Update: bugger all is happening!

As we wait for the ‘done deals’ of a few weeks ago to be announced, and try to overcome the disappointment/disgust of England’s showing in the World Cup (well, those of us who follow England of course – I imagine a fair few of you had a good laugh at that!) it’s getting really rather close to the start of the season.  Now I have my season ticket in my possession I’m getting quite excited, but also frustrated of course with the lack of news.

There is, as ever, lots of names being linked to Forest – in the past I’d often get swept up in the excitement of a potential new signing and write about them, I’ve become a bit more cynical now and wait for something approximating confirmation.  But goddamn it leaves me sitting on my hands somewhat as I start thinking more and more about the forthcoming season for the Reds.

Elsewhere there’s been interest – Nigel Pearson has left Leicester City to take the reigns at completely-skint Hull City, which begs the question of the financial situation at the Foxes after such an impressive season last year.  Other neighbours Derby have had Kris Commons in training for the last few weeks to get him fighting fit and at fighting weight presumably – whereas we’ve announced a clearance sale in the BC Stand concourse on 3rd July.

The game against Derby after Christmas has been moved by a day, which seems to have riled many but suits me – it gives us longer to prepare after a trip to Middlesbrough which is no bad thing, in my opinion.  I guess it’s easy to be selfish when I generally book time off between Christmas and New Year so don’t have work considerations to worry about, which will probably affect many fans given the bank holiday situation this Christmas.

Probably the only interesting player rumour I’ve picked up on that’s new news links us to Motherwell’s Mark Reynolds – a young centre back who has apparently previously attracted the interest of Newcastle and Glasgow Rangers.  Then again, it seems to me that Craig Brown is simply trying to talk him up as he needs to sell him to be able to strengthen his squad, he says himself Forest have shown no interest.  That said, if he’s good, then why not?

Perhaps the most significant snippet in that piece was that Billy is due back from his holiday imminently which hopefully will see a bit more traction reached with whatever negotiations are occurring at the City Ground (surely there must be some, mustn’t there?).  Has anybody else heard any outlandish or realistic rumours?  Have you all renewed your season tickets?  Do you have anything more interesting than this article to say? (You must have!!).

Toothless Lions coming home early..

Pampered lions have no fight..

I said before the World Cup commenced that I couldn’t get in to watching England like I do with Forest.  If one ever needed justification for it, the group of individuals (note the lack of using the word ‘team’) provided it with another abject showing, and a deserved trouncing at the hands of Germany.

It’s true that the refereeing team made an utter howler in denying England an equaliser when Lampards shot clearly crossed the line, it’s also true that Lampard later when on to hit the bar from a freekick that could have made it oh-so-different, but well, these things didn’t happen – and ultimately Germany profited from two frankly awful performances in defence from Matthew Upson and John Terry.

And that’s what pissed me off most – not to take anything away from Germany, they weren’t that good – but we seemed to make it so easy for them to break and hit us on the counter-attack with some awful positional play from our defenders, and a complete absence of covering.  I really hope that nobody turns up to see them return from South Africa, that they arrive to an abandoned terminal with a few photographers.

Watching Argentina vs Mexico as I type, I am reasonably sure that either of these sides would make mincemeat out of us in the next round anyway – indeed, I think the Germans might struggle against them too.  They too looked ropey in defence when pressed (not that it happened much), and will meet a more solid defence against either of the South American countries (Argentina 2-0 up as I write).

Arguments about goal-line technology (which I think should exist, indeed, all events should be subject to video replays – possibly incorporating a tennis style appeal system) are rendered fairly pointless by what followed, and opens up the massive can of worms that is the state of English football and what needs to be put right if we want to be competitive – rather than just announcing we are contenders and hoping for the best.

That Rooney couldn’t understand why fans were booing after the Algeria game sums it all up for me – these players are so many million miles away from reality that they can’t comprehend what an honour playing for England should be to them.  And I can’t really find myself supporting them in these circumstances, it’s going to be an over-used phrase I feel but really they are such primadonnas it’s untrue.

