Earnie signing finally confirmed..

All those folks who’ve been insisting ‘it’s a done deal’ can feel smug, because Forest have finally confirmed that they’ve completed the capture of Robert Earnshaw from Derby County, for a fee of £2.6m.  The Welsh striker has signed a three year contract after completing the formalities of his medical etc yesterday, before having an amusing picture with Nigel Doughty being taken.

So, the song wasn’t premature afterall, and I’m thrilled we’ve signed him – regardless of whispers of him liking a drink or two, Smoulds has been pretty careful at not upsetting the balance of the squad in the past, so I’m sure he will have done some checking on this front, Earnie is a proven prolific striker at this level, exactly the kind of player we need.  It’s also reassuring to red Nigel Doughty stating the aim is to bring in 2-3 more signings.

So well done Forest, and welcome on board Robert – I’m very pleased and pretty excited by this news!

Poetic justice for Pierre!

It was with no small degree of amusement today that I picked up a copy of the Nottingham Evening Post to find the front page emblazoned with a picture of former Reds striker Pierre van Hooijdonk.  Of course, he needs no introduction – a talented striker and basically a guaranteed goal-from-a-freekick merchant who subsequently had a bit of a tantrum and then went on strike, only to resurface later demanding a loyalty bonus!

To return to the striking situation, I do have some sympathy with Pierre’s reasoning – Forest were basically being asset-stripped by Scholar and his fellow shysters, with Kevin Campbell and Colin Cooper having been sold off (albeit, in Cooper’s case, due to a clause n his contract should Middlesbrough come a knocking), he was rightly pissed off that the squad wasn’t being developed to compete in the coming season.  However, his actions were inexcusable and he’s rightly remembered for being a bit of a bastard by Forest fans.

Well, it transpires that a while back he decided to invest some of his not inconsiderable wages in a Chinese textile company.  Two million pounds is the figure being bandied around in the press; perhaps given the growth in exports from China lately it would seem like a sure deal, but unfortunately for Pierre it turned out that the company he invested in was a complete work of fiction.  Tough luck, Pierre!

Now it’s not nice to gloat over the misfortunes of others, even if they’re buck-toothed bastards who screwed you over in the past, but I couldn’t help but have a wry smile about it.  Given that arrests have been made in Holland and Belgium already, I suppose there’s a possibility he may be reimbursed – but well, the spiteful person in me can’t help but hope he doesn’t!

Oh yes, and a little bird whispered to me that the much vaunted ‘surprise’ Premier League preseason opponents at the City Ground might just be a side from the north-west of the country, one with a sweet tooth.

Of course, I could have been misinformed, but you never know, you could’ve heard it here first!

Up the football league we go…

I took advantage of a friend popping down to the City Ground today to pick me up a copy of the DVD Forest released of the Yeovil game, as well as the ensuing celebrations; and pre/post match interviews.  It represents £8 very well spent indeed, for me to relive the memories of that fantastic afternoon, for those of you unlucky enough not to have attended, you can perhaps use it as an opportunity to make it seem more real!

I’ve yet to watch the match itself, which has been overlaid with commentary from Colin Fray of Radio Nottingham fame (makes a change from the morons they employ to overlay commentary on the Virgin Media videos!), but the DVD itself is structured nicely with a menu featuring a soundtrack provided largely by the Forest fans, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the match again, or to view the extras.

The montage of celebration videos – which I understand featured previously on Forest World – really does bring home how much it meant to the players and staff alike; they were as thrilled as the rest of us, and it was great to see that – even Judas Commons seemed to be enjoying it despite seemingly already sealing his fate in his head elsewhere – and it was good to see a few glimpses of the great Terry the Kitman amidst the fountains of champagne.

It’s left me very intrigued by the person who Smoulders references in his post-match interview; apparently somebody contacted him and gave him a book which proved, in the words of the manager himself, “an inspiration” – he wouldn’t be drawn on what the book was, but to whoever it was who got in touch with the gaffer and perhaps offered more positive and constructive criticism than many (including on this site!), then hats off to you.

So you should definitely get yourself a copy, a great compilation and a way of owning a solid version of those fantastic scenes – I’ll reiterate the really pleasing thing, almost to an emotional level (being a big softy at heart), it’s fantastic to see how much it means to Smoulds, the staff and the boys – and it’s a great memento of a day of celebrations that have proven rarities in our recent history.

It’s available from the Club Shop at the City Ground, or for order online.

Something exciting happened today..

