This is the dawning of the age of Steve Cotterill..

Nottingham Forest – 2
Middlesbrough – 0

Ahh, that feels better doesn’t it?

It wasn’t a world-beating performance either, y’know – but even with fifteen minutes gone we were already turning to one another and observing we’d seen more completed passes and more positive football than ten games under McClaren.

What a difference a new Steve makes, huh?  It was great to see Mr Cotterill get a good reception from the Forest fans, and he seems to have quickly recognised one of the the problems we’ve endured is a lack of width in midfield (and I don’t mean the kind that Andy Reid provides!) with quite an unconventional selection:

Camp
Chambers    Morgan    Lynch    Hill
Gunter    Moussi    McGugan    Majewski
Tudgay    Miller

That’s right.  Four-four-fucking-two.  Sure, Gunts and Maj aren’t wingers, but they’d clearly been very definitely told that that was where they were playing.  The other difference was the workrate – our lads were up for it, big time.  That of course puts question-marks over their culpability for the earlier games this season, of course – but let’s embrace the spirit of a new era and look forward instead.

I’ll be honest – I wasn’t looking forward to the game.  Whilst they’ve stuttered with some draws, unbeaten Middlesbrough represent a tough opponent in this league, and if we couldn’t even muster a fighting performance against a team as bereft of confidence as Coventry with a new manager watching from the stands – what chance did we have, really?

Early doors was pretty frenetic and disjointed – Forest looked to press without too much end-product whilst the visitors found their feet initially by defending in numbers and looking for the quick break.  The first half-chance fell to Tuds who pressured Hines into giving up possession, but the striker snatched at the chance to shoot from range and put it wide.

Another half-chance came for his strike-partner when a long ball saw the big striker chasing back with a defender who was composed enough to chest it back to Steele before Miller could get it.  Forest continued to probe with some nice passing in and around the final third – but always struggling to put the final ball in (which we’ve become accustomed to in fairness), but it was good to see at least good intentions.

These good intentions paid dividends ten minutes before half time – some patient build up saw Lewis end up with the ball in midfield, he played a delicious through-ball to meet the excellent run of Gunts, who took the time to look up and drill in an excellent cross to find Tudgay whose run was perfectly timed to meet the ball four yards out and plant the ball into the net.

A lovely team goal – I can’t wait to see the highlights of it.

We were buoyed by the goal – a decent corner from Lewis found Chambers who headed goalward, only for a defender to block (I thought with a hand personally, but then I always think that!).  It fell for Chambers again who couldn’t get much on it other than divert it into Miller and over the bar.  A late chance almost netted us an own goal after more good work from Lewis and Gunts saw half time arrive.

Very pleasing – a confident performance, a balanced performance – a footballing performance.  Of course the usual nervousness remained – being a goal up at half time is nothing new to us, and nobody was expecting Middlesbrough – as yet to have a shot on target – to remain quite as non-threatening as they had been so far.

Our fears were nearly realised early in the second half – a spurious freekick (don’t get me started on the referee!) was delivered inswinging by Robson, exactly the kind of delivery we’ve struggled to defend all season – and sure enough, the Boro players were queuing up at the back post to claim what looked like an easy goal.  Lucky for us he missed it – amusingly a chunk of the Boro fans thought it was in.

It was a false dawn for Boro though, Lewis nicked the ball in midfield and burst forward, but elected to shoot from range when perhaps he could either have sought to play in Miller or take on the one defender remaining.  His final effort ended up some way wide of the target which was a disappointing end after he’d done so well to create the opportunity.

Of course, we’d soon forgive him.  Forest pressed again, Miller had two effort both of which were blocked, Majewski had one which was blocked too – before the ball found Lewis who evaded a number of desperate lunges from the Boro defenders, jinking his way into the box with consummate ease before sliding the ball into the goal from the D to send the home fans into raptures.  Another cracking goal.

Could’ve been three moments later – a freekick from McGugan found Wes in the area who glanced a header just wide.  This confident performance was like watching a different side to that we’ve become accustomed – I really can’t over-state that here.  With fifteen minutes on the clock Cotterill replaced Miller for Findley – Miller getting a decent send off from the Reds fans who’d appreciated his physical performance.

