Nottingham Forest’s record at Pride Park is shambolic. Since Derby County took residence there in 1997, Forest have played 15 fixtures there and won only twice. It gets worse. Forest have enjoyed being in the lead for only 43 minutes from approximately 1350 minutes. To put it another way, Forest have lead for only 3% of their time spent playing at Pride Park.
That’s rubbish, hurtful and enough to make you want to stick your fingers into sockets – switch turned on.
Nick Miller tweeted, “Matej Vydra has scored nine goals in eight games for three different clubs against Forest.” Everyone, including your cat, knew that Vydra was, of all the blokes in white shirts, quite likely to be the guy taking shots at the Forest goal and consequently would be worth keeping an eye on. Or let him have a free shot within 24 seconds of the game starting. Your choice really. Oh…you’ve gone for the latter option…
Admittedly, David Nugent’s goal early in the second half took a hefty chunk of wind out of the Forest sails yet hooking Barrie McKay for Jamie Ward seemed to leave the team utterly winded. The customary 60th minute substitutions also saw Zach Clough replacing Kieran Dowell with Jason Cummings making way for Tyler Walker 14 minutes later. Although McKay failed to convert Forest’s most presentable chance in the fist half, he was the player most likely to get in behind the Derby defence while Daryl Murphy continued to look isolated and Cummings laboured in the ‘young striker asked to do a job wide right in a kind of winger’s role but also track back’ position, yesterday vacated by Ben Brereton. Neither Walker nor Ward had played much of a part this season up until the moment they stepped on to the turf of their fierce rivals with their side two goals down. Predictably, they struggled to make much of an impact.
Of course, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t when it comes to the tricky task of making miracle substitutions and manager Mark Warburton would argue he did precisely what the team required by injecting some fresh impetus. However, the changes only served to disrupt the little rhythm the side had while heads were scratched and chins stroked at the sight of Walker being asked to step into the Brereton/Cummings graveyard slot. It was all a bit undignified.
*adopts very film trailer voiceover-man voice* ‘In a world in which Jose Mourinho packs his team with men the size of giants standing on the shoulders of fellow giants…’ *adopts very weak and feeble voice* ‘one man dares to be different and field a team of Lilliputians’.
Without wanting to stand on the same sideline as or share a sandwich with Gordon Strachan, the Forest midfield must surely be the smallest in the league. That’s not to say that we should be lumping it or prioritising size over talent, just to point out that when possession is lost in the middle of the park and we need to scrap in the engine room, the diminutive stature of the Forest midfield becomes increasingly noticeable.
Mark Warburton's team did play well for 49 minutes and 36 seconds (the time between the first and second goals) and this was ever so marginally better than the ‘performance’ at Pride Park last season. There is much to be applauded regarding the style of play being implemented; I just wish it were a little more effective right now. Danny Fox rather eruditely expressed the frustration felt by everyone of a red persuasion after the game: “I am disappointed for the lads, because we worked hard and played some nice stuff. They could not get near us at times. But nobody will care about that now, because they got the three points.”
To reiterate a point made in a previous post, chucking out the bathwater, baby, kitchen sink and whole plumbing system would only make things worse but even when we play reasonably well, we struggle to impose ourselves on the opposition and hurt them in the form of that old, hard currency of goals and points. Increasingly, one yearns for a formation that might coax the best from Ben Brereton and/or Jason Cummings.
Some Forest fans participated in the most odious chant towards Derby fans. It happened. It was loud, sustained and not just a small group of fans. It made me feel sick, embarrassed and angry. If that makes me a soppy do-gooder then so be it. If we’re going to lose, let’s lose with some dignity.
But for all these grumbles, just because we lost to Derby, doesn’t necessarily mean we have to sack a manager.