Ipswich Town vs Forest preview..

I can’t decide whether it’s a really good time or a really bad time to be playing Roy Keane’s Ipswich.  Let’s go for optimism – because they’ve gotten off to a pretty poor start so far with just two draws from their opening six games (both earned at home), although let’s not get too cocky with our one win and three draws (all draws earned away).

We will still be without Majewski in central midfield which is a concern because Cohen and McKenna had off-days at the weekend and we missed the bit of composure and craft our little Polish wizard gives us.  However, the surprise inclusion of Lewis McGugan on the bench on saturday may give us that more creative option in the middle of the park should Billy opt to start with him.

Tys is reportedly still a doubt having been attending to the birth of the latest addition to his family – hopefully all is well in the Tyson household and of course we look forward to seeing him back soon.  Apparently Sheffield United fans were chanting “There’s only one Nathan Tyson” at the Derby fans on Saturday – priceless!

Certainly I expect to see Anderson retain his starting place after a scintillating performance at Hillsborough.  Whether Billy opts for Tys on the left (if available) or pushing Cohen out there with Lewis in the middle remains to be seen.  I expect the back four to remain unchanged from the weekend assuming Lynch came through his comeback okay.

As for Ipswich, it’s been a tough start for Roy Keane.  He handed debuts to Rosenior, Edwards and Leadbitter at the weekend’s defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough – and is likely to want to tinker with his defence to get the right combination.  This is where having our multi-faceted array of striking options makes life difficult for the former-Reds midfielder.

I’m not one for predictions but I’m cautiously optimistic that this is a good opportunity to notch our first away win – or at the very least maintain our unbeaten run on the road.  Billy will be canny enough to have worked his tactics out whilst Keane will still be in experimental mode trying to find the right formula.  Sod’s law he’ll go and do it against us, now (I knew that optimism wouldn’t last long!…)


A message to Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Councils..

A template for modern stadium design

I have rather quickly become disinterested with the story of Forest’s proposed ground move after it transpired that the lead exponents of the scheme – Nottingham City Council and Nottingham Forest – hadn’t bothered their arses to talk to the Nottinghamshire County Council.  The latter being the owners of the land they have their eye on.

Irrespective of what my own thoughts are on the proposed move, what becomes abundantly clear is the posturing between the City and County councils demonstrates a fundamental problem.

Are councils elected bodies who are supposed to represent what is best for their population?  Aren’t they supposed to establish what the population things and act accordingly?  So far all I can see is the City Council trying to move us so they can cash in on the prime West Bridgford land, and the County Council objecting because they’re Tories and the City Council are Labour.

Forest of course I wouldn’t expect to make any great effort to understand what the fans want, because their relationship with the fans is pretty non-existant.  They see this as an opportunity to get a nice shiny new ground with better facilities either for free or heavily subsidised.  I don’t think anyone would deny we could do with better facilities either at the City Ground or elsewhere.

If I were the FIFA panel selecting venues, Nottingham would be making a very bad impression on me given the representatives of the city itself can’t seem to talk to one another.  Come 2018, even if England are to get the tournament to host, I would be surprised if they bother to select us at all.

Which means that the impossibility of making the City Ground a FIFA compliant venue (according to Forest’s ‘extensive study’) becomes largely an irrelevance, and we can treat that as a viable option to meet our future needs rather than outlandish plans to move wholesale to a new venue when I reckon the majority of fans would see it as unnecessary and unwanted.

But yes, Councils, your job is to do what is right for the people of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.  So why not concentrate on that instead of your own agendas and your petty squabbles with one another?  It’s no wonder people feel so alienated from local politics.

Another bloody deflected goal! But a good point..

Wes: A solid performance blotted by an unlucky deflection

Wes: A solid performance blotted by an unlucky deflection

Sheffield Wednesday – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

I like going to Sheffield Wednesday.  Hillsborough is a proper ground, none of this soulless flatpackery here, four sweeping stands surround the pitch in a way that football grounds should.  Of course, accessing the away end is via Leppings Lane – possibly the most ominous of addresses in world football – which always makes pause and take stock of things.

