Just… no.

Nottingham Forest – 0
Burnley – 2

No goals.
No clean sheet.
No points.
No drive.
No passion.
No desire.
No shape.
No tactics.
No ideas.
No creativity.
No threat.
No positivity.

No hope?

To offer some content, second goal aside, I was impressed with Lascelles’ debut.  I thought Camp should have claimed the first cross, the second was poor marking from the youngster – but aside from that he looked comfortable on the ball and always tried to find something other than a HOOOOF when he had it.  Plenty of endeavour but little end product from the other debutant Guedioura.

It was awful.  The fans in the Upper Bridgford were in good form though.  It’s sad to hear Bamford has gone but not surprising, the acquisition of Danny Higginbotham and Scott Wootton is good news given our defensive frailties – but it’s not going to help us score a goal.  I’m sad to say that what little faith I had in Cotterill is diminishing by the second.  I’m willing to accept that he inherited a difficult job, but we aren’t getting any better under him.

Second from bottom now, and the small matter of a trip to Derby to come.  Nigel Clough must be rubbing his hands together at the prospect, whereas it’s looking like shit or bust for our manager.  If things go badly at Pride Park for him I can’t see a way back for him with the bulk of the fans.  Of course the situation we’re in isn’t all his fault, but he’s the man tasked with getting us out of it – and he’s failing.  Badly.

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Wes Mor-gone…

Wes: One of those players you never thought you'd see in another shirt

I’m pretty sure the first time I saw Wes Morgan play for Forest was in a pre-season friendly at the City Ground whilst he was still a youngster.  He put in a thunderous tackle on a similar-unfamiliar Rafael Van Der Vaart which left the Dutch midfielder without his boot on one foot.  I think this was back in 2003, unfortunately the Forest website doesn’t seem to show friendlies on its’ retrospective fixture lists, so I can’t check.

Since that fledgling appearance we saw him undergo the ordeal of being a stand-in leftback under Paul Hart, before eventually cementing his place in the heart of defence to the point where he’s amassed over four hundred appearances for us.  His departure makes Paul Smith our longest-serving player if my calculations are correct – obviously the fact Wes is a local lad and a bit of a cult hero, well, it makes it sad.

Having said that – a fee of up to a million quid for a player who is out of contract in a few months is sensible business.  Alas, it would appear sensible business is the name of the game at the moment for Forest (of course, more sensible business would’ve been attending to his contract earlier, and NOT signing a plethora of more highly-paid primadonnas but hey, ain’t hindsight a wonderful thing?

For Wes I’m actually pleased – he’s stuck with us for a long time and just as, with the advent of McClaren and higher wages, he must have been looking forward to a new contract to reward his loyalty and commitment.  To be overlooked until the era of Doughty walking out and Cotterill’s cost-cutting kicked in must have been a real kick in the teeth.  He deserves the opportunity to go and earn a chunk of cash before his career begins to decline.

Of course, it’s a sad indictment that a mid-table Championship team with perhaps an outside chance of sneaking into the play-offs is deemed a better bet than we are – but at the moment it’s a difficult assertion to deny.  As such, I wish Wes all the best and will certainly give him a decent reception should he ever line up against us.  To be named in the Championship team of the year by your peers is high praise indeed, so he will be missed.

If Forest fail to use this move to fund at least incoming cover for the departure of Morgan then we really are up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  Chambers – hardly a ‘safe pair of hands’ this season is suspended for another game, Cunningham picked up an injury, Lynch is surely only a game or two away from his next injury… hmm, soz Gunts, looks like you’re on your own in defence.  That’s if we don’t sell you, too.

In other news Notts County apparently want to extend the loan of Kieron Freeman.  Hopefully we tell them to get bent!  We could do with him as cover for Cunningham given the lack of numbers we have in defence!

Forest vs. Burnley preview..

Ah, it’s been nice to have a weekend without Forest to spoil things, hasn’t it?  Well, if you brush aside the whispers of who’s leaving and when.  So far the only confirmed news on that score are Leicester and their bids for Wes Morgan – but, of course – it would certainly be the Forest way to pave the way for departures as the transfer window draws to a close and we’re not able to replace any outgoing players.

