Bang in the cup sandwiched with whimpers in the league..

McClaren: A lot to do!

Millwall – 2
Nottingham Forest – 0 

If ever there was a demonstration of why the Reds have been so keen to add attacking threats to their ranks, this was it.  A lifeless and sluggish Forest side were outpaced, outfought, out-thought and out-scored by a lively Millwall side who – frankly – probably feel they should’ve won by a more comfortable margin.

McClaren went for changes after the midweek Carling Cup game, unsurprisingly restoring internationals Lee Camp and Chris Gunter to the side at the expense of Paul Smith and Brendan Moloney.  He played Boateng in midfield rather than Majewski, and the injured Paul Anderson was replaced with Joe Garner.  Two up front, with a narrow midfield diamond behind:

Gunter   Morgan    Chambers   Cohen
Greening   Reid
Findley   Garner

Findley aside, there’s not a lot of pace in there for getting forward (with the possible exception of Gunts).  It was the home side that started on top, and remained there pretty much throughout – an early penalty appeal was ignored by the referee, moments later they were appealing again when Cohen won the ball from James Henry.

It didn’t take long to get the lead for the Lions though, a corner to the near post ended up being flicked up and over Camp into the goal.  Henderson was credited but his muted celebrations would suggest own goal to me, really difficult to see who go t the final touch on it.  The result is the same though, a goal down and looking frankly shambolic in defence.

After the goal slack marking from a short corner gave Henry oodles of time to pick out a cross but fortunately the Reds managed to stand firm this time.  Our first chance came after around a quarter of an our, Greening playing the ball to Reid who turned well and shot but was just off target with the ‘keeper looking beaten.

Another opportunity was lost when Garner beat their keeper to a lose ball, he crossed a low ball in well towards Findley but Darren Ward was on hand to prevent him opening his league account for the Reds.  Whilst there were some decent moments for us, a quick break from Millwall saw Lee Camp in action to prevent Bouazza scoring, and indeed reclaim the loose ball before Marquis could pounce.

Indeed, our defence seemed eager to test the resolve of Camp – a dodgy backpass from Gunts put him under unnecessary pressure, moments later some calamity defending from Chambers gifted the home side the ball in the box only to be saved by a last-ditch Boateng challenge.  Henry missed the last chance of the half, having yet again been gifted a chance to score.

Clearly Schteve’s words at half time had some effect – the Reds had more about them, but were still easily outpaced by the home side.  That said, we were starting to look positive – Cohen drilled a decent ball in to the near post where Findley got a touch on it but struck the outside of the post for a goal-kick.

An hour on the clock and nothing looked like changing fast, Marcus Tudgay was introduced in a straight swap with Joe Garner.  Forest were fading though, and Millwall looking dangerous – a 35 yard freekick from Bouazza required a decent save from Camp, and Cohen needed to be on hand to clear the resulting rebound.

Reidy was our next player to be withdrawn, with Majewski replacing him.  Forest started to enjoy a degree of possession without really going anywhere – whilst Millwall counter-attacked with pace.  N’Guessan – on as a sub – broke through at pace and crossed brilliantly to Trotter who made no mistake at the back post to double Millwall’s lead.

Trotter could’ve had another too, but Camp saved his effort from a tight angle.  The final chance fell to Mkandawire who made a mess of controlling N’Guessan’s ball to him having just beaten Chambers.  All in all, a frustrating afternoon.  Not shots on target, no real cohesion in midfield and defending – at times – like a bunch of clowns.

I know it’s kinda traditional for us to have a slow start to the season these days, but this was a frustrating afternoon’s work from the boys.  With Derbyshire and Miller (assuming he doesn’t get homesick!) waiting in the wings there is hope of more deadliness up front, and a trip to so-far pointless Doncaster on Tuesday could be a good opportunity to get going this season.

McClaren has a real job on his hands – he sounds frustrated post-match, and whilst I can empathise with his desire for wide players, there has to surely be some concern about how ropey we are looking in defence too?  Either way, it’s too early to be worrying unduly at the moment – I’m sure he has a plan… doesn’t he?

23 Responses

  1. I agree: we were dreadful. Lot of possession but all played square across the midfield. Garner and Findlay were utterly anonymous up front. I don’t think we had a shot on goal.

    Last season we attacked with pace and drive. Now our midfield consists of fat old guys. All good ball-players, to be sure, but none of them are going to create something by bursting forward. I don’t think any of them set foot in the opposing penalty area today except for corners. I genuinely couldn;t see any way we could possibly score a goal today. Last season we had about eight strikers, most of them playing a part in most games – today we had two guys who would be lucky to start in a league 1 team. I can’t wait for Blackstock to get back to action, but even once he’s fit it might take him months to become the player he was before.

    Keep up the good work with the site, mate.

  2. Awful.

  3. Sounds alot like the Barnsley match “started to enjoy a degree of posession without actually going anywhere.”

    We do need experience in the side but maybe there’s too much in there? Greening and Boateng can’t both play the holding role and spray passes sideways all day, it’s too ineffective and very frustrating. I thought Greening would play further forward what was he like today did he get forward much?

