Forest to wing their way to playoff joy?

A frankly bizarre piece in the Evening Post today from Smoulders, he’s decided he’s going to make use of our wingers – particularly Commons and McCleary, but also mentions Davies who should be fit within the next couple of weeks.  This does seem strange since usually our formations usually seem custom-built by our manager to create a widthless shape with our widemen forced inside (or resolutely played inside either in ‘the hole’ or as a striker).

It’s incredibly reassuring though, I don’t know how long I’ve been banging on about our lack of width, but frankly it’s already started to bore me silly – so it must be similar for any other readers; and it’s not like I’m the only Forest fan who sees the problem either, judging by the message boards and indeed even comment in the local media.  Maybe Smoulderwood has finally started to realise – and not before time, if he does play a sensible formation with wingers – preferably without this ‘swap the wingers over’ nonsense, then it would do wonders for my attempts to stay positive during our final promotion push.

The idea of a conventional 4-4-2 formation with Kris Commons actually deployed on the left, and Garath McCleary on the right – both of them told to hug the touchline – is an incredibly appealing one indeed, it should open up the centre of midfield too preventing our games becoming a scrappy midfield battle that we’ve seen so often.  Oooh, I can honestly say that the prospect is genuinely exciting – let’s hope he’s not just talking a load of rubbish in the press!

Playoff place at least for Forest guaranteed..

With both Walsall and Leeds losing tonight, that means that regardless of any reallocation of points to Leeds this week will not prevent Forest from finishing inside the top six of League One this season.  There is, of course, still the slimmest of slim chances of automatic promotion (read: not a chance in hell!).  So, the fear we have had recently of dropping out of the playoffs altogether is quelled, and no matter how our remaining league games go, we will have a shot at promotion until the very end.

So thank you Bristol Rovers, and Huddersfield, who inflicted 1-0 defeats on Walsall and Leeds respectively.  Of course, it could be a veiled thank you if our playoff track record is to be continued; but for the superstitious types amongst us, let’s hope it’s a case of third time lucky for the Reds in playoff related endeavours – because I dread to think what another term in League One will do to our season ticket sales this time around, and probably the long term fortunes of the football club.

So, whatever is to happen we will be around with an opportunity to the end of the season – or at least the game before the end of the season, depending on whether we do enough to reach the final this time.  Onwards and upwards, I’m going to try out a bit of positivity to see if it makes me happier than being a grumpy sod!

The secret diary of Terry the kitman.. part six

Terry is trying to get up to date with technology by coming to terms with the internet – or more specifically by trying to understand why certain sections of the world wide web might have an unhealthy fixation with the kitman himself!

Disclaimer time: this is, of course, entirely a work of fiction – largely for my own amusement.  Any resemblance between the characters portrayed, and any real person or persons – be they an employee of Nottingham Forest or otherwise – are entirely coincidental!

However, you really can get Terry Farndale t-shirts, and he does have a group on Facebook!

Playoff ticket considerations..

It’s that time of year when we need to start fretting about tickets for the playoffs, and indeed, when they might be – well, thankfully we have a bit more information on that score.  The provisional dates for the semi-finals are Friday 9th May and Monday 12th May for the first legs, with the second legs proposed to be played on Thursday 15th May and Friday 16th May.  I would have thought if we finished 3rd/6th we’d get the Friday/Thursday combination, with a 4th/5th finish giving us the Monday/Friday combination.

The dates are subject to change however, so make sure you keep a close eye on the Forest website for further announcements, as these days are subject to approval from all manner of people.  The kickoffs for these dates should be at 7:45pm.  The final is to be held at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 25th May and will kick off at 3:00pm.

The other playoff related news Forest have released is that they’ve worked on a system of prioritisation for getting tickets for the home leg, and the (dare I say it?) potential appearance in the final.  Forest will give prioritisation first to season ticket holders, then supporters who have attended six or more home games this season, and then priority will be for fans who attend either the Luton or Yeovil matches which remain this season.  So ensure you use your client reference numbers for any ticket purchases.

It’s given me the heeby-jeebies just thinking about the playoffs!

From dour to Dowie?..

Normally I wouldn’t hold much truck with rumours printed in the Sunday People, particularly not when it didn’t even seem newsworthy enough to make it onto their website – but (as has been pointed out in the comments), it does bear a bit of scrutiny..

Dowie set to be Cald into action at Forest

Alan Nixon, 13th April 2008
Sunday People

IAN DOWIE is the red-hot favourite to be the next Nottingham Forest manager – if Colin Calderwood fails to deliver promotion, writes ALAN NIXON.