Interestingly Tuesday’s opponents seem to have been linked with Luke Chambers too.  It’s fair to say that since assuming the role of captain we’ve not seen anything like the best from Chambo, although even the most vehement scapegoater of the number four would probably admit it would be folly to let him and Wes go without any form of incoming replacement.  £1.2m and two unidentified fringe players – doesn’t sound too bad, does it?  Probably just made up bollocks as usual at this time of year.

Anyway, the match.  Burnley are currently sitting very much in the realms of mid-table sandwiched between Derby and Leicester.  Closer to having an outside sniff of the play-offs than being dragged into a relegation mire – although with considerable competition from many would-be promotion contenders.  They are real yoyoers in terms of form – November started with four defeats, but ended in two wins taking them into December where they lost only once – at home to Portsmouth.

January for them has been a mixed bag but more negative – defeats away at Leeds and Norwich in the FA Cup, followed up with a win away at Middlesbrough.  Derby were their last opponents at Turf Moor where they ground out draw with Nigel Clough’s men.  They come to us on transfer deadline day, so we might well find certain players turning out for the last time in the Garibaldi before putting their names to contracts with other clubs.

Having started January with a win at Ipswich, and subsequently recommenced the awful run of neither winning nor scoring goals, perhaps a glimmer of hope is offered by actually bagging a goal against West Ham in our last outing.  Then again, we’ve had glimmers of hope before – they need to start shining a little more brightly if we are to haul ourselves from the drop zone.  Our last win at the City Ground was the middle of November, also – embarrassingly – against Ipswich Town.

With a ticket offer available there might be a slightly larger crowd than the evening fixture and general malaise would ordinarily have garnered.  I can’t say that I’m particularly enjoying the prospect of freezing my proverbials off whilst enduring what promises to be another laboured exchange at the City Ground.  It’s not going to be an easy game against Eddie Howe’s men, particularly if it’s true that Wes Morgan won’t be a Forest player by then (being suggested as I type that he’s off for a medical at Leicester tomorrow).

So, maybe this means Moussi back in defence or perhaps Lascelles will get an opportunity to taste some first team action.  He should not be the only youngster under consideration too, given Patrick Bamford’s nine-goals-in-two-games haul in the youth cup recently he must be at least in Cotterill’s thoughts for his goal-shy team, mustn’t he?  I’ve no idea whether he’s ‘ready’ or not – but my god we could do with some goals, and he seems to be in the mood for ’em.

As ever, it seems, I don’t hold much hope for much positivity from the Reds – but as ever I’m hopeful that they can somehow conspire to prove me wrong and start to show signs of having the drive and capability to drag us out of trouble.  It is starting to feel rather like a forlorn hope, but having had a bit of time out from the pressures and more time to work with Sean O’Driscoll on the training ground perhaps there might be better times to come.

On a completely unrelated but very sad note I read in the news that Colin Tarrant had died – I’ve got really happy memories of his role as Brian Clough in the local play ‘The Spirit of the Man’ written by Stephen Lowe.  Probably more famous for his role in ‘The Bill’ – but I never saw that!  For his Brian Clough role he’d worked well on the mannerisms and voice and really gave – appropriately enough – spirit to the character.  Up there with Michael Sheen’s Clough for me (in both cases, in productions I wasn’t massively fond of in truth!).  Rest in peace, Colin.

Westley’s dilemma..

Westley. Considering departing the sinking ship.

Westley worked his way up from a youngster in the organisation, his reputation for a great work ethic showed from an early age. Rarely unable to work through illness or injury, he established himself as a key member of the staff over many years. Always modest, and never one of the shining stars – he was the kind of solid and dependable team members that any organisation depends upon.

Through his many years he’s been through performance issues with the business, he’s seen massive changes in personnel. He’s continued his fantastic attitude and workrate whilst surrounded by those less committed than himself, he’s done this whilst under austerity measures of wage restrictions that see him rewarded less well than his contemporaries at other businesses.