    Schteve needs to change something, its ok having Derbyshire and Miller up top but if the midfield’s going to be outfought, outpaced and out everything else you’ve mentioned here then that needs to be addressed.

    Good honest report as always.

  4. I wasnt fooled by some of the play on Tuesday night our defending at times was awful and County should have beat us.Today the side looked leggy and lacked any cutting edge you are right Schteve does have his work cut out.

    Im not convinced by the old Boro guard in midfield yea I agree a bit of experience is needed but we miss Cohen and the Moose in the middle.It will take time for Mclaren to get his own side and I suspect many will be shown the door .Looking forward to the 2 new strikers coming in boy do we need them.

    Patience is a virtue me thinks ….

    U reds

  5. Yep. Cohen at LB leaves us short in 2 positions. Firstly he got skinned regularly again (for millwalls 2nd they had an unchallenged cross) but equally importantly, the boro old guard do nit have cohen’s engine in midfield so we miss his box-to-box controbution in the middle.

    I think the old guard can make a difference but playing all three makes the midfield pedestrian. In fact reid is so slow it is like playing with 10 men when we dont have the ball.

    We also missed ando’s pace abd work rate today. Must do better at donny!

  6. Despite the euphoria of Tuesday night, the shortfalls are clear to see. I love Chrissy Cohen and he’s a fine player but he’s not a natural left back and it shows. Yes he can do an emergency job in that position but he cannot in my opinion cover it for a season long campaign because he is too easily turned and lacks that burst of speed to cover back quickly; opponents have figured this already and that will get worse. Why can’t the management see this and how can a LB not be a priority even if its not ‘the’ priority.

    The priority has to be up front because at the moment we look about as toothless as my Granny but we have taken action there!

    I am a bit more sanguine about the midfield and think some of the comments above are overly harsh. The problem is that we don not have an attack that can hold the ball for a second let alone long enough or the midfield/wing backs to join in. As such we are turned too easily and caught on the hop going forward and that has created a reluctance from the midfield to get forward and leave gaps. Give us a solid forward line and I do think that will change; hopefully Miller and Derbyshire will provide that.

    My final, and perhaps biggest worry, is that Campy, Wes and Chambo seem to have stopped understanding or talking to each other. We have always had moments of calamity defending but this season it seems every high ball in the box is causing us problems. On Tuesday much of this was down to Smudger but there were signs against Barnsley and now Milwall too. I am praying its not a ‘want away Campy’ situation but time will tell.

    Overall, no panic….yet…..but we have work to do!

    • Maybe this shows that LITTLE of this was down to Smudger, who played very well and saved us more than once or twice.

  7. The best way to describe Forest’s performance today is: “too much foreplay and not enough penetration”. I posted on here after the County match that we fans are going to have to be really patient with Schteve, while he changes the way our team plays. I also mentioned that the previous NFFC Manager motivated his players in a completely different way, which meant that he got another 25% of effort out of the same players. In other words, Schteve is a coach who treats you like a human being and Billy was a sergeant major screaming at you on the assault course! The players are still acclimatising to this change I think.

    I think that Schteve needs to buy a left-back sharpish, which will resolve the issues with our defence and bring back some of the drive that is missing in midfield. Schteve is probably desperate to get Moussi on the field to add some bite and drive, but yet again he’s injured! Despite being a big fan of Reid, I think he is not helping as he is not mobile enough and doesn’t help Mr Cohen – hence we have issues in defence.

    I remember when Schteve was appointed, he commented about his lack of knowledge with regards to Championship football – well it’s starting to show! In recent years there’s only been one team that have been able to play ‘passing football’ and get promoted – West Bromwich Albion, under Tony Mowbray – they still got relegated the following year and Di Matteo made them much tougher the next season. Mr McClaren needs to learn the need for workman-like players in this division fast, otherwise we could become a “push-over” team. It feels like we are playing in the Premier league in midfield at the moment.

    The two new lads will make a big difference, but somehow the coaching staff need to work out how to play ONE creative midfielder alongside ONE defensive midfielder with at least one outlet-player to carry the ball forwards. I’m sure it will come and I’m still positive, but if I can see the problems, so can the opposition scouts…

  8. Once again our seasons start is hampered by the Keystone Cops approach on transfers both in and out . Like Billy and Colin before him Schteve has now been hit by the ‘ curse of the acquisitions committee’ which seems incapable of delivering up timely additions or properly managed contract renewal signatures. its all too late again ! .

    Marthurs ineptitude is pervading this club season after season , our managers year after year , suffer a motivation collapse at the start of each campaign as we get create uncertainty in contract renewals ( ie was the plan to keep Earny ?) , new personnel in late and unfit ( did we not get our first choices ? ) , and the team set up then needs months of hard work unravel and re balance . Left back remains unaddressed yet again ….why !? Cohen in the end will go out of frustration .