Well, comparatively speaking given the general lack of excitement in the world of Forest news.  However, if you click on the NewsNow link, Forest have been magically moved from the League One news feed into the Championship one.  It’s little things like this, and when we move into the Championship section on the BBC football site, that make things seem more real – things that made me thoroughly depressed when we left that league!

Simple things please simple minds; and it’s a good job, because there’s been no real developments at all on our bid to bring Earnshaw to the City Ground, nor on the opposite move of Kris Commons.  Lots of rumours, of course, ranging from ‘they’re done deals‘ to ‘he’s off to Stoke really‘ (Commons) or ‘he failed his medical at Derby!‘  It’s an absolutely infuriating time of year for this; seemingly everyone and his dog knows somebody ‘in the know’, yet despite these all these contacts seem to know something different!

Something of genuine interest to Reds fans is Forest’s release of a DVD of the final game of the season, which includes such treats as commentary by the BBC Radio Nottingham team of Colin Fray and John McGovern, including plenty of footage of the ensuing celebrations.  So I’m told, anyway, I’ve yet to avail myself of a copy, but will be doing next time I have a chance to pop down to the City Ground.  You can also buy it from the Forest website should you so wish, for the reasonable sum of just £8.

Hopefully they’ve overlaid any footage of Commons with a big black box (he says jokingly, I’d quite like to see that goal again, to be fair).

The only other news of late reported in the world of the official Forest site are a couple of job opportunities to either be an Account Manager, whatever that is, in the Corporate Sales team, as well as a role to do with Forest World – which appeals massively to me, although I don’t doubt that a combination of my lack of expertise in media things as well as the likelihood of Forest paying peanuts would preclude me from even considering pursuing it!

I’ve not watched anything on Forest World for a long time, long since having had my free year’s subscription (which lasted about 3 years!) expire on me – my memories of it weren’t particularly great, hence not paying up to renew it; particularly pertinent given Virgin Media showing footage of goals online within a few days of our games now too.

The Leeds United dream is over as Rovers win at Wembley..

As game wound into the sixth minute of the four added on, it was apparent that the late rally that has served Leeds so well on countless occasions this season was not going to be forthcoming.  Their tired players were unable to muster the last minute charge that would have taken the play-off final into extra time and given their turbulent season a fresh chance of a fairytale ending.  

The whistle went, and it was the South Yorkshiremen from Doncaster celebrating their promotion to the Championship, leaving the weary battlers in white prone on the pitch, scenes of red and white celebrations washing over them to compound their misery.  It’s a scene I had no small degree of sympathy with, having seen numerous aborted promotion attempts by Forest over recent years, so I find myself somewhat impassive to the rampant gloating that seems to have swept the Internet.

Having amassed enough points to secure automatic promotion, the fate of Leeds was ultimately decided by the Football League’s decision to punish Ken Bates’ financial machinations, not by on-the-pitch endeavours.  Whilst of course, my own team profited from this by snatching an automatic spot on the last day.  It’s a pretty sad time for the sport when such off-the-pitch shenanigans have such an impact.

For Doncaster, of course, they are rising like a phoenix from the ashes of significant financial irregularities themselves – now ensconced in the impressive Keepmoat Stadium, they are a far cry from the side that played at the grossly inaptly named Belle Vue Stadium – once put to flame by a former chairman to get the insurance money.  They are worthy of congratulations for a monumental rise, just as I have sympathies with the Leeds fans, suffering for the deeds of their owners.

So what now for Leeds?  Well their remaining in League One isn’t exactly without precident, it took us three seasons to elevate ourselves from English football’s third tier – in our first season we didn’t even scrape into the playoffs despite a late rally.  To have achieved a playoff finish despite a fifteen point deduction, despite a squad thrown together days before the season kicked off, despite losing their assistant manager then manager part way through – it’s a pretty phenomenal achievement when you think about it.

As they contemplate their second season in League One it should be with some degree of confidence.  No deduction of points this season, no restrictions on player signings.  With better preparations then there should be an opportunity for them to go one better than us and achieve promotion at the second attempt.  And personally, I wouldn’t begrudge them that celebration – it is always the supporters who suffer at the hands of events like Leeds have undergone.

Of course, congratulations are due to Doncaster Rovers, who make up the last place in the Championship.  Numbering some 10,000 fewer in supporter numbers on the day, with their ticket office having to be closed after being laid siege to by Leeds fans desperate to get to Wembley, the odds did look somewhat against them.  Credit to them, they held firm and take a deserved place in the promotion party that has been raging in Swansea and Nottingham for some time.