As for Capello, when the chips were down and we needed goals, he chucked on Heskey and Wright-Phillips – two of the most ineffective players we’re seen in previous games, two players who shouldn’t have been in South Africa – basically, what the fuck?  Why not chuck on Crouch whose goals went some way to getting us in to the World Cup?  Why persist with a clearly unfit Rooney?  Why Upson and Carragher over Dawson?  Just why?

Five million quid a year for that – awful decisions, no cohesion in his squad, bust-ups with the players and numerous bruises for poor Psycho who had to ensure a series of elbows from him when he was getting worked up.  Five million pounds.  And he’s signed a new contract.  Why the fuck are we paying someone that much to manage the national team?

Our national game requires a dramatic overhaul, from top to bottom, if we are to ever ascend to the levels that our media like to tell us we might just reach one day.  Starting at the fusty jobs-for-the-boys FA, and that, my friends, is why such things will never happen and we will continue to spiral into this malaise of perceived under-achievement in international tournaments.

For what it’s worth, I for one wish Germany well in the tournament – a young side who do play as a team – as I said above, not that good just yet despite our efforts to make them look so, but I feel more affinity for them than their likely next opponents.  As for our self-styled Golden Generation, what to do with them?  Well, there’s a plethora of ‘Cash for Gold’ retailers at the moment – let’s cash the useless bastards in and start again!

Sepp Blatter can piss off as well while we’re at it – whilst it might not have made any ultimate difference, you have to say we’d have had a better chance at 2-2 in that game!

Capello, here is the answer to your dilemma..

Stand down from your team talk duties and get a certain somebody to fill in…

…. oh, and please dear God put Joe Cole on in place of Wright-Phillips, don’t play Carragher any more, get Heskey off the pitch and give Rooney an almighty kick up the arse.


A reunion with Burnley boss Laws, and a retrospective..

I’m sure you’ve picked up the fixtures we have to look forward to next season.  Because of the arseishness of the footballing authorities I’m not allowed to post a list of fixtures and dates (due to copyright), but you can see them on the official site easily enough by clicking here.  Anyway, our first game being a trip to Burnley has been picked up by lots of Reds related news articles because it reunites us with former player Brian Laws, their manager.

It’s fairly unusual for me to do this, but Lawsy was one of my favourite players in my formative years as a Forest fan so it got me thinking about his time here – so why not share some of it?  Were it not for Steve Hodge and, of course, the other fullback of that era – Stuart Pearce – I think Brian Laws would have undoubtedly been my favourite Forest player in an era when there were plenty of viable candidates for a young impressionable fan to pick.

Signed by Brian Clough in 1988 from Middlesbrough for £120k, he appeared in three League Cup finals (winning two) and was a losing finalist in the FA Cup.  Famously Clough’s first words to him were “I’ve never seen you play, son, I’m going on the recommendation of Ronnie Fenton.  So if you’re crap, Ronnie signed you.  If you’re good, I signed you.”

Laws was a solid right back but with the occasional eye for getting forward and scoring.  I liked his no-nonsense approach to defending and was gutted when in early nineties he was starting to get regularly displaced by Gary Charles.  It was 1993 that Laws left us on a free transfer to become a player-manager at Grimsby (famously assaulting their best player in ages with a plate of chicken).

Perhaps the best remembered for a couple of interplays with Liverpool striker John Aldridge.  In the distressing aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster the Reds faced the Merseyside club in a rearranged game at Old Trafford, in this match Laws scored an own goal after which John Aldridge celebrated by ruffling the devastated Forest defenders hair whilst laughing.  He later apologised for this, and so the world moves on.

However, it turns out that Aldridge couldn’t contain his inner twattishness – in the very same game before which he’d taken the time to apologise to Laws – a late penalty was awarded when Brian Laws brought down the striker.  I imagine you can guess what he did – he repeated the distasteful act yet again.  To Lawsy’s credit (or perhaps not) he didn’t smack the unsporting bastard round the chops (advice Stuart Pearce offers him in his autobiography!).