Dowie has been out of work since splitting with Coventry.  The experienced and highly rated boss could take on Forest in League One shortly as Calderwood fights to keep his job at the City Ground.

There has also been talk of Sam Allardyce being in the frame.

Personally I find this pretty alarming, admittedly Dowie had a fantastic season at Crystal Palace – taking them from near the bottom of the Championship into the playoffs, during which his momentum hauled them up into the Premiership thanks to a win over West Ham at the Millennium Stadium, but well, meh – he’s not exactly done much other than that, has he?  And mentioning Allardyce as an afterthought seems odd too, I can’t imagine Big Sam wanting to operate down at this level again.

I wouldn’t normally give much credence to rumours from the gutter press, although I had heard whisperings prior to this report suggesting the same thing – not that whisperings are any more reliable, but cumulatively it can become enough to start to make you paranoid!  Interestingly the whispering suggested that Smoulds was destined to leave regardless in the summer – make of that what you will.

Certainly any anti-incumbent manager utterings I make are always tinged with the worry of replacing them, because frankly if one thing can be blamed upon Nigel Doughty and his direct reports without much fear of debate from any fans, and that is is managerial appointments.  So right now I’m hoping that Milan Mandaric starts flexing that uncomparable impatience of his, and sacks Ian Holloway and nips in and hires Iain Dowie before we get the chance.

Ruthless finishing sees Forest ease past Tranmere…

Tranmere Rovers – 0
Nottingham Forest – 2

In an unusually ruthless performance, Forest made Tranmere pay by converting their two chances on target this afternoon to grab a win that the home side would have felt was a harsh result.  Goals either side of half time from Nathan Tyson and Wes Morgan were enough to give Forest the win.  It doesn’t quite confirm our place in the playoffs, but it does make the cursed circus at the end of the season seem all the more likely.

Smoulds made five changes to the starting lineup, Bennett returned in place of Lockwood at left back, Breckin came in for injured Wilson, Perch replaced McGugan in midfield, Tyson replaced injured Agogo and McCleary started over Commons.  The team lined up in the familiar widthless 4-3-3 arrangement, with Perch sitting just infront of the defence.  Predictably this lead to the home side enjoying plenty of possession early in the game.

Forest did look occasionally threatening on the break though, McCleary did well to win the ball in midfield and play a quick ball into Ormerod whose turn was good, but shot was off-target.  Former Reds striker Ian Moore had the first chance for the home side, doing well to escape the attentions of Sammy Clingan before firing a fairly tame side-footed shot straight at Paul Smith from around six yards out – a real let off.

The next chance fell to Shane Sherriff who, despite attentions from Luke Chambers, managed to get a shot away, but it was across the face of goal and didn’t trouble Smithy.  The home crowd thought their pressure had rewarded them with the lead after 20 minutes when a cross found Chris Greenacre unmarked to slot the ball into the net with ease, but fortunately for us the linesman’s flag was already up to disallow the effort for offside.

Tranmere continued to press, and an excellent cross by Shuker was met by Moore – but his headed effort was easily caught and held by Smith.  Shuker continued to prove a threat down the right had side of the the Rovers attack, and crafted an opportunity to shoot himself shortly after this, with Perchy being in the right place at the right time to deflect the effort using his head to keep Forest’s goal unbreached.

Against the run of play Forest took the lead, and it was pretty much our first decent attempt of the game barring Ormerod’s earlier miss.  Chris Cohen played a tantalising long-ball over the top for Tyson to run on to, seemingly strolling past Kay before rounding the keeper and stroking the ball into an empty net from four yards out much to the delirium of the travelling Forest fans.

The home side should have levelled it straight after – Ian Goodison having time and space to head the ball goalward, but only managing to hit the sidenetting, and so Forest were able to reach the half-time break with a one-nil lead despite creating very little, and defending resolutely, giving them the crucial lead that, had other results gone our way, could have confirmed our place in the playoffs.

The second half set itself up to be more of the same, Tranmere pushed forward and Sherriff crossed well to find Shuker on the back post, but again it was met with a tame header that was pretty much straight at Smith in the Forest goal.  At the other end, a short corner actually worked (!), McCleary playing it to Cohen whose cross found Morgan at the back post to head strongly into the top corner of the net to give Forest a very unlikely 2-0 lead.