    We will have see on Derbyshire and Miller , hopefully they are fit to slot in but I’m fearful they will need more time . I’m sure in the end they can gel with Dexter when he’s fit , but as many including Schteve are hinting the League is now started , and our poor mix means we have other issues to address besides the strikers , including the mobility of the ‘new’ midfield and the interminable issue of left back .

    Once more altogether now…… MARTHUR out ..!!!!!! .why this CEO can mismanage year after year in so much detail and still survive is beyond me .

    Sorry I feel better now …..aaaargh ……

  9. Doughty thinks very highly of Mr Arthur Rob But I agree we are not hot in the transfer market and always playing catch up its frustrating.

    It will take time for Shteve to assemble his own side many of the Davies signings will go and I suspect that might include Lee Camp he deosnt look happy to me.

    Regarding left back Lynch is a better LB to Cohen when hes fit he played really well against Leeds away last season then hardly kicked a ball ?

    A season of transition ………..

  10. Not that I expect anyone to be remotely concerned, but I’ve changed my bets at work and am now offering evens on SM being sacked by end November rather than end December.

  11. In reference to the Miller and Derbyshire deals, if Billy Davies was in charge I would be happy right now and I would be confident about us winning promotion. However, with Steve Mclaren as manager I have no optimism whatsoever. At the end of the day, a team is only as good as their manager (see the difference between Burnley under Owen Coyle and Brian Laws as an example). Steve Mclaren as far as im concerned is a dreadful, uninspiring manager and I am now at all suprised by our poor start, although I do think his signings have been good. Watching highlights of Forest vs County I saw Martin Allen huddle his players together during extra time and he passionately gave his team talk. What does Mclaren do? Get out a board with red dots and move them around, half the players arent listening and the other half are probably too mentally and physically tired to listen. I know who I would rather play under.

    I have not been Forest this season yet and I hope to go to the West Ham or Leicester game but unfortunately I am not expecting much.


  12. Spot on as usual nffc. A dismal afternoon.

    Just to add a couple of things that nobody else has mentioned yet: Lewis had one of those games where he didn’t look interested and I hope (like Camp) that this isn’t window-connected. Not sure either why McClaren stuck him out left when Reidy came off. Why not Greening or Cohen (with Lynch at LB)?

    And Reidy’s too slow that’s true but on the plus side he was always showing for the ball, always full of ideas and generally looking forward rather than sideways (unlike others in midfield). F*** me though he needs to get fit.

    Radi also looked eager when he came on. Not sure if he should start every week but I don’t think we can afford all three old guys in the same midfield.

    One last thing: no bite up front, as everyone knows, but there were very few passes played for the strikers to run on to. Backs to goal all day long.

  13. interesting to read all these opinions ….i recall begining of last season ..pratley and whittingham were on the cards ..but blundering ap and marther blew it ! well theyve blew it again by sacking one of the best managers weve had in many years since BC..and appointing an idiot in his place ! we will definately be mid table if we are lucky ….Billy davies come back ! wish someone would buy the club …great site

  14. look at our next 5 games…can’t se us picking up many points ..obsessed with wingers and strikers …we need a new back 4 or at least competition for every player in that position, to be honest the back four picks it’s self .. so we need to strengthen there..also its quite plain for all to see that campy is not interested, maybe he is going , but if the window closes and he’s still here he needs to buck his fuc**ing ideas up…as for the left back slot (where is psycho when you need him)..that needs addressing immediately, obviously mclaren has told cohen there is no room for you in midfield will you play left back….cohen will be off soon ..i predict mid table 8th at best …what do you predict

  15. message to sisco….the king is dead long live the king!!!!!…….another season with billy in charge and rid of the wank panel and we would be up there….”billy davies is our saviour””……………

  16. I have to say King Billy transformed this team ……and the sacking was at time and still is inexplicable, especially given the new monies now being dished out at the wrong times…anyway its all in the past but…lets get behind schteve

  17. I’m sure we are all behind STEVE !!
    The team are learning a new way of playing and I’m sure Steve does know what he is doing.
    With the first few games of the season there are always some freak results…like winning 2 !!
    It will all change shortly !!

  18. I wouldn’t worry. Our traditional woeful start is compounded a little by new faces ect. Judge the team after 46 matches.

    The rise will be slow but consistent. He has a three year contract, we will be in the prem by then

  19. Dont go with all the slagging off of Shteve judge when he has his own side
    hes still building and has players playing out of position.Wee billy has gone I was sad like most but he rocked the boat too much and it wasnt healthy.

    McClaren needs time and also his style is very different to that of Davies.Give him time and I think we will come good with a much better bunch of players ready to play in the Prem already.

    U reds

  20. o dear ….dont worry some say ..traditional woe ! dont go slagging off wolly brolly ….we already had a half decent side under king Billy ..he just didnt have the backing ..the costly AP panel should be scrapped…im not sure we are all on the same planet ..but i can tell you a fact …the players that were under Billy are not happy the way the club is as of present…..they are not 100% behind the club ..Fact ..we will see by tomorrow …rovers are down to half a team …we havent even got one ! shocking !

  21. We need a left-back. Cohen back into midfield please. Thanks.

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