Home truths?

Nottingham Forest – 0
Crystal Palace – 2

I’ve been deliberately hanging fire on a match report to give my mind a chance to try to organise thoughts and apply a little perspective; I’m not sure that it’s really helped – but I do think that today I had somewhat of an epiphany; and to be honest, the match today was – whilst the catalyst – fairly mundane background noise as these thoughts took shape.  I’m not even sure it is a match report – if it was, and was somehow divorced from emotion, it would document an at times decent Forest performance against a cynical Palace side who took two rare chances exceptionally well.

I could rant and rave about the shameful behaviour of Warnock’s team ’til the cows come home, but there’s little merit in that – anybody who saw his Sheffield United team play will remember a group of talented players, playing largely decent football – and augmenting it with cheating, diving, kicking the ball away, mouthing off at the referee.  That’s pretty much the same here.  The real villain of the piece is not Warnock, though, it was the referee for blindly falling for nearly every single bloody obvious trick that was being played on him.

In a nutshell though, I don’t think we can blame the result on that.  Not really.  We were undone by a miskicked freekick that we didn’t clear, that was struck tremendously well to get the opening goal, and by a goalkeeping error where Smith came rushing out of his box, only to hesitate and get stranded – even then it was a bloody good finish by Kuqi to double the visitors lead.  We made some chances too, Bennett was on the end of no fewer than three corners without converting, McCleary made some good opportunities, Speroni (the cheating bastard) had a few saves to make.

I thought that Tyson had another solid game, with little sympathy from the referee as the Palace defenders challenged him in the air leading with a forearm smash or an elbow to his head.  I thought that McCleary provided some bright sparks, and Cohen worked tirelessly hard.  I actually thought, if you took the goals out of the game (and whilst both well taken, the opportunities leading to them were preventable), I think most of us would have been happy with the performance.

To those fans shouting abuse at Paul Smith; you really are clueless idiots.  Sure, it was a bad decision for him to rush out, it undoubtedly cost us a goal – it didn’t change the outcome of the game though, as if we were still playing now we wouldn’t have scored yet!  He’s not without faults, but along with Cohen he’s been probably our most consistent performer this season – he’s made countless last-gap saves to prevent defeats, and basically, I think we’re lucky to have him.  Because as well as all this, he’s young enough to develop the weaker elements of his game.

The ‘realisation’ I think, and it’s not really a new one, is that our defence is nowhere near good enough.  ‘Casual’ Kelv made a few appearances today and nearly got us in trouble, the previous underhit backpasses and defensive lapses could easily explain why Smith might have elected to make his mad dash out towards the end to try to clear the danger.  Wilson is probably the strongest candidate in our back four to make the step up, and he can be be found wanting at times.  I do think that in our ranks we have the makings of a decent midfield and attack, but in our manager we don’t have the tactics to best utilise them.

I had really wanted to promise myself that I wouldn’t leap on an anti-Smoulderwood tip too quickly; but it would appear he doesn’t learn.  Doesn’t see what seems so obvious.  Whilst I’m aware that it’s very easy to criticise from the sidelines, is it really that hard to see that we do better with men on the wings?  That our strikers operate better with a partner than without?  That James Perch has, every time he’s played there, proven a much more effective fullback than Chambers (so that’s one he got right today!).  Unfortunately I struggle to see where improvement will come under him.

The other factor is I can’t imagine who would want to come and replace him; rumours of Allardyce I am certain are rubbish, people talk of Curbishley which seems rather fanciful – and of course, there will be the inevitable clamour for Forest to employ the services of Pearce or Clough Jnr purely on the basis of the name.  Both people, I imagine, would think more than twice before accepting the poisoned chalice.  But I suppose you can’t stay your hand purely because a replacement doesn’t spring to mind either.  Can you?

It is still early days, but after ten league games there are five points between us and safety.  There has to be that natural tipping point where things become intolerable, because frankly a return to League One will be as good as a death sentence for any outlandish hopes of Forest establishing themselves at this level; let alone the top flight – fans, so buoyed with optimism after the unexpected promotion – have hit reality with a bump, and the City Ground has become a rather unpleasant place to visit.  Not least due to the fickle and delusional morons I referred to earlier in the post.

A depressing day.  Having said that, to bring things properly into perspective I noticed a supporter in the Lower Trent End who appeared to be being treated for some kind of cardiac problem, before being taken in an Ambulance.  The fact that I noticed the siren blaring as they were taken to hospital gives me hope that the paramedics were able to stablise them, and I truly hope that the fan is undergoing a full recovery – my sincere best wishes to them, and family or friends etc.  There is more to life than football, after all, so naturally I’m sure all Reds fans join me in wishing a speedy recovery to the person in question.

Same old Warnock, always cheating

It’s half time, we are one down due to an excellent strike by Ifill after a Watson-shanked freekick. What I’ll remember the half for is yet another sub standard refereeing show. And an unwelcome reminder of what a cheating bastard Warnock is.

We’ve had diving, playacting and bookings to Tyson and Thornhill thanks to Palace players playacting. We’ve also had two good penalty claims rejected. Colin Wanker, he most certainly remains.

For the most part Forest have played well, but the referee is Warnock’s bitch so I just can’t see us turning around our poor run of results today; but would be delighted to stick one over that cheating bastard. Respect for referees? Don’t make me laugh.