So there you go, loosely topical reminiscing inspired by our first game – a trip to Turf Moor to face Brian Laws’ Burnley side – a club he also represented as a player before his Forest days.  I’ve never yet been wholly convinced by him as a manager – whilst I wish him well wherever he goes I’ve never quite been able to convince myself that I’d like to see him as Forest’s manager in the future.  Maybe I want to remember the good times as a player.

I’ll end with an amusing video of which he’s latterly become almost as well-known for amongst younger generations of fans than his time as a player…

Cowardly lions really must win, now!

Cowardly lions need to stop moaning, and start playing

England’s start to the World Cup continues to falter. With all due respect to Algeria, we should be looking to beat them – and we didn’t, we didn’t even score – and didn’t really deserve to, to be honest. Another very frustratingly disjointed and unproductive performance, and tantrums from the ‘great English hope’ Rooney after the fans showed their disapproval.

Not too good is it?  I know a few people who flew out for the game, for a very fleeting visit to South Africa.  It cost them a lot of money, and whilst any football fan knows there’s no guarantee of a result no matter what lengths you go to to follow them, they do have a right to see something a little more effective than that was from the supposed cream of the crop for English football.

Of course, that can all be forgotten if England can beat Slovenia on Wednesday.  Beating them would leave us with five points, meaning we’d be above Slovenia who’d be on four, and of course above Algeria who can only achieve a maximum of four points should they beat the USA.  So we’d be through to the knock-out stage of the tournament.  If we win and better USA’s scoreline against Algeria then we top the group.

So all’s not lost, and really there’s no need for Shrek to be throwing his toys out the pram – I can understand his frustration though, he’s a passionate player and it must be galling for him too.  At least I hope it is, you can never be too sure – these lads have been so far removed from any tangible reality that the likes of us understand you can never be too sure.

Capello has a few things to consider – I think Carragher is now suspended which sorts out the first problem.  My god he’s awful, he’s had a bad season in a club that has struggled (by its’ own standards).  James didn’t have too much to do, but that he did he did well I thought – so a good call for nets.  Midfield is the problem, neither Gerrard nor Lampard recreate their talismanic domestic form in an England shirt, and Wright-Phillips is – frankly – bloody awful.

Up front Rooney is – despite struggling to get involved in games – a must pick for me, but this flimsy suggestion that Heskey + Rooney = Goals is clearly a fallacy.  I admire Heskey’s willingness, his workrate – he was integral to the one goal we have scored in the tournament, but well, all that doesn’t make up for what he lacks.  I think Crouch can cause as many problems as him and more, and is more likely to score – I’d like to see him more involved than being a late sub.

These of course are dilemmas for the gaffer – also, in a side with wingers who struggle for end product (Wright-Phillips and Lennon, plus the wingers-that-aren’t-really-wingers like Gerrard), and nobody with a right foot – why on Earth he hasn’t given Joe Cole a run I’ll never know.  He’s right-footed, but plays often on the left – and has a great understanding already with our left back.  It’s a no-brainer isn’t it?

Maybe not – either way, naturally I’ll be tuning in at 3pm on Wednesday for our clash with Slovenia and hope that things can click enough to at least get the win we need to get in to the next stage of the tournament.  Whether Fabio is thinking along similar lines to me or not doesn’t matter – I’d be more than happy for a scrappy 1-0 thanks to an excellent Wright-Phillips cross bouncing in from Heskey’s arse!

One exciting fixture… and one less so..

Let’s start with the less auspicious one, we shall be starting our Carling Cup campaign against Bradford City – away at Valley Parade (or some sponsored name involving windows that I forget, officially speaking).  It will take place in the second week of August, and you may have a sense of deja vu as we played them at the City Ground in the same stage of the tournament last season, running out 3-0 winners on that occasion.

