words: David Marples
Take a relatively straight stick - perhaps a bamboo cane although it needn’t have to be - and stick it in some water. Notice the stick distort and seem to bend.
That can’t be right? It was straight. What happened to my straight stick?
You know that the stick hasn’t actually warped or developed a bend despite your senses strongly telling you that this is indeed the case.
Remove the stick from the water and check again. Result? Straight. Plunge stick into the water again. Bent.
(Throw stick away and mutter something about not being able to trust anything these days.)
In short, perception and our experience of the world around us is a tricky business, no more so when it comes to games of football.
For some, winning a game from two late corners despite ceding 69% possession at home to a team playing a brand of neat and tidy football is a worrying development, signifying a lack of a plan and an overreliance on set pieces. For others, it indicates a tried and trusted method of picking up results against opponents that will dominate the ball yet create little in the way of clear-cut chances; the approach being to let them play themselves out and exploit their weaknesses when it comes to heading and kicking the ball away from their own goal – something that Forest did admirably.
Swansea boss Graham Potter might well have been speaking about Championship football in general when he observed, "We did everything right apart from the last 10 minutes. We didn't defend two actions in the box and you come away losing” while Martin O’Neill would love to go and totally out-voetbalopposition off the park: "I don't want it to be a grind here, I want us to play and be able to sweep teams aside and at some stage or another during that time we will."
Regardless, the Forest manager knows that cats can be skinned in a bewildering array of methods but can be pretty pleased with his chosen style the morning after.
This game needn’t necessarily be a distillation of the playing style under O’Neill – we have witnessed an array of performances under his tenure: sometimes scoring freely and on the front foot while at others, sluggish and reactive rather than proactive. If anything, we have seen him cutting his cloth according to suit the circumstances.
Sometimes the stick is straight, sometimes the stick is bent and occasionally, a straight-bent stick is perfect for what you need.
Issue 11 is on sale from MSR newsagents or by clicking here.
We are now working on Issue 12 which will feature 3 (three) exclusive interviews with some fascinating Forest folks.
The plan is to have it with you for the final day of the season.