words: David Marples
Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones.
For instance, resurrecting the theme tune from the TV series ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ (lyrics by Carl Sigman) as the team take the pitch. While it may not have the oooomph of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’, it is a song synonymous with the club and its identity. It’s ours and it’s good to hear it again on a Saturday afternoon in Nottingham.
Holding scarves up while belting out ‘Mull of Kintyre’ - that’s a simple but good idea too: simple but highly effective.
Attacking with two up front before a capacity crowd at the City Ground? In theory, an excellent idea.
The thinking here, as explained by Martin O’Neill after the game, was to get a few more bodies into the opposition penalty area and start on the front foot.
Sadly for the home team, such thinking didn’t factor in the confidence of the opposition who arrived at the City Ground having won their previous four games and were unbeaten in ten – a run stretching back to the end of November. (Oddly, this excellent run followed a run of four straight losses).
O’Neill said “I thought the payers would throw off the shackles here at home and go and play but like everything else, you have to earn the right to do that but Bristol City – who have been a fine side in this division for a couple of years – I thought that they took the sting out of the game and started to cause us a few problems.”
Indeed they did. If there were positives to be drawn from the first half, they centred around the makeshift defence remaining relatively resolute. While the oranges were being sliced in the dressing room and Bovril being consumed on concourses, the fact remained that Forest were still in the game despite an underwhelming performance with a defence cobbled together with buttons, chewing gum and a used Fairy Liquid container.
The second half saw an improvement of sorts as Forest built up a head of steam for fifteen minutes or so and created a few decent opportunities – but not quite one clear-cut one.
By O’Neill’s admission, the deployment of two strikers in tandem wasn’t as successful as he hoped and accepted that adaptation to a new formation in such a short space of time might have been a factor in the somewhat incoherent performance. “They’ve generally played with one up front most of the time and that (adapting to a new formation in a short space of time) is a difficult to do, particularly with only a couple of training sessions. We’ll have to really have a think about that if that’s the case.”
Ultimately though, the whole thing looked like a team in a bit of a sticky patch, a little dazed after a weird month and trying to implement a new system that seemed alien to them. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks: they’ve lost a manager, they were having to adapt to a new system. We will go back – maybe we’ll change things round again but I’ve got a little bit of time to work on a couple of things.”
Simple ideas executed well are beautiful things in an often bewildering world. Making them work in a short space of time – that’s the difficult bit.
Issue Eleven is with the printers and will be with you soon. We spoke to a former goalkeeper for The Reds with some fascinating stories to tell.
As usual, it is brimming with the usual long-form reads and stunning artwork.
In the meantime, you can still get your grubby little mitts on an exclusive, hand crafted Forest calendar here.