It will be interesting to observe the ongoing saga of Ken Bates’ Leeds United.  Two entities joined and forged in so many football fans’ heads as things to dislike, you can almost see the irony in their coming together.  Whilst I’m no fan of Bates I’ve learned over the last year that the irrational dislike of the entire football club is oft misplaced, indeed, every Leeds fan I’ve encountered either in reality or in a virtual sense has challenged my previous perceptions of the club – as such, I wish them well next season.

Especially against Leicester City.

Breaking news: There is no news..

The pieces have almost come together, with the Championship play off final being decided by a Dean Windass strike sending Hull City into the top flight, it means we will have Bristol City to play this season.  We just await this afternoon’s League One encounter at Wembley between Doncaster Rovers and Leeds United to complete the list of opponents we will face next season.  I must admit that tempting as it is to follow the bandwagon of backing Doncaster, I do have some sneaking sympathies for Leeds too.  Should be an interesting game.

The last week has been a case of lots of rumours and no news at all; it would seem that Derby are pretty unimaginative when it comes to targeting players – being linked with obviously Commons, and also now Nathan Tyson.  Given the delay in any announcement, I would think that Kris is seeking options elsewhere rather than sign for them – I hope so, because it would be hard to stomach a supposedly self-confessed Forest fan going to that lot.  I don’t mind the idea of him leaving – because I don’t think he’s worth the kind of money being bandied about.

Similarly it would appear that Earnshaw is weighing up his discussions with Forest over his move in the opposite direction, as it’s all gone rather quiet on that front too.  We’ve also been linked with attempting to permanently sign Paul Anderson from Liverpool for £750k, competing with a season-loan move by Swansea (where the player spent time previously), which is at least a different rumour if nothing else!  He’s a winger, which immediately sounds suspicious since Smoulders’ preferred formation doesn’t involve wingers!

Off the pitch then you’ve probably had your season ticket renewal packs through, a swanky affair in red cardboard with a Forest tree and two silver stars.  I believe this is part of the emphasis on the 30th anniversary of our first European Cup win rather than acknowledgement in the form of Michelin Stars for the Chicken Balti Pie offering available in the concourses of the City Ground.  I was impressed that the carefully selected photos didn’t feature Kris Commons, as well as with the pack in general – well done Forest’s marketing team!

Certainly a marked improvement from the days of us being Serious About Promotion!

The remaining news was confirmation of another pre-season date with neighbours Notts County, this time it’s a late one – August 2nd at 3pm – which will be the week before the season kicks off.  Last season we won the fixture 2-1 thanks to two Luke Chambers goals, although the game will better be remembered for the hordes of pitch invading chavs scrapping with one another – so let’s hope that isn’t repeated this year, indeed, this week too the Post reported on the punishment meted out to a couple of chaps involved in the incident.

Speaking of Notts County, a reader sent in this picture they took when walking along a road in Mapperley, it perhaps is amongst the saddest sights you could imagine, and worst of all, the vessel in the picture hasn’t even undergone its wheel falling off… just a flat tyre!

And then finally, also from the Nottingham Evening Post, a kind reader sent me in this picture of Reds player of the year Julian Bennett clearly playing pool with Shaun Wright-Phillips – amazingly this hasn’t been picked up on the rumour-mills but clearly the Reds must be planning a shock loan move for the England player, perhaps taking advantage of Avram Grant’s departure from Chelsea and the subsequent confusion this will cause…

Okay, perhaps not.  It’s going to be a long summer, isn’t it?

Will Commons sign his soul away?..

Hot on the heels of Smoulderwood deciding to allow Commons to leave without even offering him a deal, our dear neighbours have been quick to announce talks with him are already underway to make him a Derby County player.  I imagine that a few other clubs will be trying to get hold of his agent too, I hope they can gazump the Rams because I could probably bring myself to forgive Kris then, but if he joins them then frankly, he’ll prove to be a greedy Judas bastard and a liar.

I’m not particularly adverse to the idea of him moving on, whilst I’ve said before I’d prefer it if we were able to retain his services, but not to them.  Not after he’s hammed up his supposed status as a Forest fan from childhood, not after he conceded to a year’s extension last year so that he could play in the Championship with Forest, or move on if we didn’t get promoted.  I don’t expect loyalty per say from footballers, quite the opposite, but if they go out of their way to suggest being a supporter as well as a player, then there are certain things you just don’t do.