One thing I didn’t like about it was the seeming lack of internet network coverage on my mobile phone – so no live tweeting, no score checking (and no half time scores from our hosts) meant that perhaps I gave our game more of my attention than I usually do.  So that is probably a good thing!  Forest started with a surprising line-up:

Gunter   Morgan    Chambers    Lynch
Garner   McKenna   Cohen   Anderson
McGoldrick    Blackstock
Subs: Smith, Wilson, Moussi, McGugan, McCleary, Earnshaw, Adebola

So it turns out that Lynch is fit, as is McGugan apparently – as well as Wilson who we expected!  Tyson missed out due to becoming a father last night (congratulations, Nathan!) and Majewski was unavailable ostensibly due to an injury in training.  There’s a few rumours doing the rounds on this, but I’m not about to spread them here.

It was a bit of a dream start for the Reds – right from the off we were at our opponents, Anderson burst forward after Blackstock had found him with a decent pass, he looked to have done everything right to find Garner, who was surely just about to celebrate only to see Lee Grant pull off an impressive save.

There wasn’t long to wait for the celebrations, though – again Anderson the provider, crossing in this time to Dexter Blackstock who evaded the offside trap with a cleverly timed run in order to meet the cross with his head to put the ball in the net with the Wednesday defence static and looking for an offside decision (which, in fairness, I have no way of knowing from where I was sitting!).

Tudgay had a half-chance-shot-type-thing which looped up and almost over Lee Camp, who was alert enough to palm it over for a corner.  Aside from a lot of lobbed balls forward the Owls didn’t really threaten that much – and Forest should really really have capitalised.  Blackstock again found Anderson who rushed forward again, eventually pulling the ball back to Dexter who somehow contrived to miss the target when a goal looked certain.

Wes and Chambers were looking solid in defence, particularly the former who was characteristically blocking and tackling everything that moved – unfortunately that included a shot from Tudgay which was powerful but straight at Camp until it took a weighty deflection off Wes to bounce into the net – bloody deflected goals!  The Owls had their tails up now, and Jermaine Johnson’s poor finishing ensured we went into the half time break still level.

Mostly I was pleased at half time – things that irked were how deep we had started to sit which practically invited the equaliser, and I don’t like to see us time-wasting – Lee Camp was perhaps the most obvious culprit of this, but time-wasting in the middle of the first half?  What’s all that about?  Also the referee showed early signs of what an idiot he was – increasingly the second half would be basically him whistling mostly for no good reason.

With this in mind, the booked Joe Garner was withdrawn at half time through fear of (a) him starting a scrap with anybody near him or (b) the referee deciding he had and booking him anyway.  Garath McCleary replaced him which was seen as a positive move by most around me – a bit of pace and attack-mindedness could be just what the game ordered.

The second half was a much scrappier affair.  Wednesday knocked the ball around well in midfield but tended to go for chipped lobs over the top in order to start their attacks.  Forest for their part looked like they’d relaxed a bit too much on their break and had forgotten how to trap, control or pass a ball.  Cohen and McKenna in particular were particularly poor with the ball.

Anderson continued to be our most dangerous outlet, bursting down the left and crossing dangerously – but alas, no Forest players could quite get on the end of it.  Shortly after this more good work from the young winger saw the ball end up with Blackstock who couldn’t quite get his shot on target.  At the other end Wes put in a great interception to stop Buxton having a shot.

What should have been Anderson’s crowning glory in a good game for the Reds became Lee Grant’s.  He unleashed an excellent dipping shot from around twenty yards, but the Owls ‘keeper was equal to the challenge and tipped it over.  In the meantime Adebola had come on for McGoldrick and Lewis for Blackstock.  Lewis sporting a transparent ‘Phantom of the Opera’ style mask.

