I agree. I Would rather see 442, but you can’t say that we don’t create chances playing 433 because we do! If we had put away 1/3 of the chances we create we would be top of the league – our finishing has been appalling all season, and that is down to the players.

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