You’re nobody until you’ve suffered an existential crisis: until you’ve pondered at length the sheer dumb luck of your own existence, realised with crushing certainty that there is no God, there is no ultimate moral judgment, there is only the doomed human race and with that, you finally free yourself from the shackles of the human condition and embrace, with glee and delight, the notion that the future is unwritten.
This and other revelations are all well and good, and in general, to be applauded. Just don’t indulge in such deep thought whilst playing football. It doesn’t end well.
After an encouraging and hard earned point away at Watford in midweek, hopes were high coming into this game that Forest could bring back that winning feeling, especially against a Blackburn Rovers side that have been failing to pull up any trees away from home…until now. From the start, Rovers looked to be in a tree-pulling mood and started brightly in a game that ebbed and flowed like a rubber duck in a bath with one of those bubble-inducing machines. All very entertaining but a little troubling.
Midway through the first half, a tactical switch from 4-4-2 saw Chris Burke move inside and Matty Fryatt drift to the left making something like a 4-2-3-1 (or something like this: that’s the problem with such fluid and total football – difficult to keep tabs on formations. We spit in the eye of formations. Where we’re going, we don’t need formations.) This bore fruit and despite that early pressure from Rovers, Forest daubed their hands with plenty of that white powder that climbers and gymnasts use and got a secure foothold in the game. Britt Assombalonga invoked the spirit of Lars Bohinen in producing a delightful shot with the outside of the foot (none of that Rabona nonsense) which, after finding the base of the post, presented Fryatt with a tap in that even Harry Redknapp’s granny could score, but maybe not Darren Bent.
Half time. That should have been that. Forest would come back out, have a few hairy moments as Jordan Rhodes pressed for an equaliser until Michail Antonio would go on a mazy run of his, hit the byline and fire in a firmly hit cross from which Britt would double the lead. In the final minute, Dan Harding would cap off a promising run of form to strike an unstoppable excocet missile of a shot into the top corner. All would be well in the world and everything in its place.
But this failed to transpire.
Blackburn came forward, and kept coming forward, with purpose, and bells on (which should have alerted the Forest defence to their intentions but strangely didn’t). This all culminated in Alex Baptiste firing in from close range after much standing, admiring and flapping at the sight of a cross from the right. Baptiste himself decided to make an early claim for the Sam Vokes award, claimed by those nasty little men who make a point of celebrating in front of opposing fans. A pox on their houses.
The substitution of Fryatt for Henri Lansbury was not the pivotal moment for the collapse: pressure was building long before this. Fryatt looked knackered and Lansbury so nearly turned the game back in our favour but was denied by a point blank save from Jason Steele and the foot of the post. But the jig was up and despite a neat and tidy performance from David Vaughan, a momentary loss of possession resulted in penetration down the right flank and a hanging cross from which Rudi Gestede did what he does and converted with ease. Silence descended. Eeriness enveloped the City Ground. A collective bout of deep existential angst gripped the men in red. Now we’re all for philosophical reflection; after all, if it wasn’t for such deep reflection, the human race would not have got to the stage where it can actually recognise itself in a mirror. But a collective existential crisis is never a good thing. Not on a football pitch anyway. At worst, it leads to gaping holes in the defence and a chronic lack of tracking back from midfielders.
Jordan Rhodes, having read his Soren Kierkegaard and Bertrand Russell, was not going to stand by and watch much chin stroking and smoking of Gauloises by the Seine, so much loved by those French existentialists. He took advantage of Mancienne who for once seemed to be coming to terms with the futility of it all and scored a goal. Good for him. He and his team deserved it.
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It’s not getting any better. It’s been an ice age since that last victory against Fulham. Frustration and grumpiness are becoming constant bedfellows and frankly, it’s not very nice. Antonio had one of his ‘days’ today and for all his relentless running and effort, Britt was largely ineffective. This is particularly galling as unlike, say Ishmael Miller, there really is a quality player in there but for whatever reason, his full potential isn’t quite being maximised - painfully so during this wretched run. In a marginal league of tight margins where there is little margin for errors, Forest are still hanging around with the cool kids near the top, like a square geeky kid haranguing the streetwise ones who smoke and swear and wear skinny trousers rather than straight cut sensible ones.
But let’s not dwell in the pit of existential angst for much longer: let’s indulge in a collective bout of catharsis and revel in the fact that it could be worse. Firstly, there was a chap in the Trent End sporting a shirt with the immortal words, ‘R Djebbour’ on the back. Ouch. Secondly, it is highly unlikely that you are a Birmingham City or a Leeds United fan and this being the case, you should be grateful on this most blessed weekend. Finally, you do very much exist since you are certainly thinking right now as you read this. Exactly what you are thinking, I’d rather not speculate upon but given this state of affairs and remembering the immortal words of Rene Descartes, ‘I think therefore I am’, you almost certainly exist.
So well done on that. Good work.