Is tonight gonna be the night will be the question on every Forest fans lips today as we wonder if Sabri and his team can cement our first appearance in the Championship play offs since under Billy Davies.
With Cardiff and Millwall applying a little more pressure on our 5th place spot last night, Swansea are presented with a must win game scenario to keep their season alive. Although it was good to see Wayne Rooney’s Derby County knocked out of the race last night, the pressure inevitably turns on Forest this evening to do things the easy way and pick up all 3 points tonight.
Having supported Forest since the mid 1980’s I’m well aware that the easy way and Nottingham Forest are not two phrases that ordinary go together.
It’s more about character and mental strength at this stage of the season as we try to get things wrapped up against a Swansea side that you’d think will come out and attack Forest. I’m not too concerned about not having the quality in the side; we’ve plenty of that but the sense of belief to see the job through is paramount above all credentials for me.
With Joe Lolley and Matty Cash doubtful for the game, it may well be an opportunity for another player to grab the opportunity of spending some time under the seasons spotlight. Nuno Da Costa has provided some welcome reassurance that there is more to come from an attacking front and I’ve everything crossed that he can get on the goal trail and send his confidence through the roof going into the remaining games.
Whilst of course we won’t be able to be there, there will be thousands of Forest fans kicking every ball at home. Would a packed out City Ground provide the 12th man or would the pressure be detrimental to the players task in hand? I’d like to think the crowd would carry the players home but there’s not much point crying over spilt milk!
The in stadium messages, cut outs, flag displays, the newly released fans version of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling will all be of some help. Positivity is needed.
We are with you lads!
I caught up with Swans fan Ant Dews for his take on things Swansea-wise…
How have you found the restart behind closed doors as a purist and how would you summarise Swansea’s opening games?
I don’t like the behind closed doors games but it’s better than nothing. I just find it strange they can’t shake hands etc. but can fly into tackles and then help each other up !!!!!! I also think it gives away sides a slight advantage without any home fans in the ground cheering them on.
We started off really well outplaying Middlesbrough and winning 3 0. We then follow that up with a 1 0 loss at home to Luton Town!!! Since then it’s been very inconsistent, playing well at times but at others; looking like the team have met just before kick-off. On our day we are a very good side but equally when we an off day we are very very poor
In terms of the wider season, how have Swansea faired under Steve Cooper? From an outsider perspective it feels like Swansea have been steady in a season which has perhaps been more about consolidation and building on last year’s season back in the Championship.
To be fair to Steve Cooper given its his first club managers job he hasn’t done too bad a job. We started the season on fire which probably raised expectations to a level where they shouldn’t have been. The biggest criticism from the fans has been the inconsistency and some strange tactical decisions at times, also sometimes we just don’t seem up for a game which questions his motivational techniques. Our biggest problem will be most of the first team are on loan so we will be very short of numbers come the end of the season, but given, as you say, the loss of both Dan James and Ollie McBurnie (over half of our goals last season) most of us would have been happy with where we are before the season starts and Cooper deserves a lot of credit for that, he’s made mistakes but hopefully he will learn from them.
The biggest problem for us is our side is very young and full of loan players, at least half of the team is on loan and half of the team are below the age of 24 and for some this is their first ever taste of league football. That was the reason Cooper was appointed (he managed England to the Under 17’s World Cup win) due to his work with the young players but we cant keep turning out superstars from the Under 23’s and relying on Coopers connections to bring in what are essentially kids.
What should Forest fans expect from this Swansea side in terms of style of play and strengths? Which players would you single out for Forest to keep an eye on?
We play some eye catching football at times but it is very sideways and backwards, it looks pretty but doesn’t always go anywhere. We have drastically improved our set piece defending this year and do look good when we go forward with confidence (but again this is hit and miss). We are fairly solid at the back although our centre backs have a total combined age of 40. A weakness for me is very little steel in the middle of the park, Matt Grimes is a class ball player but we don’t have a hard man in the middle (Jay Fulton thinks he is but just picks up yellow cards). Overall it depends which Swansea City turn up!!!
In terms of players to watch Rhian Brewster (on loan from Liverpool) on his day and when he gets the service is a joy to watch and knows what the net is for, and links up very well with Andre Ayew who has given us some spirit and fight (but on about 75K per week he ought to). Matt Grimes in the middle of the park is a class act on the ball and as captain is always looking to get on the ball. Freddie Woodman in goal looks a really good prospect (but again he is on loan from Newcastle) as does the young Ben Cabango at the heart of the defence. I also like Bersant Celina but for some reason Steve Cooper doesn’t fancy him instead picking the enigma that is Conner Gallagher (on loan from Chelsea)!!!
What have been your biggest problems this season (areas of weakness)?
Our biggest problem this season is we can be very one dimensional and as we don’t have much pace out wide if you stop us playing through the middle we struggle to break teams down. To be fair to Cooper he has changed the formation the last few games and we do look a little better in this respect playing with wing backs and 3 at the back. Our other problem is physicality we look very weak and easily knocked off the ball and I think a lot of teams have played this way against us and we seem a little lightweight, particularly in the middle of the park.
Swansea seemed to have re-emerged from the lockdown is promotion realistic for you boys?
I don’t want promotion!!!! Firstly we are not ready from a playing side and secondly I prefer Championship football to the Premier League. Yes it’s nice that the world knows your club but just simply cannot compete at the top of the table and are always fighting for the middle ground at best and at times it can be awful going to grounds knowing that a 3 0 loss is a good result. In the championship anyone can beat anyone on their day and it’s not all about money (although it certainly helps).
If there was any Forest players you could have at Swansea – past and present – who would they be and why?
For me I would want a Roy Keane type figure, a hardman central midfielder!!!! In your current side I would love to see Lewis Grabban playing up top for us and at present (although I don’t like him) a Ben Watson again to put the tackles in and give a bit of experience to the younger players
What are your hopes and predictions for Wednesdays game?
I’m hoping for a win but can’t see it. Forest are one of the best sides I have seen this season, well organised and difficult to break down, the type of team we really struggle against. In the home game you got it spot on, stop us playing, close us down quickly and hit us on the counter attack which we simply can’t deal with.
I can never really go against my team so I will go for a hard fought 1 1 draw.
Many thanks to Ant for his contribution, they’re very much appreciated at Munich and Madrid.