I remember as a kid, a mildly poorly one at the time, my mum trying to get me to take a paracetamol to help with feeling rubbish. Not having a drink of water to hand, the taste of the tablet in my mouth was horrible. In the struggle of my resistance to swallow, I crushed the tablet with my teeth onto my tongue to make matters a hundred times worse. I can vividly remember the taste and the face I pulled as a result. It took about 37 years to replicate that facial expression; and that was about 70 minutes into Forest’s performance on Tuesday night. Talk about a bitter pill to swallow.
So where to start with my summary? Football can be a cruel game. On Sunday afternoon, whilst I was still coming down from the euphoria of the performance against Leeds, I was asked by a sports TV station for my thoughts on our automatic chances. You can imagine that I was feeling incredibly optimistic on the sound bite about promotion. Unlucky for me then that the podcast went out to broadcast on Wednesday morning after the horror show served up against Charlton. For f***s sake Forest!!!
I deliberately gave it 48 hours before doing this write up to see if the craziness of The Championship would make an immediate rant look particularly foolish too. Alas that wasn’t to be the case on a night where the majority of the results went against us. It feels like the pressure is back on Forest to remain in the play-off places let alone thinking about the automatics. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry. I don’t know what we Nottingham Forest fans have done in a former life to receive such treatment. That’s a lot of people to do a lot of bad things! Maybe we should all go to mass confession in Market Square.
So where did it go so badly wrong? It pains me to say that the blame lies firmly at Sabri’s doorstep. So frustrating that not only have the players shot themselves in the foot with recent results, this is the 3rd time Sabri has tried to freshen things up this season with dire consequences. Lee Westwood pointed out that sport is all about momentum and he’s completely right. It does seem as though the whole club has got to pick itself up off of the floor for Saturday, being decked by a sucker punch on Tuesday night. I was actually lost for words for 20 minutes or so after the game. Shell-shocked.
Not to be our night because we were horrendous. I bet he doesn’t play that team against @WBA on Saturday. It’s not the 1st time he’s fielded a weekend team this season and paid the price. Sports about momentum and we just lost all of ours. https://t.co/ijvzlrVmyk
— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) February 11, 2020
Before the game, I did think that Samba Sow and Lewis Grabban may well be on the bench given their efforts on Saturday. Whilst Sammi Ameobi has been hit and miss in terms of consistency, he’s top of the assist charts and he will be a key player in our run in. It was to our detriment too that he hadn’t been fit enough to train. It’s definitely better to miss these players for a game rather than a handful. I know others might say worry about injuries later and play your strongest team but having seen Forest’s strength in depth on Tuesday; they all need wrapping up in cotton wool from now until the end of the season.
To be without the trio was always going to be a big hit to take so in changing the full backs as well, I really didn’t get why Sabri would further disrupt the team. Our resilience in defence has been the biggest strength of the season, (not to mention its attacking edge). A new dynamic of Bong and Diakhaby on the left was always going to be a big gamble to gel from the off. You could say the same for the opposite flank given Matty Cash has almost been an ever present this season behind Joe Lolley. Carl Jenkinson looked like a player who hadn’t played for 5 months and so did Bong. They’ve had the fair share of criticism but I’ll judge them after a decent run of games.
With the newly arrived January signings all finding their feet, it felt like there was too much change for the team to cope with. What we got was a very disjointed performance and it wasn’t really a surprise. It was excruciating to watch at times as seasoned pro’s misplaced easy passes not just once or twice but five or six times. It didn’t resemble anywhere near the side that had so gallantly defeated Leeds just 48 hours previously. We looked a poorer side than Charlton that’s for sure.
Was Sabri arrogant enough to disrespect Charlton? I really don’t see that. Sabri isn’t daft. Maybe he’d looked at upcoming fixtures and felt if there was an opportunity to rest certain players and get a result then perhaps Charlton was the game to do it. I can understand that to a degree. Time will tell if Lewis, Samba and Sammi have gotten over their injuries for Saturday but most of the teams above us (who played last night) were all unchanged from the weekend.
I was most surprised that Joao Carvalho didn’t get an opportunity given the initial changes and even when further subs were made in the 2nd half. Charlton were exactly the type of opposition that would have allowed him to get in to the game. To Lee Bowyer’s credit, Charlton get the ball down and try to play and for the 90 minutes. Forest were given ample encouragement to express themselves but were so badly lacking in quality. If there was a time for Joao to spark into life, that was it. What we ended up with was a clogging midfield of Watson, Yates and Semedo that really wasn’t going to cause Charlton many problems.
My other annoyance was that if we were resting so many players then why didn’t we set the team up to scrape a 1-0 win or even take a draw? Could the experience of Michael Dawson have been brought in as a 3rd centre back to make us more difficult to beat in adopting a 3-5-2 to suit the options we had available.
Of course I don’t get paid to pick the team and Sabri has held his hands up that he made a mistake. I’m definitely not here to throw Sabri under a bus. The guy has been top class the moment he walked through the door. What Forest can’t continue to keep doing is self-sabotage our own season. Tuesday night has to be the final act. The Championship is all about ‘fine margins’ (take the mickey if you like) but Sabri found out the hard way; you can’t make five changes against any team in this league and expect to get away with it.
Despite the disappointment, we’ll be right behind you all on Saturday and if we win, it will all of been worth it! Come on you Reds!
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 4 – Well below par but having been thrown together, it’s hard to target individuals. We need to put this firmly behind us and hope the damage isn’t insurmountable.
SAMBA – 6 – Not a lot to do.
JENKINSON – 5 – Started quite brightly but faded. Rusty.
BONG: 4 – A debut to forget.
WORRALL: 6 – Joe did fine.
FIGUIRIEDO: 6 – Had a battle with Taylor.
YATES: 5 – Couldn’t influence the game as he would have liked.
WATSON – 6 – Kept Forest going.
SILVA: 6 – Set pieces were awful.
LOLLEY: 6 – Really bright in the first half but faded as we needed somebody to produce some magic.
DIAKHABY: 5 – He looks massively short on confidence.
WALKER: 5 – No service but should use Lyle Taylor as a yardstick for trying to influence the game without the ball.
SEMEDO: 6 – Couldn’t make an impact.
DA COSTA – 5 – Game was done by the time he came on.
CASH: 5 – Didn’t fare much better than Jenkinson with a number of poor final balls.