The King is half undressed

4 Dec

Tuesday 3rd December 2013

Millwall               2.2          Nottingham Forest

(Morison, Woolford)      (Reid, Chalobah)

This game had it all: great goals, shocking defending, photographer bust-ups and allegations of racist abuse. And then there’s the fan revelation regarding his chat with the enigmatic Jim price. Wow. Where to start?

Well, the manager would be the obvious starting point. This game has provoked an awful lot of ruminating regarding King Billy’s #unfinishedbusiness and endless pontificating on how he is faring. Is this fair? Resoundingly, yes. But let’s be clear here; this is not a call for the big boot and resulting updates on bookies favourites for the hot seat. What this is though is what it is which all things being equal, remains what it is. Which is? No comment.

I don’t wish to rake over the doubts that many of us had regarding Mr Davies’ re-appointment as manager of our football club. On the field, he almost guarantees you a play-off spot. Off the field? Too much baggage to mention and we all know the issues. The thing is, he very possibly jumped the shark last night in his vociferous demand to know where the guy holding a camera on the side-lines originated from.  He was always going to be a liability from the toe-curling moment when he uttered the word ‘Clough’ in that tub-thumping message broadcast on the big screens just prior to the Bolton match to mark his first game as the returning messiah.

Let’s consider the football. We were poor last night. I mean, really poor. This happens once a in a while though: no matter how much preparation, attention to detail and quality of players at your disposal, sometimes it just doesn’t happen and you chalk it down to being a bad day since deep down, you know that there are far too many variables that go into sport; many beyond anyone’s control. It is a game played by humans who, to be honest, are not always entirely reliable. But let’s dwell on the ‘quality of players at your disposal’ for a moment shall we? Although this might sound arrogant to non-Forest fans, we have an awful lot quality in our squad. Reid, Lansbury, Wilson, Jara Reyes are all able to do a job in the league above. Perhaps just below that standard are Cox, Mackie, Cohen, Majewski, Lichaj, Hobbs, Chalobah, Halford. These guys are all what I would deem to be excellent Championship players. The rest? Darlow, Henderson, Paterson, Collins, Abdoun aren’t bad either! Admittedly, some of these are injured, which certainly doesn’t make a manager’s job any easier. However, injuries happen and although we are enduring some bad luck at the moment, every club does and they part and parcel of the game.  In short, there is a strong argument that this squad of players should be doing better than they currently are.

Maybe it’s just a bad run of form?

Maybe, but this bad run of form has been going on for a while now.

The case for the defence? There is certainly no shortage of goals in this team and the constant cries for us to sign a striker are becoming increasingly misplaced. We score enough goals. The actual defence? It’s a bit shonky at the moment but this happens when you have a very young goalkeeper and central defender in there. Throw in long term injuries to rocks like Cohen and Wilson and the odd error is going to happen. But having looked at specific departments, you have to take a step back and look at the big picture. For whatever reason, it isn’t functioning and if truth be told, it hasn’t been functioning for a while, despite the odd decent performance such as the ones against Leicester and Burnley.

There were times in the game last night when Millwall showed exactly why they were down near the foot of the table: they simply kept giving the ball back to us in their own half and allowing us to apply pressure; they were rubbish. (Please don’t tell any Millwall fan I wrote that. I mean, obviously they were better than us and fully deserved their draw but for a period in the second half, they really did seem to be on the verge of throwing it all away and a decent team would have punished them for it. But don’t tell anyone about what I said about Millwall being rubbish; I didn’t mean it like that. They can track you down these days with clever hackers and stuff and they’ll be at my door demanding to arrange a meeting with the erudite blogger in which he can either retract his comments or something will jolly well have to be done.) But I digress. For once. The issue is that Mr Davies has been playing a very dangerous game for a while now and it might just well be that he’s not quite as good as he thinks he is. Good, but not that good.

And as for the good name of Nottingham Forest Football Club and the damage to that fine institution by the comings, goings, bans, antics and general shenanigans…well, enough have been written about that already by persons finer and more knowledgeable than this humble fan. Us football fans are generally a fickle bunch who will just about tolerate most things as long as we win more than we lose. But it seems that, as Randall said in Monsters Inc, the winds of change are a blowing and the modern football fan has just about had it up to here with people playing hard and fast with our long established traditions: note the unrest at Hull City and Cardiff City. Although there is a degree of acceptance and pragmatism amongst fans regarding changes, most are far from happy and just wait and see what happens if/when top league status is lost.

The solution? I certainly don’t subscribe to the ‘wait until January and get some better players in’ school of thought. I think that we’ve got more than enough quality and have spent more than our fair share already. I know it seems radical but I’d like to see the management get a little more out of the current crop that we have.

In fact, on reflection, I don’t know much. But I do know that the answer isn’t Steve Cotterill though. Or Gary Megson. Or Joe Kinnear.

That much I do know.

But don’t tell Billy I wrote this. I don’t want him coming round to my place demanding to know where I’m from or who I’m with. I can’t deal with him AND the Millwall fans. One at a time, perhaps but not altogether.

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