Birmingham away has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for Forest and recalling last seasons debacle under Martin O’Neill it’s refreshing to think that we’ll pose some kind of threat on Saturday. My vivid memory of that game was the travelling fans chanting ‘Carvalho’ at the manager to recognise his undoubted talents. What a difference a year makes eh?
It goes without saying anything that if we don’t turn up we’ll get beat but I’ll be amazed if any complacency creeps into our game. We’ve got a sniff of catching the top 2 and this needs to be the focus from now on. Hopefully Sabri’s boys can continue where they left off on Tuesday.
I’m feeling pretty hopeful that if we perform, we can come away with the maximum points. The Blues will pose a threat up front and we’ll need be tight at the back and be ready for a decent scrap I’d imagine!
I caught up with Bluenose Ande Mullinex for his thoughts on Saturday’s game.
How is current form coming into the Forest game?
Our form has been indifferent to say the least.
The last two games sum up our season perfectly. In our last league game against Cardiff we played them off the park for 45 minutes but only scored one goal. We then conceded in the second and found ourselves desperately holding on for a draw. Then last week we looked very flat and we very lucky not to be beaten by Coventry in the FA Cup.
We have the odd 30 minute spell where we look brilliant and can move the ball quickly. However, throughout the season, goals have been a major problem for us. So we go into the Forest game knowing we are capable of putting together a winning performance, but it is more out of hope than expectation.
What and who do Forest fans need to be looking out for from your team?
Our main threat is still Lukas Jutkiewicz. New signing Jeremie Bela is starting to settle and his pace means he often gets in to good cross positions, and there is no one better at the back post than the big man. However, we can leave him isolated at times.
However, for entertainment value keep your eye on Jude Bellingham. There has been a lot of hype about the 16 year old this season, but it is definitely not hyperbolic or unjustified. He can boss a game from midfield as is he a good passer, a strong tackler, and a composed dribbler. He has also chipped in with valuable goals this season. He has been known to tire in the last ten minutes of a game, but he is already strong enough for this level and there is no doubting that he will go on to be a top player.
Also, notable mentions for our full backs Maxime Colin and Kristian Pedersen, two of the most consistent players in the division.
How is your manager doing out of 10? Give a few reasons why.
I am trying to be as fair as possible, but I can’t give Pep Clotet more than 4 out of 10. He has been handed a lopsided squad by our owners and asked to implement an attacking, passing style of play that we just don’t seem capable of for the majority of the time. However, despite all of those challenges, it often seems to me that he is out of his depth. The Coventry game is a perfect example – Mark Robins was able to affect the game with tactical changes in the first half and substitutions in the second, two things Clotet seems incapable of doing.
What are your hopes for the remainder of the transfer window?
At time of writing, we have just announced the loan signing of Scott Hogan. He is the sort of player we need up front, although it is a risk given that he hasn’t been at his best for a while now.
I think it is unlikely that we will bring anyone else in before the deadline, but if we do it needs to be someone with pace who can run in behind.
If you could sign one Forest player, who would it be and why?
Whilst I’m sure someone like Matty Cash or Joe Worral would be a great long term signing, right now I would have to go for Lewis Grabban. If we had an out and out goal scorer like him in this side we would be in a much better position in the league – I do not have the words to describe how many good chances we have wasted this season.
What are your predictions for the game?
I am going to go for 1-1. I think Blues will have a strong period at some stage and I can see us causing Forest problems. However, a clean sheet against such a strong attack seems unlikely at the moment. That being said, recent experience shows us that we can expect anything from a drab 0-0 to a 5-4 thriller so I won’t be backing that prediction with a massive bet.
Many thanks to Ande for his contributions. They are very much appreciated here at Munich and Madrid,