Boro notched their first shot on target and first real work for Lee Camp moments later – saving well from Justin Hoyte’s effort at the far post.  There were a few groans when Greening was seen warming up, which is a bit mean, he came on to replace McGugan and immediate got involved with a couple of decent passes and a crunching tackle – the what-started-as ironic cheers soon started to sound more genuine.

Just as we were complimenting the manager for not fucking around with the formation and just changing like-for-like to a degree, he did alter things a bit – he withdrew the hardworking Radi and put Derbyshire on, and rather than reshuffle seemed to opt for a 4-3-3.  Possibly because despite falling behind by a second goal Boro were still providing very little threat.

They did start to threaten a late burst – but the defence held firm, with Joel Lynch again putting in a stand out performance with some excellent tackling and superb anticipation of where the ball was going to end up.  The Reds mopped up a late threat from their number two, who had given Gunts the slip and got one-on-one from a tight angle – but Camp made a good save at his near post – and that was pretty much it.

More than anything it’s a relief – Forest fans showed the perfect attitude, they – after some considerable grumbling (including from me!) got behind the new boss from the off, and clearly the players have too.  As he said himself, this is a great start – but there’s a lot of work to do, and he sounds like he’s going to really relish doing it as well.  How refreshing that is to hear compared to the “I don’t know what’s going wrong” monologues from Steve McClaren.

Well done to the boys in Red.  It’s a late start, but it’s better late than never – we’re out of the relegation zone which even this early in the season didn’t feel comfortable.  Now the work begins for the new era.

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19 Responses

  1. Just got back to Peterborough from the game and for once this season I’m smiling. This game was a tough call coming so soon after Saturdays woeful showing but Cotts can be pleased that this was a different team out on the pitch. He said this was down to the players but, whilst recognising it was a canny thing for him to say, his presence must have had some galvanising effect on the players. Well done to him and enjoy the moment but don’t get carried away! One promising, almost Billy like committed performance won’t save our season and I remain convinced there is still much to rectify at the Club – MArthur take note we haven’t forgotten about you. For now we can enjoy a team fit to wear the shirt, so well done lads. Well done to to the fans too for their attitude both to the Team and to the welcome they gave to Stevie C. Chant of the day has to be: “We’re winning at home, we’re winning at home, you must be sh1t, cause we’re winning at home!”. That made me smile too – happy days.

  2. I was actually looking forward to read this one!!! Having only twitter and a gamecast its nice to READ the action. Nicely written as always….
    COYRs!!!

  3. Great result!
    Not getting too excited as I see Borough as a team Forest should put away comfortably…
    Clearly the wY forward is to be on the front foot at home as most sides would be happy take a point from us at home…. Onwards & upwards. Home form will bring confidence and hopefully with the liked Of Ando & McLeary to return soon our squad will have a little more depth. U Reds!

  4. […] the original post on Through the seasons before […]

  5. Much improved performance last night, thanks in no small part to a sensible formation. Whilst neither gunter or raddy are wingers they do know what a winger is supposed to do!
    We were undoubtedly helped by a toothless boro team but the work rate thats been missing was there for most of the game and the confidence that was flowing after the 2nd goal was clear to all. Doubtless we’ll face tougher sides but it was pleasing to see everyone having a decent game all at once, especially Tudgay, who i thought was the man of the match and deserted his goal from doing something our strikers dont do enough, busting a gut to arrive in the danger area!
    Well done Forest and lets hope we can push on from here

  6. Better chant was….steve mclaren, what a wanker by boro fans, quickly echoed by forest supporters….made me smile……actually enjoyed the game last night. LOL…great start , if they keep up that workrate and commitment, we’ll be a very good side again soon

  7. Great performance last night from the reds. Thought it was pretty difficult to find a MOM as the work rate went up ten fold from every player. Second half in places was awesome, brilliant through the midfield, dangerous up front and rock solid at the back. I would quite happily buy the video of that one again. There will be some tired legs this morning and players sitting on the side lines thinking how am I going to get into this side? Thought we had a run of the ref’s decisions at times, and they missed the sitter at the start of the second half, but after that we could have notched up 4 or 5 because they didn’t know which way we were coming from.

