You can’t beat Blackpool at this time of year’.
Saturday’s drubbing by the seaside served up a timely reminder to all associated with Nottingham Forest that there is an awful lot of hard work ahead in reaching this season’s objectives.
Having gotten ourselves out of the bottom three and recorded our first away win of the campaign on the South coast, the collective level of performance served up against Championship strugglers Blackpool was at best half-hearted.
Disappointingly, with the starting XI understandably changed after two previously unchanged line ups, the majority of those that pulled on the jersey at the weekend were simply not good enough. Not enough focus, not enough urgency and certainly not enough quality. Those that did play should know what is expected as a minimum.
It is a measure of how far we have come when Forest are grabbing headlines on Saturday’s national sports bulletins. Embarrassingly for us, it was completely for the wrong reasons. A year or two ago, 4-1 away defeats may not have come as much surprise but we are a different entity these days and that was my most alarming take away from the Bloomfield Road debacle.
There are no days off for Premier League clubs no matter what competition they are playing in. With over 3,000 travelling fans in fine voice, there are simply no excuses for what they were served up. There was certainly a sense of complacency about the performance which was severely punished by Michael Appleton’s men.
As an eternal optimist searching for scant positives, we created enough chances to have won 5-4. Billy Fewster made a steady debut but his teammates let him down in giving the youngster a day to forget, rather than to remember. A poor show from seasoned professionals alongside him.
For the opening 20 minutes, we looked like a side that had made eleven changes as we struggled for any cohesion. Lewis O’Brien was badly at fault for the opener and for a player that should be knocking on the manager’s door for a start, his header was so casually bad (with no orange shirt near him) that he’ll have lost a degree of trust with Steve Cooper.
Neco Williams had a torrid time at full back and was another player that blew his opportunity to show the manager what he can do against lower league opposition. Badly at fault for the second goal, Neco has had big boots to fill with Matty Cash and Djed Spence being outstanding in that position on the right hand side of defence. Having lost his place to Serge Aurier, it was a massive chance squandered by the Welshman to impress.
Sam Surridge probably had the worst afternoon of the lot in terms of output. Having been so clinical last season when given an opportunity, Sam missed three excellent chances that he may have done better with his eyes closed. Whether those misses were symptomatic of his Forest future seemingly hanging in the balance remains to be seen, but he was another that could have given Cooper a lot more to think about if he’d taken the match ball back on the coach to Nottingham.
It’s a cruel game at times. Sam will never have to worry about buying a pint in town after his exploits in the promotion campaign but as fans, we’re desperate to see him do well and carry that form on. He’s had to be patient and show that he can contribute off the bench once more this season. The opportunity missed yesterday pointed further towards that we will need reinforcements to be more clinical if we want to retain Premier League status.
A positive is that the January transfer window is open and that we can address squad deficiencies. Only a few from Saturday offered enough to suggest that they could be part of the survival plan if called upon. We are only a few injuries away from this and it will be of huge concern to the club hierarchy.
Thankfully there is a huge game coming up on Tuesday to forget about the FA Cup exit. It should act as a final warning. The expectations at Nottingham Forest have changed. Everyone associated with the club cannot shy away from that and I am sure that they will not. We have to respond with a massive month coming up on and off the pitch.
Stick together and hopefully the defeat will be an ‘important’ season blip.
*Article provided by Scott Eley (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC Forest were on the end of a thumping beside the seaside.