Monday, 17 October 2011

Goodbye Steve.....hello Steve

Forest don't like making it easy for us fans do they? Especially not for the occasional blogger wanting to put pen to paper (well, fingers to keys) about the latest happenings on Trentside.

With events moving faster than Usain Bolt I've had to ditch the following blog ideas in the same way Alan Partridge had his TV show ideas cast aide (Monkey Tennis and Cooking In Prison would have been great...).

I had wanted to discuss:
*what went wrong against the dirty stinking Sheep and why that was a bad omen for Schteve (lack of team spirit in case you're interested)
*why the Carling Cup should be scrapped
*why the Watford win was at last a step in the right direction but a predictably pitiful spectacle for the television cameras (seriously, who picked that??)
*why the Burnley defeat had a touch of the Megson about it
*why it was no surprise McClaren walked after the Birmingham farce
*my fears for the post-Doughty era
*thoughts on who should be the new manager (Sean O'Driscoll would've been a great choice for me...)

But alas all of those topics were superseded by the freshest 'big talking point' by the time I bothered to write this. Yes, it's the growing anger at those God-awful socks and the theory that it is their influence that has turned us into relegation contenders....

Actually, only joking, of course the main focus at the City Ground (although the socks must go!) is the arrival of Steve Cotterill into the hotseat.

I have to say I found the news of his appointment underwhelming. He's never really struck me as a master manager - more of a 'number two done good' at Burnley and Pompey and although he's been steadying the sinking Portsmouth ship he never really showed me a spark of inspiration that made me think he was worth chasing. Especially when cash was tight.

Still, Frank Clark (sadly minus tash) is back and has picked him. (Or is it that Mark Arthur picked him but wanted it to be announced by someone Forest fans trust?) I'm certainly prepared to give him a go and Notts County fans do talk highly of him. Although most of them are over 75 and say they're struggling with a wheelbarrow that no longer has its wheel (really ought to fix that chaps...).

There's no denying that Steve II has an awful lot of work to do. On Saturday I sat through the latest worryingly inept display by the not-so-Tricky Trees this season. Maybe the boys in red thought they had to match the soulless emptiness of the Ricoh Arena with a dire display that lacked any passion or spirit.

I felt we started the game relatively brightly and McGugan and Tudgay in particular looked lively but sadly their team mates faded around them and I saw little to suggest Gunter, Hill, Chambers, Greening, Derbyshire and Miller were doing much to impress the onlooking Cotterill. As time wore on we showed less and less quality on the ball and, of course, conceded an obvious headed goal from a deep cross - the goal against of choice for Forest away days. It's so predictable you don't know whether to laugh or cry.

I can't help thinking that the selection isn't helping at the moment. We had no wide midfielders on the pitch on Saturday - with Rob Kelly instead asking a reluctant Derbyshire and Miller to take striker-cum-winger roles that they seemed neither capable or interested in fulfilling. Steve needs to keep it as basic as possible to start with in my opinion. Not necessarily an 'old school' 442 but 'more round pegs in round holes' as Billy would say.

Ah Billy. I can't help but feel nostalgic for the ankle biting little Scot. He transformed us from a naive bunch of hard working individuals into a streetwise Championship outfit and fostered an 'us against the world' mentality that bred a real togetherness and tenacity that reflected the team's fiery boss. That's not the only way to create a strong morale I'm sure but Steve II needs to find his own way to knit together a dressing room of egos and undoubted individual talent into a team. Perhaps the club spotted something in his armoury that suggested he's the man to do just that? Lets hope so.

Since the start of the season McClaren and the players have talked after each game of 'putting poor performances behind us', 'starting the season from now', 'learning from our mistakes' and 'working hard to fix things'. Sadly this has proved to be all talk. They're the right words but they need to be meant and ring true before we move out of this slump.

No-one leaving the Ricoh on Saturday can be in any doubt that, as things stand, we are in for another relegation battle. We lost tamely to a very poor home side and weren't even close to the levels of organisation, effort and determination needed to compete at this level.

Steve McClaren's big failure seemed, to me at least, to be that he lost heart when he realised that the job wasn't going to pan out the way he hoped. He wanted wingers to play 'his way' and stellar signings to build on the framework of a decent side. When that didn't happen he struggled to fathom a 'plan B' and quickly went into a downward spiral of chopping and changing personnel and tactics and struggling to motivate the squad he was left to work with.

You'd hope that Cotterill will be fully aware of the task in hand and used to working on a shoestring. I'm sure the fans will back him (we're not as bad as some like to make out) and we all need to lower our expectations a little and give him the time he deserves.

We've had few false dawns already this season - here's to the Steve Cotterill era not being another...