This season a change in policy saw a lifting of wage restrictions and an ambitious drive to accelerate the performance of the business. Westley was excited, his current contract was up soon and he was looking forward to the opportunity to be rewarded for his dedication, loyalty and hard work, as new recruits came to the organisation on much higher salaries than had previously been allowed.

Unfortunately this new strategy proved a gross miscalculation.

With performance levels unacceptable a backlash of customer complaints saw the chairman step down, the general manager depart and leave the club in a very different financial climate of cost-cutting. Nobody had spoken to Westley about his circumstances for some time, and other organisations had noticed his dependability and his contractual situation, and registered their interest.

Whilst Westley had a great relationship with the customers of his company, was a valued colleague by his team and felt a fondness for where he worked, he couldn’t help but think about the opportunities that he could have in another organisation. Certainly he could earn more money to provide for his family, he might have a chance of developing his career to higher levels too.

The fact that Westley happens to work for a football team rather than in a factory or office doesn’t really change anything for me – I wouldn’t blame him at all for seeking to move on from an organisation that has not recognised his value or loyalty and the contribution he makes to their performance. Add in the kick-in-the-gut influx of sub-standard players on considerably higher salaries and that just compounds matters.

I would be absolutely gutted to see Wes Morgan leave Forest, the only club he’s played for professionally and our longest serving player, however, I wouldn’t blame him one little bit – and he’ll always get a good reception from me should he ever return. You’ll never beat Wes Morgan!

Reds pay the penalty for wasteful finishing..

More excuses from Cotterill, although in fairness, he does have some grounds for complaint at the officials

West Ham United – 2
Nottingham Forest – 1

We appear to have two stock scripts at the moment – be bloody awful and roundly beaten, or suffer misfortune (oft of the refereeing persuasion or perhaps a moment of slack defending) and lose because basically we can’t either provide the final ball or finish to opportunities we may carve out ourselves.  This was one of those games.  It’s easy to point the finger at the referee for the first penalty, but there was plenty of self-inflicted issues too.

A few changes to the FA Cup game – a welcome return to Wes Morgan who appears to be subject to an advanced courtship from Leicester, so probably won’t be here much longer.  His return restored a degree of order in the back four we haven’t seen from Chambers or Moussi.  Similarly likely-to-leave McGugan returned along with McCleary and Marcus Tudgay to the starting line up – those missing out being Boateng, Anderson, Reid and Findley.

Camp
Gunter    Morgan    Lynch    Cunningham
McCleary    Moussi    Greening    McGugan
Harewood    Tudgay

An early opportunity spurned by the Reds when West Ham seemed to be on their heels as the Reds took a corner.  McGugan put in an uncharacteristically good delivery which found Tudgay – who conspired to put his side-footed effort over the bar from ten yards out.  West Ham too carved opportunities – when McGugan lost the ball in midfield it was played out to McCartney on the left who put a teasing ball across the six yard box, with nobody in position to covert.

At the other end McCleary put in a good run and a low cross that missed most Red shirts but found McGugan, who put his shot over from around twelve yards from goal.  A lot of Forest pressure followed, albeit with limited end-product as we’ve become accustomed – although McCleary again was making some opportunities for us – pulling the ball back to Tudgay who looked to have got a chance on target but for a deflection from Winston Reid.

An injury to Cunningham saw a necessary early change from Cotterill, he opted to push Gunter across to left-back and bring McCleary to right back with Anderson coming off the bench to play infront of him.  Unfortunate because Garath had been a good outlet for us going forward.  Anderson was almost a super-sub though, a good run from McGugan saw him cut back from the goal line who was prevented from getting a shot away by Faubert.

From the home side perspective they had plenty of moments too – a poor clearance from Lynch fell for Collison who brought a decent save from Camp.  Then came the moment of madness from the referee – a Collison cross struck the arm (down by his side) of Moussi who had his back to play (heaven knows why) – poor decision from the referee as we are becoming resignedly accustomed.  Noble made no mistake and blasted it into the top corner giving Camp little chance.

