Christ alive, I don’t know even know where to start after the worst Forest home showing I’ve seen for a very, very long time at The City Ground. The closest thing I could think of was a 4-2 drubbing at home to Doncaster, Boxing Day, 2008 when Julian Bennet had done his ACL for the 2nd time in a year. We were three down at half time on that afternoon.
It truly was a 45 minute horror showing from Forest and the worst thing about it was how surprising it was too. This wasn’t a Forest team we’ve seen under Sabri Lamouchi so far this season. It was painfully lacking in footballing basics, fight and energy.
I’ve read and seen others looking for a scapegoat but simply; you cannot defend like we did yesterday. It was embarrassingly easy for Sheffield Wednesday to score four goals. Is something up behind the scenes? There seemed to be a genuine lack of care on the pitch, each and every time a goal was conceded. The body language of the players was of huge concern. Maybe they were just as shell-shocked as the crowd was.
I’ll go as far to say it’s one of the most inept centre back pairing displays I’ve ever seen at Forest. I’m racking my brains thinking of others; maybe the 3-0 defeat at Ipswich back in 1999 under David Platt.
The first goal was that of Sunday morning defending. A route one kick from the keeper was there to be cleared but Michael Dawson lost the first header and Joe Worrall was nowhere close enough to Jordan Rhodes to prevent his goal bound shot. Brice Samba barely reacted. Three touches one goal, all scored within the space of four seconds. That’s how easy it was. A shambles for a defence that has been so mean for large parts of the season.
If the first one was bad, the second goal was reading the alphabet. Just three passes led to Jordan Rhodes heading home from close range. Pretty much unmarked too. The lack of pressure to stop Adam Reach’s cross from Thiago Silva was embarrassing. It’s not very often you see Michael Dawson stare at a cross rather than attack it. His man once again.
A quick change led to Carvalho being shifted into his preferred No.10 position but it was too late. Ben Watson had a great chance to pull a goal back at 2-0 but just when we most needed a bit of composure from our calmest head on the pitch, he shocking blazed over when well placed. It really wasn’t going well.
Shocking defending from a corner led to goal number 3. A corner routine picked out an unmarked Blue shirt on the corner of the Forest box (looked like Ben Watson switched off) and whilst the first cross was blocked, a lack of strength in challenging for the second ball (once more Ben Watson); his indecisive header looping up nicely for Rhodes to acrobatically volley home. This really was pathetic from Forest. Poor from Watson. Rhodes scored a hat trick. He’d not scored for 20 months. This statistic was a perfect summary of things. We are a generous bunch at Forest. Talk about gift wrapped.
If the third was blatant switching off, the fourth was the cherry on the cake of rubbish defending. Watson was beaten to the near post corner; Jack Robinson pirouetted around the knock down whilst neither Michael Dawson, Joe Worrall or Ryan Yates could react quicker than the Wednesday man who prodded the ball to an unmarked Steven Fletcher. I’m not one for swearing on here but that was a real shit show from our most reliable players of the season: dreadful. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say the opposition were just too good but I wouldn’t even go that far. Wednesday played well but I don’t think they were at their best. Clinical for sure.
The boos at half time were inevitable. What had gone wrong? The defence was awful but we looked completely out of sorts in midfield too. Were the changes of Ameobi and Carvalho out wide adding to the confusion? What a mess this was. The showing was in complete polar opposite to what a Lamouchi team has looked like this season. It’s very worrying. It feels like something is going down behind the scenes. I hope I’m wrong but we have form for this type of thing.
I have honestly never seen so many people leaving the City Ground at half time as I did yesterday. Not in 36 years supporting Forest. I could see the swathes on Pavillion Road from the Lower Bridgford Stand. Eek..
On the way back to my second half seat from the concourse, I heard something that I don’t ever want to hear again at the ground. Responding to the dismal score line, somebody thought it was completely acceptable to shout out for all to hear: ‘Get the French **** out’; referring to our manager Sabri Lamouchi. It was bang out of order and I’m calling it out for what it is: racism. The level of vitriol given Sabri’s achievements this season and lack of loyalty is totally staggering. It’s really disappointing and just what I needed to hear at half time.