Even though this isn’t an exactly unexpected development, the reaction around the forums is rather like that of a spurned lover; ranging from ‘he’s shit anyway’ to ‘he’s a fat useless bastard!’ – let’s be realistic, he’s neither of those, but being rational he’s not irreplaceable.  He’s played most of his career in either struggling Championship teams or in League One, and whilst on his day he’s devastatingly good, he doesn’t have those days very often.

That said, if he signs for Derby then that rationality goes out the window, of course.  I wonder if Ladbrokes will take bets on him having one of his many injuries when the Sheep are due to visit the City Ground in the coming season?  Just think, Commons joined Forest from Stoke in search of better things, and ended up getting relegated whilst Stoke have patiently developed a promotion winning team.  Here’s hoping, should he do the evil deed, history has an opportunity to repeat itself.

Of course, perhaps this is an audacious Harry Redknapp style move to join a hated rival, assist in their downfall to a triumphant return!  Perhaps that’s the way I’ll choose to view it should he sign his soul to the devil, so good luck Agent Commons – your mission should you choose to accept it is to bleed their finances dry whilst repeatedly underperforming and getting injured… this tape will self destruct in 10 seconds…

… again, assuming it does happen, I’ll keep up my part of the pretence by calling you a shit fat bastard!  So Kris, if you read this, turn down the Sheep and go somewhere else and self yourself a load of grief, because I don’t like being a childish so and so, but if you do it, you leave me and so many others no choice!

If my childish photoshopping isn’t amusement enough for you, then click here too – because it right made me chuckle, well done whoever made it!

Commons gone..

Whether it be to Derby or elsewhere, Kris Commons certainly won’t be turning out in the Garibaldi next season.  Apparently despite noises from the club about being keen to keep him, he made it clear his head had clearly already been turned shortly after the Reds confirmed promotion to the Championship, as such Smoulds hasn’t offered him a deal at all.

As I mused before, I’m disappointed because he’s a decent player – albeit an inconsistant one.  If the rumours suggesting he is going to Derby are true, then I’ll be more emotionally disappointed than in a strictly footballing sense.  This will be somewhat mitigated if we manage to get Earnshaw and Nyatanga from the other direction, both of whom I’d be very happy to see in a Red shirt.

I would reemphasise that I don’t think Commons is irreplaceable, but we must work to ensure he is replaced, because at times he provides that vital creative spark we sometimes need when we’re struggling in a game.  News that Felix Bastians and Alan Power are being released would suggest Smoulds is not looking to simply raise a midfielder from the ranks.

So fare thee well, Kris, unless you choose to go down the A52 in which case you can rot in hell!  Official Site type confirmation is here.

Commons in talks with Derby..

The ballad of Kris Commons plays on, on recent bulletins of Sky Sports News the Derby County chairman Pearson confirmed they were in talks with him over a move down the A52.  He also said that Kris was still considering the options open to him, so unless some crazy mind games are on the go, you can probably forget all of these “I know his hairdresser and they said he’s off to Derby” type rumours that are springing up all over the place.

Obviously a player deciding to defect to the Sheep is never a good thing, I would be churlish to deny that I’d be pretty disappointed.  I would be disappointed if he disappears somewhere else full stop, but it would add insult to injury if he chose there.  Particularly as someone who paints himself (or allows the media to) as a supporter of Forest.  Now, I realise that the emotions that us irrational supporters have will be very different to those of a player – nay, an employee, but still, surely there must be other offers?

Being rational, the chances are Derbynil are offering better wages than us – on the face of it, it’s a bit of a no-brainer.  If a rival company to my current employer gave me a ring and offered me more money to do the same job, then I’d be a fool not to at least hear what they have to say.  Factor in the locality too, ie, the rival company are easily commutable from my current abode, and whatever loyalty I might feel for my current employers, I would certainly check out what’s on offer.

Also being rational, on his day Commons can be one of our better players – he’s capable of changing games with five minutes of brilliance, he has shown that he’s capable of stepping up to Championship level in the past – and indeed, has stood out against Premier League opponents in cup appearances (against Spurs most notably).  I would undoubtedly prefer us to be able to keep hold of him for next season, because I do see his value to the squad.

However, he’s not worth breaking the bank for – if he’s holding out for the kind of money that we can’t budget for or would cause dischord within the squad, then I’d be prepared to wave a regretful goodbye to him, because whilst he’s good, he is somewhat of a luxury player who blows hot and cold (cold too often), and I certainly don’t think him to be completely irreplaceable either.  Picking up the likes of McCleary has shown there is match-changing talent out there at a much better price.