McCleary was withdrawn for Commons as Tranmere also made a couple of changes, and Forest started to look more comfortable in the game – albeit playing very defensively.  Tyson had another chance on the break, but elected to shoot from the angle – narrowly missing – rather than setting up Ormerod or Commons who were up and supporting his run.  Tyson is to be credited with not responding to the absolute battering he picked up from the elbows of Goodison throughout the game – which the referee deigned to ignore completely.

Rovers had one more real chance in the game, a diving header from Moore that went wide after a Greenacre cross, after which they struggled to create a great deal – and Forest didn’t really look like they were wanting to create much.  Matt Thornhill came on for the hardworking Ormerod and Forest finished the game in a 4-5-1 formation, content to sit on the lead they’d somehow gained over the course of the game.

So all in all, a lucky win on balance of play – Wes Morgan was brilliant in particular – but it’s one of those wins, at this stage of the season, that makes you think back to results against teams like Bournemouth, Luton, Millwall, Bristol Rovers or Walsall where had we picked up points there, we would still be in the running for automatic promotion instead of making do with finishing in the playoffs.  Of course, mathematically speaking automatic promotion is still possible – just very unlikely.

It’s good to see a ruthless performance in terms of taking chances as they come, two shots on target and two goals is as good a return as you can hope for.  A very relaxed referee today too, who ignored countless elbows Tyson received from Goodison, then went and booked a Rovers player for taking a freekick too quickly!  It was good to see Tyson’s red mist was kept in check though, and he continued to work hard throughout the game despite unsavoury attentions from the centreback.

So we’re back up to fourth, agonisingly we’re just 3 points behind Doncaster and just 6 behind Carlisle (who lost today to a – shock horror – late Leeds winner), but with just three games remaining we’ve left any hope of catching those two far too late.  With the day approaching when Leeds should find out whether or not they are to be re-awarded any of their points back, there could be a twist in the automatic promotion tale, but not for us, I fear.

Where is our motivation?

It’s come to that time of the year when football teams start to woo their supporters to get on board for another season of thrills and spills.  You have teams like Bradford offering ‘2 for the price of 1’ on season tickets, and other clubs around the country offering incentives in the form of discounts for those supporters committing to renew their season tickets for another season – it’s potentially an exciting time.

Of course, as Forest fans we’d know very little about this – because Forest never ever offer any such foresight.  Almost inevitably, there’ll be the usual nominal £20ish ‘discount’ for renewing that we can no doubt expect, we can also expect to not discover how much we’ll be expected to part with for another season until this one is finished.  Whether that’s purely because we’re still in with a shout of promotion.

That’s where it’s all wrong.  A sub 16,000 crowd – albeit on a tuesday night – should be a stark warning to the powers-that-be at Nottingham Forest, it is a portent that fans are ready to vote with their feet, largely due to the awful football being served up by Smoulderwood.  I know people who live locally with season tickets who didn’t attend, because they couldn’t be bothered – that should be setting some alarm bells ringing somewhere – yet why do I get the feeling that those that run the club would be less worried by this, since they have their money anyway.

Whatever the season ticket pricing policy is to be next season, it would be nice to know in advance what is to be expected of us – having sunk hundreds of pounds, nay, thousands into a series of disappointing campaigns (understatement!), it has started to fill me with resentment that I have to wait until the season is finished, and our fate is known, whilst mates who support other teams may have already signed up for next season for a generous discount.

The only communication we’ve had as fans from the club lately is Smoulders babbling in the Evening Post about the fans impacting on the players performance with their negativity.  Sure, I don’t like to hear the crowd booing either, Smoulds, but the boos are largely for you rather than the players – and I can understand why, you are tactically naive and you don’t understand how to get the best out of your players – you are a poor motivator, tactician and coach.

There is an earsplitting silence from a board-level at Forest lately.  It seems unless there are announcements relating to improbable 50,000 seater stadiums (let’s face it, keep going as we are we could demolish the Main Stand and still have spare seats), then Mr Arthur isn’t interested in communicating with the fans – I would like to hear him come out and speak about season ticket pricing next season, not sit on his hands and see if we somehow haul ourselves out of this league through the playoffs to justify a price hike.

It’s not a nice time to be observing Forest and writing about them, but I do feel we are reaching a watershed moment for many fans – further underachievement for high prices will see more and more fans turning their back on the club, and whilst I wouldn’t count myself in their number just yet, I can’t say I blame them.  We’re at an all-time low in terms of league standing, and the mood of the fans is starting to reflect this – we could do with some motivation from the powers-that-be.  Will it be forthcoming?  I won’t be holding my breath…

… while searching for a suitable image for this piece, I found this link, which made me feel even more miserable!