Forest behind at half time, and the fans somewhat left focusing on a ridiculous refereeing decision and perhaps conveniently forgetting some of our own profligacy infront of goal and in the lead-up to a goalbound opportunity.  That’s not to defend the referees decision, of course, it was ridiculous.  But we must try to consider the bigger picture and understand areas of improvement we can influence.  Seemingly referees will always be bumbling idiots – and rarely to our benefit!

The second half wasn’t a bad start from Forest – McCleary was still posing problems for West Ham, he won a corner courtesy of a decent cross in the early stages.  The corner was taken by McGugan and found the head of Tudgay – his looping header ending up just over the bar.  Another chance created and taken by Gunter – a solid run forward and shot which brought an excellent save from Robert Green.

Another good corner from McGugan went right through the danger area before clipping the far post and going out.  Frustrating.  An uncharacteristically early change from Cotterill saw the casual Jonthan Greening withdrawn for Dexter Blackstock.  As seems to be the way with our substitutions, it seemed to herald somewhat of a revival for our opponents – Collison breaking through to a one-on-one with Camp, the Forest keeper making a good save.

West Ham were turning up the pressure, their substitute Henri Lansbury bringing another excellent save from Camp.  The pressure bore fruit in the end with the awarding of a second penalty.  At the time I thought it harsh, having seen the replay I’d put it in the ‘harsh-but-seen-them-given’ category, it’s easy to forget referees and linespeople just have one look – and I can see how that look might’ve made them think Gunts deliberately handled the ball.

Anyway, Noble again stepped up and this time placed it low into the corner, sending Camp the wrong way in the process.  This got their tails up and Noble could’ve been walking away with the match ball as he found a way between the Forest defenders but put the ball wide with the hat-trick very much in his sights.

Cotterill’s final change was to replace the largely ineffective Marlon Harewood with Ishmael Miller.  Marlon got a good reception from the home fans – which is unsurprising, he did well for West Ham back in the day and was kind enough to not provide a fat lot of trouble for their defenders in the game to boot!  Forest were still under the cosh, Camp again made a decent save this time from Baldock – it ended up with Collison who fortunately mis-kicked.

Another opportunity for a third goal fell to Carlton Cole, who had done well to get away from Wes Morgan and get himself on the end of Faubert’s cross, his header though was off-target.  The consolation goal was a good ‘un, but too late – a lovely hit from McGugan beat Robert Green all ends up from 25 yards, but with 93 minutes on the clock it was only ever going to be light relief.  Still, our first goal against someone that isn’t Ipswich in god knows how long.

Maybe it’s a start.  I’m not holding my breath, though.  There were undoubtedly positives to be taken here, but a lot of recurring negatives where we don’t seem to be making much progress.  With January rapidly running out we need to do whatever business we are going to do (which hopefully involves replacing the likes of Wes Morgan with another defender (or two!) given how short we already are in that particular area.

West Ham United vs. Forest preview..

Let’s start with something positive – our youngsters are 7-1 against Wigan in the FA Youth Cup fourth round.  Bamford has scored four and there’s still twenty odd minutes to go.  Perhaps the future isn’t so bleak after all?  And now, let’s drop back down to earth by contemplating the weekend’s fortunes of our senior so-called professionals.

Our next probable defeat will come at the hands of West Ham United at Upton Park.  Whilst the motivation of labouring our way out of the drop zone and perhaps salvaging a bit of personal pride ought to be motivation enough for our lads, Sam Allardyce’s side have the opportunity to claim the top spot that could be theirs with a third successive win in the league.

The only absentees for Big Sam are the longish term injury victims of Guy Demel and Matt Taylor, both players have returned to training with the Hammers, but aren’t likely to be fit enough to be risked against us.  Well, let’s face it, they probably are – but given the other options at their disposal it would seem an unnecessary risk!

We are without Chambers, who serves the second game of his three match suspension, and are still missing Wes Morgan, Chris Cohen and Ishmael Miller through injury.  Tuds is likely to feature again, and perhaps after his ill-conceived Twitter tantrum Matt Derbyshire might have talked himself out of an opportunity to prove himself to be something other than the lightweight diving sod that we’ve seen so far. (I wish I’d screen-capped his tweet too!!).

