It’s official, Forest cannot conspire to ruin your Saturday this weekend. Admittedly your Sunday might take a turn for the worst, because that’s when the game is – a 3pm kick off, so don’t get caught out. This is, of course, to accommodate Birmingham’s participation in the Europa League this season. Can I honesty say I’m looking forward to resuming the City Ground pilgrimage? Not really.
After a shameful performance midweek at Burnley, and the subsequent sacking-of-man-not-employed-then-offering-him-a-job bemusement surrounding David Pleat, also gone from the backroom is reportedly unpopular Bill Beswick. So on the one hand McClaren appears to be being backed by the so-called removal of a man who hasn’t been active at Forest for months, on the other hand he’s had a trusted ally taken from him.
Tricky times for the manager, that is for sure. Another failure to win at the City Ground won’t prove popular, with protests already mooted in some circles for before the game, it will be interesting to gauge the fans as they muster around the ground – it’s difficult to do so purely online.
Anyway, I digress. Birmingham. Managed by Chris Hughton, who certainly showed a degree of elan last time he managed a newly relegated team in this league – but he too has enjoyed an inauspicious start to the season in league terms – like us, just two league wins so far for the Blues, which puts them also on 8 points, like us, but with a positive swing of seven goals on the old goal difference.
No new injuries for Steve to worry about, but well, he should damn well be looking to go for something rather different to our last outing. Whether he actually shows some nerve and considers whether the form of seemingly immovables Messrs Greening and Chambers really justify a starting berth, or whether he continues to go by habit well, it remains to be seen.
Personally, I’d be tempted to drop Chambers (no offence, Luke) and go for a back four with Hill at centre half and Lynch at left back. Or possibly switch the left siders – not sure. Moussi and Radi in midfield – then we have a problem, no fit wingers. Maybe he could consider Lewis in there as well, then going for the three up top with Miller, Derbyshire and Findley.
As I start to tinker, it does make me realise it’s a tricky prospect. It’s also quite easy to make decisions on paper safe in the knowledge that they’re not ever likely to be tested properly. We are still without Anderson, Boateng, McCleary, Blackstock and of course Cohen. Birmingham have doubts over Stephen Carr and Curtis, both of whom have knee injuries.
So, predictions are always tricky – it’s difficult to see Birmingham coming for an all-out-attack, but then again, maybe they’d see flailing Forest as the perfect opportunity for a kick-start. Certainly I do expect to see pockets of discontent from the fans before and possibly during the game, the numbers involved will be really interesting as a proper barometer for the mood.
Basically, a win would make everyone’s life a hell of a lot easier. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.
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