It's pretty difficult to pick holes in anything Dougie Freedman has done at Nottingham Forest so far. Six games, five wins, no defeats and it would've been a 100% record were it not for that utterly absurd 96th-minute equaliser by Blackpool. Those six games have seen 19 goals, the team look assured, everyone knows what they're doing, the defence seems more solid. Good times.
However, we have one bone to pick with Freedman - he said after the game that he thought the best goal in the 3-0 win over Reading was Matty Fryatt's.
Come on, Dougie. Let's not be contrary, now.
Other than that though, life is sweet under Freedman at present. Perhaps he is actually benefiting from the terrible form that came before him, which put Forest so far off the playoffs that we were actually half looking down the table rather than up it, meaning that there wasn't much pressure or expectation that we might achieve some sort of implausible promotion push, thus freeing the players a little. I dunno. That's one explanation as to why Forest are playing so well and not just winning, but winning rather handily as well.
Another, perhaps less pseudy theory is that Freedman is simply extolling the virtues of keeping things simple. Being relatively solid and taking chances isn't especially flashy but it's bloody effective, and that's basically what Forest have been for the last six games.
That said, if Reading - and specifically, deliciously, schadenfreudely, Simon Cox - could finish then this one could have been done and done at half-time. Forest started the game pretty well, Ben Osborn and Henri Lansbury cutting holes in the home defence and coming close a couple of times, but as the half progressed Reading got more and more into the game, dominating entirely by the half-hour mark and themselves slicing and dicing the defence they faced. Danny Fox's parents must not have told him spook stories about monsters or anything as a kid, but rather Garath McCleary. Rat on your Pop, and Garath McCleary will get you. If you ask Fox, he might tell you that he believes in God, but the only thing that scares him is Garath McCleary. McCleary showed these men of will what will really...well, you get the point.
However, despite this pant-removal by our former winger to our current left-back, Cox missed at least one stone-cold sitter, and generally looked utterly hapless as all of those around him in blue - teammates, supporters, probably even former (current?) John Madjeski beau Cilla Black - uttered a collective 'Oh for f...'. 'Simon Cox, he's one of our own' sang the home support. They appeared to think that was a good thing, too.
Forest sat deeper and deeper, with Michael Mancienne dropping further and further back from his theoretical midfield role in a 4-1-4-1 system, to the point that he often very nearly played as a third centre-back. But still, we reached the break level, a time to regroup, for Freedman to boot the anonymous Jamie Paterson into the bath and for Fox to change his shorts, surely by this stage an irretrievable shade of brown.
After said break, it was a team reborn, one who didn't so much create chances and take them, but conjure goals from thin air, three wonderful magic tricks where the Reading defence went from apparent security and serenity to picking the ball from their net without realising what just happened.
Benny Osborn was up first, picking up the ball a relatively harmless 30 yards from goal and swinging that majestic left boot, sending the ball arcing through the dreary Berkshire air and into the top corner. Goalkeeper Adam Federici stood still and watched the thing go past him, like a man watching the seagull who's just nicked his battered sausage fly off with his lunch in its beak. Baffled, annoyed, helpless.
Fryatt was next up, picking up a Michail Antonio pass and lollipopping past a Reading defender who reacted by simply lying down in his own penalty area, leaving Fryatt free to flick home. It was good, Dougie, sure...but come on.
And finally, Gary Gardner, ostensibly brought on to shore things up, pooh-poohing his given role to launch a third strike goalwards and over the line, via the crossbar, to get us all dancing like Ebby. Sort of.
So, a fine afternoon for all Forest fans, then. Well, all apart from the chap who rather unwisely bought a ticket for the home section and celebrated one of the goals rather enthusiastically, leading to a rather robust invitation to do one by the stewards and home fans. After his ejection, a number of lively Reading boyz dashed down the tunnel presumably to try and stick the boot into this rogue in much the same way as the Forest players had done to the home side, one of whom tripped up the stairs and displayed the majority of his rather capacious bottom as his trousers slipped down. It couldn't have been more perfect if 'Yakkety Sax' was playing over the PA.
At the time of writing, before Sunday's East Anglia derby, Forest are nine points off the playoffs with 12 games remaining. We hate to be the ones to say this...but it could happen, you know.