The last attacking action for the Reds was via Gunter bursting down the right with impressive athleticism given the lateness of the game – he took it to the goal line and put a powerful ball into the near post where Adebola was lurking, but Lee Grant did very well to gather it and keep it safe.  The final dangerous chance would be for the home side, though.

A freekick was given by the referee – who really was an over-fussy arsehole – on the very edge of the D, despite tension in the stands it was spannered well over by Darren Potter.  Still, a good point against a decent side – and the lads were rightly applauded off the pitch warmly by the large Forest away following.

Whilst I think we had the best chances, a draw is a fair result on balance of play.  The home side had a lot of possession and knocked it around nicely in midfield (which is something we really struggled with).  Wes, Anderson and Blackstock all played very well today.  As noted above, Cohen and McKenna both had off-days which would explain our problems in midfield!

Sheffield Wednesday vs. Forest preview..

It seems like so long since we’ve played a game, given the contemplation of the football against Derby was largely overshadowed by the over-reaction to the afters it seems even longer – so tomorrow’s trip up to Sheffield can’t come soon enough!  I actually quite like Sheffield Wednesday mainly because of Brian Laws being there, and perhaps because I don’t like Sheffield United very much!

We have some good news on the injury front – after a couple of friendly appearances Kelvin Wilson is likely to make the squad – although given the fact he’s not a left back, it’s limitedly good news.  Joel Lynch and Moussi are unlikely to feature – so I would hazard a guess that Cohen will remain at left back with Chambers and Wes in central defence, Gunts at right back and Kelv on the bench, presuming Gunter hasn’t picked up a knock during international duty.

In midfield Paul McKenna will be available despite picking up what looked like a serious ankle knock against Derby after a challenge with Paul Dickov, so I would expect him to partner Majewski in midfield, then it’s anyone’s guess what Billy decides to do on the wing or up front.  So Lynch and Moussi are now our short-term injury concerns, with Bennett and Perch the long term casualties.

The Owls are without Francis Jeffers who is serving a suspension, and probably will also be missing Leon Clarke who is recovering from a hamstring injury – so former-Ram Marcus Tudgay and current-Ram Luke Varney are likely to be Brian Laws’ front pairing of choice.

Wednesday have had a marginally better start to the season than we have – two wins, two draws and one defeat play our one win, two draws and two defeats.  A win for us would neatly even the scores!  Wednesday are unbeaten at home this season, we are unbeaten away – so maybe the smart money would be on a draw?  You would think so, but the last time we drew at Hillsborough against the Owls was in the late 1960s!

A good away following will hopefully spur the Reds on to victory.

A golden goose (at Gamston) or a white elephant?

An artists impression of the proposed Forest-drome..

An artists impression of the proposed Forest-drome..

It had all gone quiet on the new ground front.  The ‘chairman’s message’ at the start of the season skirted around the subject whilst offering the tantalising possibility of redeveloping the City Ground.  That seems to have become redundant in the latest round of PR from the club though, who have hop-skipped-and-jumped from Clifton to Holme Pierrepont and now to Gamston in terms of relocating of Forest as part of England’s 2018 World Cup bid.

Of course, anything like this happening is subject to quite a few ifs and buts.  If Nottingham is successful in beating competition from our fellow East Midland cities, and of course if England are ultimately successful with their bid – and I have no real idea about the likelihood of either of these things.  My own regional biasedness would naturally rank us ahead of Derby and Leicester – but I’m not a FIFA or FA adjudicator and perhaps they might have less parochial selection criteria!

A lot of objections doing the rounds are the usual suspects – one I can empathise with.  For one, we don’t need a bigger ground right now.  This new ground would be a 45,000 all seater which could be reduced back down to 38,000 afterwards.  Of course, no actual designs are forthcoming, but the ulterior motive of creating a veritable ‘Wembley for Women’ is a bit of a PR faux pas in a game which is still really rather masculinised.  Whilst it doesn’t really bother me, a lot of people I have spoken to really have strong feelings about this more than anything else.

