After a difficult last few weeks, the trip to Huddersfield Town didn’t have the desired effect that many of us were looking/hoping for as we made our way up to North Yorkshire on Saturday. It’s tough watching at the moment as the manager and players go through this sticky patch of form. Whilst the result and the performance was far from great, what I will say; it was certainly a more spirited Forest performance from the previous showing against Sheffield Wednesday. However, and once again, a serious lack of cutting edge was Forest’s ultimate downfall of coming away from a game with no points.
Similarly to last week, we conceded two really poor goals from a defensive point of view. Having started the game reasonably well, and mustering one or two half chances, the game was Forest’s to take to Huddersfield. Criminal then that we conceded the first goal from pretty much out of nowhere. Huddersfield were barely in the game at that point. It was an absolute killer blow as Huddersfield and their fans sprung to life. The second goal, conceded straight after half time was as bad. Centre halves ball watching? Unbelievably poor I’m afraid and you know, there are basic messages in football that reverberate around Sunday morning changing rooms; that seem to be lost on Forest at the moment. It really is that basic.
That’s not to say that I don’t have any sympathy for the defenders. We have to start taking our chances because the onus on not conceding is taking it’s toll at the other end of the pitch. Ball retention has been an issue all season long and it continues to be a huge problem. The manager ultimately carries the can but why is it at times that our players cannot make simple passes? It’s almost every single one of them. Despite getting into a number of good positions throughout the game, it was either a poor ball into the box or a half hearted attempt. This group of players are way better than what they are serving up at the moment.
On a more positive note; it was great to see Samba Sow back on the pitch. He added exactly what’s been missing in the last few games and it was a shame that Ben Watson and Thiago Silva didn’t get the same memo. The pair were well below par and Sow was almost playing on his own in the Forest midfield at times. So frustrating given the form of the pair for a good part of the season.
I thought Chema looked decent slotting in at left back but asking him to turn creator was notably a step too far for him. Presented with great opportunities to put the ball into the box when we were chasing the game, he spooned the ball over the bar and behind for a goal kick on a couple of occasions. I thought Tobi Figeurido had a good game at the centre of defence also, restored in the place of Michael Dawson.
Huddersfield’s antics were pretty abysmal and it was no surprise that Forest got fed up with Danny Cowley’s men. Whist it was inevitably too little too late, for the final 20 minutes, we looked a completely different team. Joe Lolley resembled Joe Lolley and Carvalho came on to offer a little more with the ball. Joe Worral’s header gave us the spark we needed and it was a great ball in from Lolley. If we’d played for another few minutes, I’d have fancied us to get an equaliser and it would have been deserved. Lolley was massively unlucky not to see his back post effort hit the back of the net. It was good to see a bit of bloody fight after Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday. That was more like it from Forest and I’ll take these green shoots for something to hold onto because you know what? We look a half decent side when we start playing anywhere near the levels we’re capable of.
We are our own worst enemies and we need to work through it. It’s all very well taking the plaudits when things are going well but now is the time to stand up to be counted. We have to start games better and pick the tempo up. We need to see leadership on the pitch because at the moment, we’re in danger of going into our shells. We have to get ourselves out of this slump.
We’ll certainly find more out about this group under Sabri during this poor run. For an hour of the match, we were playing like we didn’t really mean it. I’ve seen many a Forest side throw a manager under the bus in recent years and know only too well that once the dissenting voices have started, this can easily snowball into season derailment.
Some of our own supporters need to get a grip. After 10 minutes, a senior gentleman behind me at the game was screaming abuse at Thiago Silva. The attitude from the stands really doesn’t help does it? No doubt the gentleman behind had paid his money so he’s entitled to his opinion but that’s not supporting, it’s mindlessly taking a swipe at individuals because the football team isn’t playing well. It’s pathetic.
Unfortunately another defeat took us into familiar post match discussion and social media meltdown. Sacking Sabri Lamouchi has started to gather a bit more momentum. He’s 22 games into Championship football. We’ve been in the top 8 for 3/4 of that time. Now hitting a bad patch, the tides are turning. Such a loyal bunch some Nottingham Forest supporters at times. Perhaps its a sign of the times, in an instant success society we live in. Perhaps its now the norm for fans to behave in this manner when we start to hit a bad patch. What it does say is an awful lot about the character of a section of the fan base. We will be sliding into incredibly dangerous waters if a manager can’t even get to the 25 game marker. We are a decent side with some talented individuals.
The biggest problem Forest have in my eyes isn’t the manager; it’s that we’ve got players in and out of form and that can’t gather the collective momentum required for a promotion push. If you’re a team with those aspirations, you can’t get away with half of your players having off days. You might get away with it a few times but you’ll get found out eventually and that’s what we are finding out right now. Our best players last season were arguably Jack Robinson and Joe Lolley. They are both nowhere near the levels from last season. Joao Carvalho is the same.
For Forest to be heading further up the table, we need at least 2 of the 3 consistently performing at a 7/10 level. It was only a year ago that we were talking £15m for Joe. We simply can’t afford to have that important a player under performing. I hear the manager is ‘negative’ but Sammi Ameobi is a great a luxury player you will find. The manger finds a place for him and Joe Lolley in the team. Sammi continues to carry our attacking threat single handedly and he needs support. His signing was supposed to strengthen what we already had, not carry it.
Personally, it’s time to back the manager. We are going through a rough patch and we need to come through it as a collective. HIs tactics had carried us to a lofty position. We need to get behind him and the team. Let’s try something different for once and show some character. That applies to every single one of us. There is an awful lot to be positive about.
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 5: Too many below par
SAMBA: 7 – Looked far more assured this week. Didn’t stand much of a chance for the goals.
CASH: 6 – Some great marauding runs but couldn’t find the quality on the ball when we needed him to.
CHEMA: 7 – Looked quite assured at left back and looks to be a good defender.
FIUEIREDO: 8 – MAN OF THE MATCH – No frills from Tobi. Just what the doctor ordered.
WORALL: 6 – He’ll be very disappointed by the goals conceded but scored a good header.
SILVA: 5 – Really struggled. It’s an alarming dip in form. He’s way better than his last two performances. Improved in the final 20 minutes.
WATSON: 5 – When the team are struggling to create, his position in the side becomes questioned. Didn’t have a great game but showed some fight.
SOW: 7 – Great to have him back. Solid hour.
AMEOBI: 5 – Not Sammi’s best game.
LOLLEY: 7 – Far better from Joe. Let’s just hope it wasn’t a one off against an old club.
GRABBAN: 5 – Doesn’t offer a lot for the side without service.
SEMEDO: 6 – Looked far better coming on this week. Contributed.
CARVALHO: 6 – used the ball well when he came on.
YATES: 6 – offered more bite in midfield.