    Fantastic, well done to Frank & Steve, great start, and all the best to the outgoing Chairman.

    Bring on the next match.

  8. Great start and definitely 2 points more than I though we would have. You would think that this would be more than just a little confidence booster. Beating a top 2 side easily and getting straight out of the relegation zone is brilliant for morale.

    Also consider that the players responded so much better to being played in positions and systems that they understand this can only help them have more faith in the guy in charge and the decisions he makes. They will listen to him much more than they did to smc if they understand and can see the logic. If SC is anything like BD then he can turn this side round pretty quick by playing them the same way as last season and maybe improve by being a bit more adventurous away from home. As SC + BD are mates there is more than a good chance they’d of chatted about the players and how to get the best out of them. I’d like to think that BD has been helpful or is willing to be. Lets hope this great start doesn’t get undone by a poor show against Blackpool.

    I think as long as we can see endeavour, the players pulling in the same direction and there is hope things will come good because the team plays well together we can tolerate a few bad results, even a few bad performances but when its clueless, directionless play like under smc its unacceptable. I just hope SC will bring about a real team ethic like BD did. From that platform who knows what Forest can achieve?

  9. Wonders will never cease? 4-4-2. A Forest team with width? Amazing.

    Not a classic but we didnt need a classic – what we needed was a hard fought gutsy performance to reinstate belief and some much needed self confidence. We havent turned into a poor side. We’d turned into a side who had forgotten how to win so last night would be welcome relief for sure.

    Some good performances last night. Lynch who never missed a tackle. Gunts for a great hardworking performance in a very unfamilar position. Lewis for his undoubted creativity. The Mousse for chasing and harrassing everything and everybody in the middle of the park. BUT my MOTM award goes, surprisingly to Tudgay for not only scoring a great first goal but some tireless work front to back (2 great defensive headers very late on) and putting in a shift and a half.

    So Im pleased but won’t get carried away. Tough trip to Blackpool next but all I can say is its a great starting point and as long as we can maintain belief, AND the incredible hard work, better times for sure lie ahead.

  10. Great start and undoubtedly bodes well for the future. Rather than bemoan lack of signings etc etc, the new manager took the step of giving us width from within the squad he has at his disposal. I’ve been suprised in the past that nobody has elected to temporarily play Gunter further forward. He gives us natural width, work-rate and another defensive minded body to stop the crosses we keep conceding from. Good backing from Red’s support slightly tempered by the tosser’s who ironically cheered Greening’s completed passes; he deserves more respect than that & when he dons a Red shirt he’s exactly that- A Red!!
    Make no doubt about it; Steve C is the man to move the club forward.

  11. So the players are being coached again, the team selection is more balanced and we’ve kept a clean sheet. Nice one.

    Roll on 10 games time when we can start worrying about having no left back again (or will the worry be no right midfielder now?).

  12. Amazing.
    Hopefully by the end of the season the McClaren era will just seem like a surreal bad dream. Shudder.

  13. Great result & exactly what was needed. Also brilliant picture – can anyone elaborate on the new gaffers performance on the touch line last night ?

  14. Good performance by the lads but like nffc says makes the players more culperable for the previous matches. For what ever reason they didn’t like Smac. Also good to see SC getting a good reception after what more than a few have said about him not being the right man. Well its early days but onwards and upwards.

  15. Like night and day great result and well done to everybody at the club boy did we need that.Its not hard football 4,4,2 attack with width and press when not in possession we did that in spades last night football people with passion thats what I like to see.

    U reds

  16. Google is the key to us shaking a leg this season lets hope he stays fit.

    U reds

  17. I doubt any of us would’ve predicted that team with Lynch at CB, Chambo back at RB, Gunts and Radi out wide and Tudgay starting.

    Hats off to Cotterill for a fantastic start as Forest manager. We’re right behind you Steve!

  18. Playoffs ARE still achievable !
    The higher up the table we go the more confident the players will become !! Phew !!!

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