Life sometimes throws up difficult moments.
You’ve boiled the kettle, chucked the tea bags into the pot and are now in the position to make the final preparations for a lovely cup of tea. You could do with a teaspoon to apply a quick stir. Wait. A quick glance in the cutlery draw confirms your suspicions: none. They’re all in the dishwasher…and it’s already grumbling away. What to do? A tablespoon? It’ll have to do. Not perfect. Too cumbersome and lacking the dexterity of a nimble and suitable for purpose teaspoon.
So to Dougie Freedman’s striking options for today’s game. Nelson Oliveira’s season ending injury, Federico Macheda’s lack of availability, Jamie Ward’s strain, Dexter Blackstock’s current circumstances and Matty Fryatt’s continuing and to date, fantastically successful attempt to play hide and seek meant that there really was only one option. Step forward Chris O’Grady. Jorge Grant was deployed to play just off him.
In fairness, the team started well enough in an open and entertaining game. Grant looked confident and showed some lovely touches. Indeed, the crowd seemed to be right behind the team: applauding Ryan Mendes’ endless running, encouraging in their appreciation of Grant’s flicks and generally supportive.
But then it happened. Aiden McGeady eluded Eric Lichaj and finished confidently. It was only the 30th minute but that was it. Game over. Curtains. This Forest team were never going to score anyway.
The crowd turned. Everyone got angry. Even David Vaughan got some. Vaughan had lost possession in the build up to the opening goal. No more encouragement. No more appreciation for Vaughan being far and away the club’s outstanding and most consistent outfield player. The gloves were off. The frustration tolerance level had just exceeded the limit. It had gone to 11.
It didn’t get any better. Dorus de Vries did his usual thing – pulling off gravity defying saves whilst all the while wearing the facial expression of a man who has spent a lifetime cleaning out the family pet guinea pig’s hutch.
After the interval, Matt Mills gifted Gary Hooper a goal after dawdling with the ball in his own half. It wasn’t great and Mills was at fault. Remember when Luke Chambers casually yet entirely missed the ball against Birmingham City in Steve McClaren's last game? That.
In fairness to Mills though, Gary Gardner ran away while Chris O’Grady stood static and touch-tight to his marker up front while everyone else was out wide hugging the touchline. Consequently, no one bothered showing for the ball. It was all a bit present day Manchester United. That’s not meant as a compliment.
A bone was thrown Forest’s way as Barry Bannan went and got himself sent off, which was jolly well good of him since it provided a spark of hope for the home crowd. In reality though, it made no difference. By the end, the anger was everywhere. Even the announcement that there would be five minutes of added time got booed. In order to avoid the rush, the wise decision was to stay until the very bitter end.
Post match, Freedman explained his thinking when asked what more he could have done to put Sheffield Wednesday off their stride:
I tried to play young Jorge Grant off Chris O’Grady to make runs off him and try to attack. When you try to do that – have Ben Osborn one side and Ryan Mendes the other, you’re always going to be vulnerable to getting beat. I tried to be as offensive as I possibly can with the players at my disposal.
This is an intriguing observation. It infers that the line up was so attack minded that it would be very difficult to maintain a solid defensive presence. But it is difficult to see why playing a 4-2-3-1 makes a side vulnerable to conceding goals. Surely two defensive minded midfielders should be enough to protect a back four.
Freedman also stated that he was keen to get back to a more defensive minded line up for the rest of the season:
We need to make sure we play in a certain way that suits our team right now.
In truth though, it has not always been easy to spot the tactical evolution deployed over the last five, largely poor results. It has always been defensive minded – even throughout the 13 games undefeated.
As a result, Dougie Freedman got some. Sympathy for the hand he has been dealt appears to be in precious short supply.
As for the opponents, Wednesday were decent. Then again, they would be after losing at home to fellow South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United last week. It is worth noting too though that the Owls were without a win in their previous five games coming into this fixture.
Looking ahead, fun times lay in wait for the club like a particularly medieval bear trap. They travel to Hull City on Tuesday evening and then just the little matter of a game at Derby County. As it stands, this fixture looks entirely like living up to its reputation as a manager shredder with Darren Wassall currently feeling about as much love from Derby supporters as, er, Dougie Freedman from Forest supporters.
There can be only one.
Good news? There remain just two more Saturdays to be endured by a Forest home fixture.
Hang in there folks.