The decision was made to stick around for the second half whilst others thought more wisely to pick up a few Christmas bits. I’ve heard people criticise those that left, even saying ‘don’t come back, you’re not welcome’. Absolute tosh, if you decided to go that’s up to you. We were awful. Better to go home than slate the players in the second half. If you’ve nothing nice to say…
Back on the pitch, I was initially surprised to see no changes on the pitch, maybe the manager was right to make all XI players earn their wages after such an abject first half performance. The Forza lads decided that they’d smile in the face of advertisy with a rousing turn of ‘Forest are magic, On and off the pitch’ but after what I’d seen and heard, it couldn’t have been further from the truth. The irony! The Wednesday fans could barely be arsed to sing either, they might as well have gone home at half time too. This had been far too easy.
An early second half goal didn’t come for Forest and sadly the game petered out. Wednesday put plenty of men behind the ball to professionally ensure we didn’t get a sniff. I didn’t stay until the end, I left at 70 minutes as a group of Forest lads were ‘taunting’ the Wednesday fans with ‘Super Boris Johnson’!
So where do Forest go from here?
I’m going to excuse the forward players to a certain degree because the managers set-up demands that we keep things tight. In conceding those two early goals, we completely ripped the game plan up. We did it at Millwall and we did against Boro.
If Forest are going to concede goals in that manner, then quite clearly, the game plan has to change. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb yesterday; it feels like it’s game over as soon as we concede.
What that new game plan looks like, I don’t know. Could Sabri be braver and go to a 4-4-2 like Wednesday did yesterday? We could but have we got the confidence in Rafa Mir and Lewis Grabban to bully defenders like Fletcher and Rhodes did us? I can’t see it. Do we have another option to bring in a striker if those two don’t work. Not really unless Young Alex Mighten is going to get a chance. He’s not the tallest though young Alex.
Do we abandon Ben Watson in the anchor role and put both full backs into more orthodox defending roles? It would suit Jack Robinson but not sure it would help Matty Cash. Carl Jenkinson seems to have gone missing in action so it’s not even that we could nudge Cash further up the pitch.
Do we go with a flat midfield combination in any two of Silva/Semedo/Watson/Bostock/Yates? Without Samba Sow available, it doesn’t look a particularly strong option to me. The next question then goes to playing a 10 in front of the pair? Would you put your house on either Carvalho or Joe Lolley getting to grips with things at this point in time? We are way off the pace for now. Maybe it’s an opportunity to bring Brennan Johnson in for a run of games. He’s done reasonably well when he’s been given a chance so far.
Only Sabri can solve this one for now but the curtain twitchers have started and the detractors are increasing. It doesn’t take much at Forest for this to take shape and if we don’t have a turnaround soon, we’ll find ourselves in the very familiar territory of wanting a change in manager.
What an afternoon. I can’t wait for my trip to Huddersfield next week!!!
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 2: Compete capitulation salvaged to a small degree by not conceding in the 2nd half.
SAMBA: 4 – Spectator for all four goals. Looks a different keeper at the moment.
CASH: 4 – Endeavour as usual. Big onus on him to produce the goods with others out of sorts.
ROBINSON: 3 – Really poor first half showing. Lost his temper by smashing the ball into the stands when the game stopped for a throw in.
DAWSON: 3 – Bullied.
WORALL: 3 – Bullied.
SILVA: 3 – Seemed to be sulking but certainly looked disinterested.
WATSON: 3 – One of the few trying to hold things together but played his part in the poorly conceded goals.
YATES: 4 – Ran about but was poor on the ball.
CARVALHO: 3 – Ran about but could not get into the game.
AMEOBI: 4 – Worst game I’ve seen him have this season.
GRABBAN: 4 – Really needed him to get hold of the ball but couldn’t do it. Not his game really.