Friday, 28 April 2017

Forest Five Asides: QPR, Marinakis, Mancienne, Lichaj, Villa

Starting a new blog format at the end of a season might not be the brightest idea I've ever had but, nevertheless, I'm doing it anyway. My new 'Five Asides' posts will aim to give a short, sharp views on five key talking points to fit between longer rants/posts. Well, that's the theory anyway.

Any comments, thoughts or suggestions are always welcome...

QPR and the ghost of Megson

The trip to Loftus Road tomorrow brings back bad memories of the last time we were relegated to League One. The 2-1 defeat in West London put the final nail in the coffin, confirming our pathetic demise. Worst of all, I went down to the game on a supporters' bus that had the BBC's Natalie Jackson among its passengers. It meant that we had to hang around in a car park while she conducted her post match interviews, leaving us to stew and fester for a while on the fact we'd fallen through the trap door before we could go home. It was grim. No-one was really in the mood for a 'looking forward to League One' vox pop on the way back either - it was time to pretend to sleep.

The fact that QPR is our penultimate game this season too isn't, of course, the only parallel with that last relegation under Gary Megson. The Derby home and away results were identical in 04/05, Rotherham also went down that year and it was also a season in which just two away wins were earned (those, like the two this season, were also both in the same week).

The positive thing is that we now have a better manager and a better team. The 04/05 lineup was: Gerrard, Curtis, Morgan, Taylor, Melville, Robertson, Evans, Powell, Gardner, Commons, Dobie. If we can stumble over the line, there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

The ghosts of 04/05, our record against Holloway teams (3 wins in 15) and the pitiful away form this season mean that I still can't rest easy when it comes to survival though.

Takeover talk as the Greeks wait in the wings

It seems that the takeover of the club is edging closer - although it also seems like we've been saying that for some time. Sky Sports today reported the fact that Fawaz is going to sell the club to Evangelos Marinakis but it's not really clear if this was based on anything that we didn't already know from other media outlets. ('Sky Sources' covers a multitude of sins doesn't it?) 

There are question marks over the Greek investor, of course, but the fact that he's run a club - and a big one at that - suggests that things should surely be better under him than the current regime. We've had a lot of false dawns, let's hope this isn't another. The club is at a crossroads - again. Survival and new ownership could give us a huge boost going into the summer but neither is certain.

Need to be convinced by Mancienne

I'll admit that I'm not exactly bowled over by the news of Michael Mancienne's new contract. I wouldn't have been at all bothered if we'd have let him go when his deal came to an end in the summer. He's got a great pedigree but I've been disappointed with his performances and always worry that we'll concede a goal from a cross when he's in the lineup. The fact that he's struggled to establish himself - even over a converted-to-centre-half Danny Fox - isn't a ringing endorsement either.

It is a positive, however, that he appears to have taken a pay cut (since he was rumoured to be on £25k a week or so) and it might well be the case that Warburton can get more out of him and utilise his talents in his style of play. One thing is for certain - we've got to stop messing about with him in midfield.

Eric The Red deserves the crown

While voting for the official 'player of the season' carries on until Wednesday, many supporters club branches seem to have opted for Eric Lichaj as their choice and the American will surely take the main crown too? It might seem odd to say that in a season in which our defensive record has been so poor but I do think Eric deserves the nod. He's been consistent, has given his all and provided leadership at times when things threatened to go off the rails. He looks like he loves to play for us, provides a decent attacking threat when given the chance and has even bagged a couple of goals. Frankly, we could with a couple more characters like him.

Who are the only other contenders? David Vaughan? Ben Osborn?

Let's hope the award isn't as much of a curse as it has been in recent times, though. Of those last five winners, Garath McCleary, Michail Antonio and Dorus de Vries all left pretty quickly, while Chris Cohen and Andy Reid both suffered serious injuries not long after earning the title.

Would Villa's fans rather they lost?

Aston Villa did us a decent favour by beating Birmingham on Sunday. Interestingly, having put their city rivals in the mire, they now travel to Blackburn to take on the team directly below the Blues. I wonder how many Villains actually want their side to lose tomorrow to pile more misery onto Harry Redknapp's men? For our sake, let's hope the team isn't 'on the beach' anyway (although it worries me that the influential Mile Jedinak looks set to be missing for them). The hope same goes for Huddersfield, who go into their game against Birmingham merely waiting for the play-offs to begin.

I really don't want a nerve-jangling last day and, while I appreciate that we need to pull our finger out and get the job done ourselves, any more favours will be more than gratefully accepted.

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