Four From Two With Derby Date Ahead

So Chris Hughton has at least come in through the City Ground doors and stopped the rot. Points on the board in the Championship are precious, more important than performance, that said, two games in, some fans are already saying the ‘same old thing’.

It was like a broken record last night.. ‘Grabban rubbish’… ‘Yates terrible’….’Get Taylor On’… A lacklustre first half that followed what in fairness at Blackburn was a typical Sabri style ‘smash n grab’… Take Lolley’s late winner away on Saturday and it wasn’t much of an improvement in terms of ball retention, or attacking prowess, Sammy Ameobi perhaps the one most likely to unlock defences down simply to his awkwardness above all. At least there were positives. Yates played well, even if you don’t like him he did… McKenna looked every bit a good solid commanding defender for the level.

Optimism ahead of kick off at the City Ground was for the Reds to go out and comfortably beat a team that often punch above their weight by even being in the second tier of English football. Rotherham United were actually four places above Forest prior to kick off after a reasonable start to life following promotion. Paul Warne’s side were never going to roll over and let a two-time European winner boss them about, for 45 minutes they gave as good as they got. That after all is what the Championship is about… No easy games… No gimmies.

Nil Nil at half time and pretty drab for Reds fans watching through internet streams and red button options still unable to attend their home on the banks of the Trent due to covid-measures… Things got worse but perhaps for the better. Rotherham scored from a penalty that was rightfully given, thereafter it seemed Forest found their gear.

Chris Hughton said after “We had enough good chances to win two football matches” as Ryan Yates hit a bar, Joe Lolley hit a post, Lewis Grabban missed an open goal, after providing for Sammy Ameobi to tap home a leveller that was to in the end share the spoils at least.

A point gained but two points dropped? I’m sure Reds fans looking back would have taken four from Hughton’s first two games in charge as ‘progress’ ahead of the Derby date.

Next up is the biggest match in these parts, slightly surreal surroundings that it will be without fans, on a Friday night in empty darkness whilst we sit at home and watch agonisingly in fear of losing to our most hated rival.

Derby have started even worse than Forest this season and Wayne Rooney is absent-in-hiding, Manager Phillipe Cocu is hanging on by a shoe-lace. A defeat to the ‘enemy’ and no doubt he’ll go.

But this is no ‘gimmie’ either… As we know the Championship does not work like that.

What fans want, I understand is attractive, attacking, winning football… What they will get in reality under Chris Hughton is a solid side ready for the fight, unattractive largely but with ‘enough’ quality on the field in the players the club has to get the results needed in the league they are in.

Supporters too need to understand that ‘supporting’ means just that… It won’t often be great to watch, it never really works that way, especially being a Forest fan, but getting behind the team instead of simply shouting profanities at players through Twitter & Facebook, is a small gesture to say ‘you’re on the same side’.

Getting behind the team is a supporting issue that has too often fallen short, just as Managers, Owners and players have fallen short in the past too, the idea is to improve in all areas to take the club forward. After all it’s in ‘everybody’s best interest that this happens.

We may have learned in two games that ‘not much’ has changed under Chris Hughton, but he is a manager and motivator remember that can get results in this division, proven having done it elsewhere years gone past. He knows better than Dave C from Strelley, better than Claire F from Radford.

Whilst anyone who’s seen Brighton & Hove Albion (and to a degree Newcastle United) under Hughton play in the Premier League previously, will understand that the former Spurs full back isn’t the Irish Ruud Gullit wanting ‘sexy football’ for the old romantics as it really is not his way.

Instead 4-2-3-1 is probably here to stay, solid, dependable, with reliable players who fit the system and know each-others positions, it may not be ‘rock n roll’ football but for long periods of last season it was good enough to take Forest into the Playoff places, for Manager Chris Hughton, with a few tweaks (not many) needed, it could still be the formation to take the Reds to where they want to be.

It seems that Hughton has at least solidified the defensive make-up. If Toby can stick to his man at set plays the back-line looks strong, physical, with a bit of guile too. Ioannou already looks like a solid addition as does McKenna in particular. In midfield the ‘love affair’ with Yates continues and that tells me more about how the player is portrayed in doing a job for his team, than it does when Shelly T from Sherwood pipes up… Arter & Colback perhaps too similar? Sow too unreliable? Cafu… Dachirou? Who?

Next step is to get the strikers scoring goals. Grabban has had more shots than any other player in the division this season without scoring a goal, last season he had one of the best shot to goal ratios in the Championship… Funny how form catches you out. Is Taylor going to get given a chance? Maybe Friday offers the perfect opportunity.

In Anthony Knockaert the fans await a talented footballer’s debut, excited just like at Christmas, what better way to win the hearts than to start and score in the derby?

Expect nothing better than Saturday’s result, expect nothing better than Tuesday’s second half performance, but expect the side to be well up for the battle ahead. Four points from two isn’t bad? Seven points from three is better… Here’s hoping the Hughton reign can continue unbeaten as Forest hold on to that little trophy they own for a little longer yet.

604 days and counting…

*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).

*Main image @NFFC Sammy Ameobi scores against Rotherham.

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