Amazing, isn’t it? A Forest manager, albeit interim, dares to break from the monotony of 4-2-3-1 and gets a vital win on the road. And with the possibility of Steve Cooper as the next permanent gaffer at the City Ground, who knows, we may finally be come a side that intends to win as opposed to one that goes out trying not to lose each week, satisfied with that mentality.
Last week I alluded to the insanity of regurgitating the same methods and mentality week in, week out season after season. Well, don’t take my word for it; Joe Lolley captioned a photo of himself celebrating the second goal, in which he played a huge part, by saying “Missed that feeling, freedom and expression.”
It’s not so much an attack on 4-2-3-1 because many sides deploy that system to good effect and with attacking prowess too. It’s more of an unpredictability mindset. I bet if you asked any manager who faced NFFC over the last four to five seasons they’d tell you that their approach to the contest was easy, like challenging a poker player whose cards were constantly in full view of the whole room.
Also, very worthy of note are the possession statistics, I’d be a classic fool to ignore the fact that Forest only had thirty percent of the ball during the entire contest last Saturday. So, it wasn’t exactly representative of Keegan’s Newcastle United before I proclaim that 3-4-3 is the holy grail. However, Steven Reid’s men looked very potent when they did have the ball in the final third, carving out decent efforts on goal when they ventured forward. It wasn’t that long ago that we’d almost gone three and a half hours without registering a solitary shot on target. There was just a hint of sarcasm in his voice when Ray Hennessey, a friend and lifelong NFFC supporter, suggested that he would seriously consider buying the “Forest shots on target DVD” upon its release!
Something else that I touched upon last week was the body language of the players, an indicator that I’ve always relied on in football. From the highlights of the game that I’ve seen, having sacrificed it due to commentary commitments at Mansfield Town, the men in the fluorescent yellow and orange appeared to have that extra spring in their step. This was personified by Brennan Johnson in particular as he turned on the afterburners to create Lewis Grabban’s stunning opener. Huge credit to Grabban also, his run and finish was outstanding. I’ve said it before and I shall do again, I stand by words as always, despite not being captain material in my opinion, his ability to score goals has never been in question. One hundred and fifty in his career to date says it all.
When Fawaz was in charge I often used the following phrase, “winning hides a multitude of sins.” Things at the club won’t change overnight because we finally won a match but at least we’re in a position to make a difference. The metaphorical effigies seem to have been temporarily extinguished, vitriol towards the scapegoated players has lessoned and a veneer of calm has emerged. A positive formation change, and a win have made life a little easier for all concerned. The jury’s still out for me; I’ll watch with real interest to see if the club will indeed morph into a more progressive and diplomatic place with the arrival of the new manager. You only have to look at what’s going on down the wrong end of the A52 to see how much worse things really could be!
Who knows, perhaps this was all a dream, and we’ll wake up to cautious optimism and 4-2-3-1 once more like the Bobby Ewing reincarnation of 1986! Hopefully, what we witnessed at the weekend was real and undeniable proof that he/she who dares, wins.
*Article provided by Steve Corry (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC Lewis Grabban celebrates scoring against Huddersfield Town.