Of course, if he defects then I reserve the right every Forest fan has to give him enormous amounts of abuse should he manage to be fit for any of the games between us.  One of the things that will stick in the mind will be that he’s not always found the grass greener upon moving – he joined us from the then relatively-lowly Stoke City on the quest for a ‘step up’, we of course were subsequently relegated to the third tier, whilst Stoke are on the verge of their first season in the Premier League for some years…

… so hopefully you’ve learned from this, Kristian, the grass isn’t always greener, young man.  Sign a new deal with us like a good lad!

Odds and sods..

I’m really enjoying this almost close season but we’re not involved in it, certainly from an on-the-field perspective, anyway!  Leeds booked their place at Wembley for a final date with either Doncaster or Southend tonight with (shock, horror!) another late goal at Carlisle this evening.  On balance, they deserved it I think.  Whilst Carlisle offered plenty at Elland Road, the Cumbrians were found lacking on their own turf and Leeds persevered to grab a well earned late winner – so unlucky Carlisle, I think I might nip down the bookies and have a bet on a late Leeds winner at Wembley.

The transfer rumours and nonsense continue to circle and we’ve, largely centred upon a certain Robert Earnshaw.  Did he have talks with us?  Did he feck off on holiday?  Was he really seen mowing his lawn in Bramcote?  The truth is, I haven’t a bleeding clue, and frankly I’ve given up trying to find out.  Trying to get the inside scoop on transfers only ever seems to lead to looking foolish, so I’ve opted to wait it out and just see what happens.  Smoulds has said he wants to move quickly, and when he’s said that in the past he generally hasn’t, so we’ll see!

Fans of Earnie’s former clubs I have spoken to seem to have mixed reviews, there are persistent suggestions of attitude issues, and a fondness for drink, which is consistent from numerous unconnected friends of mine who follow Derby, West Brom and Norwich.  Most agreed he’d bag goals at Championship level, and at least one Derby fan out there was man enough to admit he’d be gutted if he were sold to Forest as he could see him doing well here – so we shall see, as ever, the appraisal of football fans is nothing if not inconclusive.

The ‘will Commons go to Derby’ saga doesn’t seem any clearer either; whether he’s put his house on the market or not doesn’t really seem to swing the suggestion either way in my book – so again, I think I’ll just wait and see.  It is frustrating at this time of year, but I’ve learned from years past that so much shite gets touted across the internet (not least here!) that it’s best not to believe anything until it’s confirmed via official sources otherwise you’ll just end up with egg on your face!  It’ll probably take about a year to sell his house given market conditions, anyway!

I was thrilled that Paul Smith picked up the golden glove award though – he’s been an invaluable contributor to our results this season and comes in for an outrageous amount of stick from certain quarters; amusingly the very next announcement on the Official Site was that Smoulderwood is after a new goalkeeper.  Of course, it was merely comedic timing – I completely agree that, much as I rate Smith, we do need to have credible competition for him, and loaning out the youngsters to get them some experience is a sensible move.

Bunn from Northampton again seems to be the media’s keeper of choice for us to target – ably assisted by the Northampton Town PR machine desperately trying to bump up his value by revealing we’ve apparently bid a number of times for him in the past, but some way short of the staggering £1m valuation they seem to place upon him.  I rate Bunn, and would welcome his signing, but spending that much on a ‘keeper who is basically going to end up on the bench would seem somewhat fanciful.

A preseason friendly with Sunderland is a decent move, I think – a reunion with Roy Keane and Andy Reid as well as a decent standard of opponent to pit our new-look (hopefully!) squad against; given that they were promoted last season and managed to survive their first season back in the top flight, it should give us a good indication of our progress and certainly areas for improvement.  Whilst I despised him at his time of leaving, I do have many fond memories of Keane so it will be nice to see him back at the City Ground, and I’m sure I’ll muster a round of applause for Reidy too.

The latest rumour I’ve encountered (literally seconds ago) was that The Daily Mail are linking us to Sheffield United’s James Beattie.  With a supposed price tag of £4m!  Normally I’d write that off immediately as bollocks, however the Daily Mail, according to Football Transfer League are the most reliable newspaper source when it comes to Forest rumours (admittedly still with a hitrate of 2 out of 7 rumours correct, but still!).  Needless to say he’d be an excellent signing too.

Isn’t the summer break fraught with frustrations?!  I’m off back into semi-hibernation until something actually happens, I think!