Putting everything aside for a moment, that was a cracking game of football last night with both teams going at each other hammer and tongs and, generally speaking, focusing on the football rather than maintaining personal vendettas. We'll get to the nitty gritty soon, but it was an entertaining affair, wasn't it?
I can understand why you feel that way, because Forest did very well and the ref was determined to allow the game to flow, even if that meant turning a blind eye to some dubious tackles. I guess the first half probably wasn't bad for the neutral, but I was deeply disappointed with the second half, in which Derby created almost nothing.
The result was a personal triumph for Dougie Freedman and has I'm sure bought him at least a few weeks' grace. The question now is whether he can inspire his team to give such a high level of endeavour week in, week out, or whether the 'cup final' spirit with which they played was a one-off.
Our game plan seems to have been to press at the right times, in the right places and then get forward on the counter attack. It worked a treat and we managed to keep you at arm's length with Dorus De Vries largely untested. How did you see your performance?
I think my dad probably summed Derby up perfectly:
"No guts or bollocks, arrogant and sloppy, only one team wanted it. Out-fought, out-worked, other than back four. That was rubbish and not acceptable!"
I very much hope that Paul Clement told them exactly the same after the match. Certainly whatever he said at half-time made no difference on this occasion and Forest went into the last twenty minutes with their tails up, rather than finding themselves under the cosh.
I did an audio commentary of the game and my 'co-commentator' Trev said at half-time that Derby needed to "get into this game instead of trying to play their own", by which he meant they were playing too slowly, taking too many touches of the ball in midfield and expecting to be granted the time and space to thread 'Hollywood' passes through the middle of the back four (plus two sitting midfielders). Clement said something pretty similar after the match, criticising the players for both the lack of tempo and their tendency to over-elaborate.
The only mitigation I can offer is that Derby put a lot of work into a battling win against QPR on Tuesday and maybe that effort caught up with some of them. Perhaps the international break comes at a good time as far as Derby are concerned, because this looked like a game too far for some of them.
Who or what impressed you about our performance? Got to be honest, apart from David Vaughan, Daniel Pinillos and Eric Lichaj, there were a lot of 'best individual performances so far' out there.
Most of all, the defensive discipline shown to frustrate Derby. Forest made 28 interceptions (25 in their own half), 25 clearances (18 from within the penalty box), 12 blocks and 34 successful challenges. They were clearly under instructions to, in Trev's words, "hoof it long, wait for Derby to mess it up and then try to counter attack' (this impression is confirmed by the game stats). Forest defended like their lives depended on it - it was an exceptional 'away performance' from the home side, who worked relentlessly right until the end.
I thought Oliveira looked useful and showed good technique. Ben Osborn did a superb job of haranguing Cyrus Christie into irrelevance after he came off the bench. I also thought Forest got away with some bad tackles, the worst being Pinillos' cowardly lunge through the back of Johnny Russell at the start of the second half - how on earth the officials missed that is beyond me (Trev suggested maybe Pinillos plays with 31 on his back because that is his number of victims). Roughing Derby up was part of the game plan and Forest executed it very well.
It makes no sense that Forest are where they are, on the evidence of that performance, but as you say, many of them played out of their skins on the night and they clearly haven't been doing that for the rest of the season. I also wonder whether the fans would be pleased to see the team playing exclusively counter-attacking football at home in any Championship games apart from this one.
You shouldn't be, but are you concerned about the implications of this defeat?
Defeats in these games can never simply be shrugged off, but... Fifth in the table, only the second loss of the season, only 11 goals conceded all season. Confidence was extremely high coming into the game, so it was a genuine shock when the players failed to turn up on the night.
Everyone will just be desperate to move past that performance and result with a win against Cardiff. However, that fixture comes at the start of a run of games in which we'll learn a lot more about how good the team really is - after Cardiff (7th), we have Hull City away (top), Sheffield Wednesday away (9th) and Brighton at home (2nd). That will be a very testing, physically demanding run and they will have to perform 100 per cent better than they did at the City Ground to get results in any of those matches.