Geographically Gamston isn’t all that far from where we are currently – so it wouldn’t be that much of an upheaval in terms of prematch rituals – although it would be a bit of a trek from the many drinkeries around the City Ground.  The FIFA and FA parties are being taken around the place soon – obviously the new ground is just a small part of a bid which needs to include facilities for visiting teams as well as ‘fan parks’ around the region.

Whilst I am supportive of Nottingham hosting World Cup games in 2018 – and why wouldn’t I be? – I still find myself unconvinced by the need for a new stadium.  Emotionally I am completely opposed to it, although I do recognise even the newer stands at the City Ground are looking tired – without even getting into the mess that is the Main Stand.  Rather than being eager about the prospect I suppose I find myself more resigned to it – because whilst our pitch may be a great surface, the rest of our facilities lag significantly behind our rivals.

I’ve envisaged two scenarios that might see us get to stay – either Nottingham loses out to a rival city as a host, or England fails with the overall 2018 bid.  Or possibly Notts County – with their new found fortune and fame – could step in and move into a new purpose-built megadrome to house their multitude of ageing megastars.  Forest could stay at the City Ground and redevelop to suit our own needs rather than those of FIFA or the FA.  Hmm, maybe not!

Forest to defend predictable FA knee-jerk..

The FA have charged both Forest and Derby with failing to control their players – which is probably a reasonable charge really considering the distasteful scenes after Forest’s 3-2 win over the Rams at the weekend.  However, they have also decided to single out Nathan Tyson as well – the good news is that Forest are planning to vigourously defend this with evidence, according to Mark Arthur.

The same Mark Arthur who the feckless Derby PR machine claimed had apologised for the incident.

There are no specific charges levelled at Leacock or Teale who actually started the whole commotion, nor for McEvelly who was the only player really obviously throwing punches during the melee.  So disappointingly given the wealth of evidence available – but predictably – the FA have indeed gone for the simple option of being guided by the media portrayal of the incidents rather than what actually happened.

I know that Forest have been working hard behind the scenes to ascertain the running order of events – with some help from certain supporters too – and will have collated a compelling body of evidence to show that what Tyson did was at worst naive, but certainly not inciteful until the intervention of the Derby substitutes.  Ultimately, it’s a shame that the actions of a few embittered Rams staff have escalated this whole situation, but I’m glad that Forest are standing their ground and defending their man.

We’ve actually been given until 18th September to answer the charges, but Forest have immediately said they will indeed be contesting – whether they are contesting all charges or just those levelled at Tyson is unclear.  Certainly a charge for Tyson should mean a charge for Leacock, Teale and McEvelly as well – and it should also open up the opportunity for Forest to perhaps point at some of the misdemeanours of the media darling that is Robbie Savage too.

Either way, it would have been better if the Derby players could have shown a little dignity in defeat and none of it would ever have happened.  Que sera sera.  Credit for the photoshoppery must go to a chap called Alvar Hanso, this and other works of excellence can be found here.

Transfer window update…











Arron Davies has gone on loan to Brighton ’til January.

Sorry – couldn’t resist!  On a sensible note though, despite the occasional doom-sayers and grumbleweeds, I don’t think we can really complain too much – we made some excellent signings this summer – and whilst we’d all like to have seen a defender or two come in, there is still the option of bringing in people on loan to cover some positions until January.

I lost track of the outlandish names being touted with joining us – Michael Dawson and Gareth Bale haven’t moved elsewhere, Ibrahima Sonko went to Hull, and well, who else were we linked with?  None of them turned up anyway!

Good luck to Davies at Brighton – he renews his working with Russell Slade, who of course presided over his sale to Forest after that play off game which sadly remains the midfielder’s most impactful day’s work at the City Ground.  He showed some promise preseason and in the cup games, but we do have a lot of competition in midfield so a loan move probably makes sense.