Of course, we do have the former-player factor in our favour – Marlon Harewood of course left his first spell at Forest to hook up with West Ham United back in 2003.  He netted a goal every two and a bit games for them, admittedly at a time when youth was still on his side and he could last a full game, but y’never know!  If we play anything like we did on Tuesday though we’ll see the kind of shoe-ing that West Ham dished out at the City Ground back in August.

I would be delighted, as ever, to be proven wrong – but I can’t see much past a comfortable win for the home side here unless Sean O’Driscoll can have a really fast impact on our moody squad, or indeed the supposedly interesting news that Paul Taylor has been teasing his followers on Twitter over that might transpire tomorrow.  Maybe Stan Collymore is going to come out of retirement and roll back the years working under Frank Clark once again.

Hmm. Maybe not.  Frankly, a point here would be a delightful surprise – three would make me a little bit delirious!

Patrick Bamford: Scored more goals tonight than any of our senior players have managed all season

In the meantime the youngsters have just netted their eighth goal against Wigan courtesy of Osborn.  Well done lads, I might forgo my season ticket in future and start following the youth team!  Sorry, make that 9-1. Bamford with a fifth goal – that’s indicative of a real winning mentality right there – so many goals up but still wanting more.  The senior players could learn a thing or two from our youngsters.

They’ve scored more goals in an hour than the first team have mustered in thirteen matches.  Full time score was 9-1.  Take a bow, lads, that really is excellent.

He’s Derby-sure to get in trouble..

Sean: Not famous for hoof-ball, which is a start!

First I suppose I should welcome Sean O’Driscoll to Forest – I’m quite pleased with his arrival.  He might encourage a few of the team to, y’know, try passing it along the floor to their teammates occasionally.  Certainly he’s used to trying to make silk purses out of sow’s ears – and with not a particularly high level of investment.  Hopefully he will also provide a bit of support to Cotterill too who, despite being very much in my bad books, does cut a rather loan figure at the moment.

Back on to the prompt for this post – I think Twitter on the whole has been more of a curse than a blessing since it because uber popular within the football fan and player community – and out-of-favour Matt Derbyshire is demonstrating exactly why at the moment.  Obviously Cotterill was quite quick to (rightly) moderate his squad on Twitter – Matt today has directed his followers to a third party to hand out abuse to the manager on his behalf, it seems.

If you check out the person in question, Scott Parsons, he’s basically been posting a tirade of abuse aimed at Cotterill for having the audacity to not pick Derbyshire.  A player who, you may agree, has not exactly demonstrated prowess or a decent work ethic (aside from his efforts at diving) when he has been given a chance in the side.  I happen to agree we’ve seen too little of him, but perhaps some of these comments his friend has been posting for him indicate why.

This is indicative of serious dressing-room unrest, and for a player to signpost things like this against their manager is potentially very damaging, and might well betray wider-spread ill-feeling.  With rumours of transfer requests going in, it doesn’t seem unfeasible does it – although who would want to buy these players on the basis of unprofessionalism like this coupled with below-par performances is difficult to guess.

Whilst much like many Forest fans I too have levelled criticisms at Cotterill, I do acknowledge we’re kinda stuck with him – and he’s kinda stuck with at least one player who is openly undermining him.  Then he wonders why he isn’t getting picked (in addition to his cameo appearances of swan-diving to the floor under little or no contact from opponents).

Say what you like about the dreaded transfer acquisition panel, under its’ slow machinations we didn’t bring in many players to the fold who seem the type to stir up trouble and discord like this.  Another layer of factors that are making times at Forest doubly hard.  Wind your neck in, Derbyshire, knuckle down in training and prove to the manager and us that you are worthy of your place – because no bugger is going to want to buy you in a hurry.  More’s the pity.

Whatever reservations I have about the gaffer, it is increasingly apparent that the ‘don’t give a shit’ attitude that we perceive from the stands amongst our playing staff is very much alive and well, which is frankly shameful.  Where is your pride, some of you?  You are supposed to be professional athletes and are earning a handsome salary for the privilege – how about you start acting like it?