I want to be clear that this isn’t a rant where I’m making excuses for a defeat. I didn’t think Forest deserved to lose against Hull but I wanted to make some more general points about my observations from Wednesday night.
When I’ve watched Premier League games this season, VAR seems to be taking a lot of the headlines. A Sunday paper insert carried four match reports discussing it. I’m honestly torn if it’s right for the game after originally being for it. The more I see of it in action, the less I like it. I appreciate that it very much takes away the passion of the moment.
However, following another horror show from the referee on Wednesday; I’m now beginning to think that there is a very legitimate call for VAR to be brought in, whether I like it or not.
On further thinking about the situation we have in The Championship right now, there has to be more support to get the right outcomes. It cannot continue in its current state. For all the arguments against VAR, I can’t take the continued flow of refereeing howlers. I’d rather take the negatives of VAR and accept the right decisions were being made. Championship games are being ruined. Against Wigan both teams had their own share of poor decisions and Wednesday was the same.
The ref (I don’t see any need to make this personal) made a series of decisions that were laughable against Hull. The sending off for one, was no more than a booking and the shirt pulling on Ameobi was so unbelievably blatant; to not give a penalty for it was crackers.
At the time, I thought the ref might not have gave it as Sammi didn’t quite have the ball under control. On seeing the replay, he couldn’t bring the ball down because he was being held/dragged back by Eric Lichaj. Unbelievable stuff.
The Championship is so competitive that most games are decided by a fine margin. If those fine margins are because of consistent poor refereeing then I think there is a genuine case for VAR being introduced. I came out of grounds most of last season bemoaning the decisions and this year I’ve almost accepted it that’s it a norm. I don’t see how I/we should accept it.
The bigger question after Hull though was where do Forest go from here after losing two of our most winnable games of the season so far?!
I don’t think we’re playing too different from some games that we’ve either won or drawn (Leeds and Charlton). With Samba Sow and Michael Dawson being huge losses and with Joe Lolley and Carvalho not at their best, there has to be a degree of patience. I’m not sure if it’s back to the drawing board for Sabri but it’s probably about going back to basics.
Joe Lolley made his name at Forest through his tenacity and work rate and maybe that’s what he needs to get back to. Every single away Q&A I’ve done this season, there’s not been a single away fan that hasn’t mentioned Joe as Forest’s biggest threat.
Joao Carvalho I feel even more sorry for. After having last season written off under the previous manager, he came back into the team with a new vigour and it was no surprise that on the games that he appeared in, we started to win matches. With a preseason under his belt, I was really looking forward to seeing him start the season. A stupid Alfreton Town tackle has robbed him of that opportunity.
Even though it’s not going great for them as individuals, what I don’t see is a lack of effort from both players. I can feel the frustration and whilst it’s easier to say ‘drop them’, I honestly think we need to work through the situation. These boys are our biggest talents, they don’t become bad players overnight.
This is a time to support the players; not write them off and that brings me nicely onto my next point; the City Ground ‘atmosphere’.
The atmosphere was so flat on Wednesday, it didn’t feel as if their were over 27,000 home fans in attendance and the team were aiming to get back into the automatic positions. There was a feeling of expectation that Forest just had to turn up.
I’m not going to lie, I’d had a long day at work and just short of an hour and half drive to get to the City Ground for kick off; I needed an instant pick me up on getting to my seat. Yes the players need to give the fans something to shout about but the Hull fans were quite right to mock us with their ‘football in a library’ chant. The mood was one of complacency. Some started a few songs but the rest couldn’t get going. Considering where we are in the league, that’s pretty abysmal.
Considering we have such good connections with Olympiacos, I think it’s about time the club seriously start to think about how the atmosphere can be improved. Mr Dore, who had been out to Greece for the pre-season friendly said he’d seen nothing like the Olympiacos ultras with their noise and pyro display. Is there not anyway the club, Forza Garibaldi and The Supporters Trust can get people together to plot a way forwards? With another chant being discouraged, it feels like a good time to review the stadium experience.
As for Saturday, there needs to be a collective effort from the players to the stands. The players need the support as Reading will be coming to The City Ground smelling blood after their upturn in form. The players don’t have to look any further than Matty Cash for the desire that we want to see. It only takes a tackle or endeavour to get the crowd on board.
It feels like a big game on Saturday and it’s the biggest test for the manager so far. I think we stick with it.
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 6 – We weren’t at our best and the front 4 were particularly disappointing. It’s not quite clicking. Frustrating!
SAMBA: 7 – Solid as ever. Distribution excellent.
CASH: 8 – single handedly dragged us back into it. Others take note. Sometimes it’s endeavour over quality to make things happen.
ROBINSON: 5 – strangely hesitant. Wasn’t his night. Another not quite at last seasons levels.
CHEMA: 7 – no bother at the back
WORRALL: 7 – solid enough.
WATSON: 6 – slightly off night for Ben. Can’t do it all on his own.
SILVA: 7 – growing by the game. Really took game by it’s horns when he moved further up the pitch.
CARVALHO: 6 – trying to get up to pace with new team set up, opposition, etc. He started very brightly and needs a bit of luck or reward. Needs some love.
AMEOBI: 6 – hit and miss from Sammi.
Another one who can’t do it on his own every game.
LOLLEY: 6 – plenty of endeavour from Joe but not quite clicking for him. Set himself incredible standards to follow since joining Forest. Let’s get behind him.
GRABBAN: 6 – without a goal for a few games, he needs something to get him going again.
YATES: 6 – added energy and played a great ball out to the right second half. Pass of the match.
ADOMAH: 5 – couldn’t get into it.
MIR: 5 – arguably could’ve got something on a near post header but didn’t have much time to make impact.