How would you describe life as a Forest fan at the moment?
It’s a bit like delving into a big box of Quality Street but without the little piece of card explaining what type of chocolate each one is - excitement at what could be, tempered by fear and trepidation of what might be.
The whole club was pulling in the same direction this time last year under Stuart Pearce. Everything was in position and in the right place - apart from results. Since then, despite a new manager bounce bigger than Steve Bruce’s shirt with the appointment of Dougie Freedman, things have calmed down to a general acceptance that this season is all about achieving the dizzying heights of mid table mediocrity.
Unless, of course, the new acquisitions and the large pool of young talent that we currently have come together in a magical fusion to jump start a charge to unadulterated glory.
We live in eternal hope.
What sort of impression has Dougie Freedman made since his appointment as manager?
He is the recipient of a fair bit of sympathy since under the stewardship of Fawaz al-Hasawi, not only is he operating with the sword of Damocles dangling above his head, held only with gossamer thin thread, but also under a transfer embargo. Despite such restrictions, he performed admirably by bringing in some exciting talent in the shape of Ryan Mendes, Nelson Olivieira, Jonny Williams, Daniel Pinillos and the slightly more seasoned Chris O’Grady.
Nonetheless, the fact is that despite encouraging performances of late, wins are still a rare commodity – especially at home as the club can boast only one win in nine games. Away from home, the team has been better though, tasting defeat only once in the opening round of games. Since then, two wins and two ‘very close oh so nearly’ wins denied only by late equalizers represents a very respectable return.
If Freedman is still in the managerial chair come the end of the season, he will have made an excellent impression.
Why do you think the team has struggled for goals this season?
Quite simple really – when the opportunity to put the ball inbetween the white stick type things, our players get all starry eyed and start pondering existentialist philosophy, thus severely denting the chances of converting the aforementioned opportunity into that most beautiful and pure of things – a goal.
We average seven shots per match but there is a lot of wastefulness here. On average, the team has required 19 attempts to score a goal, which is almost double the league’s average. (Stats courtesy of experimental361.com)
Nonetheless, recent acquisitions such as Mendes and Oliveira have already got themselves amongst the goals, which is highly encouraging.
How is Steve Cotterill remembered by Forest supporters?
Back in 2011-12, Cotterill steered the club away from a frightening plummet towards League 1 after the brief but traumatic Steve McClaren era and for this he deserves credit. But man, it was grim - akin to watching a crying and exhausted toddler trying to play the Victorian Cup and Ball game (or Kendama) in which you have to get the ball on a string into the cup. Under his stewardship, the team went an eye-popping nine games without scoring a goal…. a single goal. Such an achievement spurned the childish yet appropriate term ‘Steve Cotternil’.
Clearly struggling, Sean O’Driscoll (yes, that one) was appointed to Cotterill’s management team in January of 2012, after which fortunes took a gradual but significant upturn and Forest ended the season clear of the relegation zone - including a highly satisfactory trouncing of Leeds United 7-3 at Elland Road.
In short, it’s fair to say that O’Driscoll is generally credited as being the man who rescued the season – so much so that the club gave him Cotterill’s job come the season’s end after politely beckoning Steve towards the exit door. All of which proves that football is a rather confusing and incestuous business at times.
What do you expect from Friday’s game?
I expect Forest to romp to victory in a style reminiscent of the glory years between 1975 -1980 when the club performed miracles under the leadership of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor by playing exciting, dazzling and total football.
However, reality rarely meets expectations in this cold, hard existence of ours.
It is far more likely that Forest will be reasonably solid and compact by packing the midfield yet looking to attack down the flanks at every opportunity by utilizing both the attacking wide men and the full backs. Chances are that we might sneak a lead at some stage, only to be undone by a Simon Cox wonder goal from an offside position and for Cotterill to celebrate by charging down the touchline in Jose Mourinho style while tearing holes in his trousers at the knees.