Still, there is some degree of blessing – for reasons that defy logic we’re in the north section at this stage, whilst Notts are in the south section.  As a result they have a trip to Plymouth ‘GREEEEEN ARMY!’ Argyle to ‘look forward’ to.  Which is quite a trek!  So our relatively quick trip up to West Yorkshire isn’t really so much of a trial compared to that, uninspiring though it might be.  That said, aside from the three sides that tumbled from the top flight last season, we are the highest placed league finishers in the hat at this stage!  We rock!

Anyway, on to the more exciting fixture.  In a departure from last season’s rather damp squib of friendly opponents the Reds have secured a home friendly against Lyon.  Whom I’ve seen the Reds play before what seems like long ago in the UEFA Cup when Frank Clark was in charge.  This game will take place on Wednesday 28th July and for once I’m really looking forward to a preseason friendly at the City Ground rather than just going through habit/being starved of football.

They finished second in the top French division last season, and were Champions League semi-finalists – and that might have been seen as an underachievement certainly domestically, in the last decade or so they’ve won their league more often than they haven’t.  This is a great coup for the Reds and hopefully they’ll have some new signings to run out against the French side – it might also provide an opportunity to unveil the as yet mysterious new kit.

In other news, those of you (like me) who’ve yet to renew your season ticket – it is worth doing so before 22nd June when the new government will unveil their emergency budget.  Whilst it’s not for definite, there’s a distinct possibility they might increase the rate of VAT from 17.5% and thus Forest might well choose to pass on that change in terms of your price.  Admittedly it’s unlikely to be much more than 20% which would equate to £10-20 depending on your renewal rate – but every little helps!

Shorey, Shorey.. Hallelujah?

In between the buzzing of the vuvuzelas there are increasingly insistent whisperings that the Reds might just be close to sealing a deal for Villa fullback Nicky Shorey.  Of course, we know all about him from his loan spell with us – and how tits up our league form went once that loan expired.  Figures ranging from £1.5-3m are being bandied about, which would sound about right given he has a year to go on his contract at Villa.

After his spell with us he went on to enjoy a loan spell with Fulham, although with the return to fitness of their first choice leftback had limited opportunities – no such dilemma at the City Ground, where our only recognised left back is a chap who’s been out injured for a year and a half (oh, and Joel Lynch too – the so oft forgotten man).  Whether the Reds can fit Shorey into their wage structure remains to be seen.

The usual whisperings about us trying to prize the Championship top scorer Peter Whittingham away from Cardiff are still ongoing, although has quietened over our designs on their neighbour’s Swansea’s midfielder Darren Pratley – with Charlton’s Bailey touted as a potential secondary target.  Swindon’s Austin has been mentioned, as has St Ledger from Preston – basically, I think – despite the distraction of the World Cup – we’re rapidly approaching the ‘name anyone and one will stick’ stage.

With the season ticket renewal deadline looming I’d be very surprised if Forest weren’t attempting to get something signed and sealed though – Shorey would be an ideal candidate to offer that ‘statement of intent’ so sought after to tip those waverers into the renewal camp.  Less prominent whispers on the blog Facebook page suggested young defender Dawson from Rochdale, and winger Jimmy Kebe from Reading.

As ever with such rumours, take ’em with a pinch of salt – but I would be exceedingly pleased if we did manage to lure Nicky Shorey down to the Championship to try to boost our promotion credentials.  Anybody heard any exciting our outlandish rumours I’ve not yet covered?  Who do you think the Reds should be looking to bring in to strengthen our squad?

Come dine with… Lee Camp!

Campy shows Rob Green how it's done...

If Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me programme isn’t one of your usual guilty pleasures, you might not have spotted the Footballer-themed episode recently (and if you didn’t, you should check it out as it was funny as hell) featuring Neil Ruddock, John Fashanu, Frank Worthington and former Red (lest we forget) Carlton Palmer.  Anyway, it did have me idly pondering what the Forest squad might concoct under similar circumstances… and for one of our number, at least, I didn’t have to wonder for long.

