Bloody hell that was frustrating yesterday.
Sometimes there are days when everything you hit flies in and on others, it finds row Z. Unfortunately, Forest’s performance against Cardiff fell towards the latter for those that just wanted something to warm them up at a very cold City Ground.
Forest started brightly enough and some early chances fell to Ameobi and Carvalho who both should have done better after finding themselves in great positions after some good build up work.
Cardiff started fairly brightly themselves and Gary Madine was proving to be a handful that neither Figueiredo or Joe Worrall could get to grips with. Madine gave a 1st half master class in how to hold the ball up and bring your team mates into play and frustratingly, Cardiff’s tactics worked a treat.
Mendez Laing looked to have had too much time to pick his shot from the edge of the box and Joe Worrall really should have blocked it looking at the replay. Perhaps Brice Samba was unsighted but it didn’t matter, the Bluebirds were ahead and from that point onwards, we struggled to trouble keeper Neil Etheridge.
That’s not to say that there wasn’t plenty of endeavour. Ben Watson and Tiago Silva did their level best to keep the side ticking over but when we needed quality, it was badly lacking.
2 shots on target from 32 attempts and out of 45 crosses, only 5 found a red shirt, tells you everything that you need to know about yesterday. To hear that the ball had only been in play for 29 minutes in the second half tells you the level of shithousing! The time wasting seemed to be lost on the ref and how the officials only found a minutes 1st half injury time despite the ref speaking with Etheridge about it was beyond me. It’s not an excuse though I had no complaints. Cardiff did a number on us bouyed on by a decent away following. The Forest crowd was once again expectant and very quiet as a result. On a day when the players were below par, so was the atmosphere. The club need to think about how it can improve.
After scoring the decisive goal, Cardiff had a strong 20 minutes and looked a decent outfit with Bacuna pulling the strings from midfield. Consistent with their lacklustre season, they became sloppy and were encouraging Forest on to really have a go at them. Whilst their had been some strong running from Ameobi to forge a couple of corners, our set pieces yesterday were awful, as bad as I can ever remember in a single game.
It’s not the first time that Carvalho has been tried at home and we’ve struggled. The problem with his inclusion is that we are sacrificing the tried and tested midfield set up to accommodate him. We go from having Ben Watson as the shield with two ‘number 8’s’ either side of him to carry a threat from midfield. It’s takes two to screen Joao when he’s in the side and it’s a problem that neither Aitor Karanka or Martin O’Neill could fix. The latters answer was to leave him out completely…
It’s a conundrum that at the moment is pointing towards Joao not being in the side if it’s going to effect our promotion chances. It pains me to say that but we simply have to stay up there; at all costs whilst we navigate the next ten games. There’s all to play for if we’re in and around the top six come mid January.
A degree of responsibility rests with Joao himself in the sense that if you’ve got a chance in the side, you need to grasp it (with both feet). His lack of movement off the ball seems to be the biggest worry for me and that he’s not finding the pockets of space that he was doing with ease at times last season.
That’s not to say Carvalho didn’t do some good things yesterday, he just has to do it more often. A great chance fell to him in the first half and after a beautiful bit of chest control found him well placed in the Cardiff box; he got his technique all wrong and skied the ball over the bar. He volleyed well wide when another chance came his way later in the half.
The price tag isn’t his fault but £13m demands more I’m afraid. With so many fleeting appearances, does he need more game time to get up to speed? I don’t think we can afford to do this without gambling our promotion chances away. That’s why Sabri gets paid the big bucks and I’m typing away on a Sunday morning…
I did think yesterday was the game for Joao to come on as an impact sub; after an hour of grappling with Cardiff. It seemed inevitable what Neil Harris’ side were going to bring. It really was Millwall in disguise. Sabri can’t be accused of being defensive, he wants this to work but for whatever reason, it’s not so far this season at home. It was very similar to the defeat to Hull.
It’s unfair for Carvalho to shoulder the portion of the blame however. That’s certainly not the case here. Sammi Ameobi was more miss than hit despite carrying our greatest threat going forwards. Joe Lolley couldn’t get going after an upturn in his recent showings and Matty Cash had an off day with his delivery. Albert Adomah weakened the side when we needed him to give us a spark. With Silva deployed in a slightly deeper role until the last 15 minutes, he couldn’t put his stamp on the game as he has done in recent games.
Given what I’ve just said, you’ll perhaps understand why Lewis Grabban was getting fed up with the lack of service as he ventured out wide in search of the ball; inevitably we lost our biggest threat in the 18 yard box and we have to keep our discipline.
It was one of those games where we simply weren’t up to the task and unless we can improve at home; our promotion credentials hang in the balance.
There’s been a January transfer conversation going on in the lads WhatsApp group this morning and I honestly don’t really know who we should bring in that’s; a) achievable or b) will genuinely improve the first XI. We’ll have to pay big money for an upgrade so perhaps a high profile loan might be the best bet.
We definitely need two squad reinforcements to push the front 4 players because they haven’t been consistent enough so far this season. There is so much potential that hasn’t been unlocked yet and I honestly think this is where the problem lies within at the moment. Let’s not forget this group of players has taken us to 4th in the league playing in 3rd gear.
For whatever reason, the manager needs to find the 4th gear for our attacking players. Their effort can’t be questioned but their quality can. It will be the difference in our season.
Onto Millwall next Friday!
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 5 – Plenty of possession but serious lack of quality. Can’t afford all of your attacking players to have an off day.
SAMBA: 6 – Could he have done better with the goal?
CASH: 6 – Bit of about off day for Matty with the ball.
ROBINSON: 6 – Thought he’d scored 2nd half but it was a no frills performance from Jack.
FIGUEIREDO: 6 – Struggled with Madine’s physicality but stuck to the task.
WORRALL: 7 – Drove the team on and cleared a game finishing Cardiff chance off the line to keep us in it.
WATSON: 7 – MAN OF THE MATCH – Kept the engine room ticking over with endeavour but lacked quality in advanced positions.
SILVA: 6 – Really disappointing set pieces yesterday. Gave away some silly 1st half fouls away in dangerous situations that could have cost us more. Kept going though.
CARVALHO: 5 – Started brightly but faded.
LOLLEY: 5 – Just couldn’t find the quality that was a huge difference last season. Frustrating.
AMEOBI: 6 – Some good and some bad.
GRABBAN: 5 – No service and couldn’t offer the same physicality that Madine was at the other end.
ADOMAH: 5 – Didn’t make the much needed impact.
SEMEDO: 5 – Missed a good a chance when well placed.
MIR: 4 – Think his only touch bought a foul.