Because I picked up an email from a charity for whom our very own Lee Camp had submitted a recipe to, as part of a fundaiser for the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK.  And if you were to ‘Come Dine With..’ the Forest goalkeeper, you would be treated to a delicious sounding Crispy Teriyaki Salmon.  To view the recipe on the Woman and Home website, then please click here – and you’ll be on your way to some delicious Japanese food in no time courtesy of our own number one!

So why not invite a few friends over and host a ‘World Cup Feast’ and raise some money for this fantastic cause?  As well as Lee Camp’s contribution many other footballers, cricketers, celebrities and chefs have shared a recipe on the same website – so there’s bound to be plenty there to tickle the most demanding of tastebuds.  Or failing that, you could of course simply donate online direct to the charity, although surely the image below must be making you feel hungry?

What will you remember most about South Africa 2010?

The third day of the World Cup isn’t yet over, but I can probably conclusively answer, it’ll be the constant drone of these badboys.

Particularly during ITV’s coverage the noise like a million swarms of angry wasps is really rather prevalent.  The Vuvuzela has probably been cause of as many headlines as any on-the-pitch action, originally a tin instrument in Mexico it was popularised in plastic form in South Africa in the 1990s.  So whilst they annoy me intensely, I do have some grudging acceptance that they’re part and parcel of our hosts way of watching the game.

Many broadcasters tried to get them banned for the World Cup due to making it difficult to hear their commentators (a blessing, if you’re watching ITV coverage I suppose!), but without success.  The authorities have only expressed an interest in banning them if they find themselves on the playing surface – meanwhile players have to tolerate them not only during the games, but in to the night when partying fans continue with the soundtrack to this tournament.

It does make a nice difference to the usual discussion point during every international tournament I can remember – and that’s usually some controversy surrounding the design of the football being used for the games.  Whilst I can just about tolerate feeling like a tinnitus sufferer during the World Cup, I really do hope that none of these accursed instruments make their way to the City Ground next season!

With a bit of luck the football will start doing the talking more and more – the Germans have just put in an impressive first half against Australia, which is a relief for me as it seems to me so far that every match I’ve managed to see has been dull as hell!

Green fingers?

I must admit that the discussions around our gathering before England took on USA were largely centred around the goalkeeping selection.  Our straw poll seemed to favour David James as the best option, with Joe Hart second and Robert Green – who’s had a not particularly impressive season with West Ham – a fairly distant third.

But still, Mr Capello knows his onions, we reasoned – and well, were soon distracted from an excellent start from England where the oft-maligned Emile Heskey teed up captain Gerrard to finish with aplomb to give the Three Lions an early lead.  Maybe too early, maybe we relaxed – certainly the fatal shot wasn’t the first hopeful pot-shot from range by the Americans.

That said, a draw probably isn’t such a bad result – having suffered Algeria and Slovenia fight out a spectacularly dull game in which the Slovenians managed to profit from another goalkeeping blunder to give them a first every win in a major tournament.  That puts them top of the group, and frankly, if England can’t register points against either of these two teams, then there’s something fairly seriously wrong.

Certainly Green will need the support of his colleagues, who’ve all said the right things after the game.  Let’s face it, all players make arse-ups of things – unfortunately for the goalkeepers, their cock-ups generally end up as goals.  Whether the mistake is sufficient for Capello to replace his ‘keeper remains to be seen- but certainly the start of our World Cup hasn’t exactly gone according to plan.

Of course – perhaps a brief reminder that we’re not invincible might be welcome.  Robert Green’s mistake doesn’t excuse the distinct lack of decent chances we created in the game, it doesn’t make up for the lack of ideas – it doesn’t hide the fact that we really need to see more from Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard as key senior players.  Perhaps this could provide the wake-up call they needed.

Oh, and aren’t those vuvuzela horns the singularly most irritating contraptions we’ve seen in a while?  I really hope that we don’t see them starting to infiltrate our own league games!