Nottingham Forest play the blame game after Leicester City stroll

Maybe it was never a meaningless game after all. Leicester City’s 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest in their FA Cup third round replay last night somehow managed to provide a flashpoint in an encounter which both sides could have done without. Such was the pathetic performance put in by the visitors, which allowed Leicester’s players the time and space to destroy them. And at the other end of the pitch? Well…


In a way, you can’t blame Forest’s players for last night. They were gutless and ineffectual, but they could also point to a few factors which contributed to the disaster on show. Forest missed bodies in defence, with last season’s centre-back pairing of Wes Morgan and Luke Chambers both unavailable. However out-of-form they may be, they surely would have provided an improvement on the efforts of Joel Lynch and his makeshift defensive partner Guy Moussi. Lynch has arguably been Forest’s best player so far this season but he looked off-colour all night, either not fully fit or merely overwhelmed thanks to the efforts of his team-mates.

The midfield, a trio purchased by previous manager Steve McClaren, was alarmingly pedestrian. If anything, the displays of Jonathan Greening and George Boateng in particular must have had some Leicester players wondering how on earth they surrendered a two-goal lead at the City Ground back in August, when the pair both played a full 90 minutes. Perhaps the shame of that day hit home early on as they passed the ball around midfield with ease, giving the impetus to go on and win comfortably.

Again, it seems difficult to blame Greening and Boateng. They are not capable of playing with any greater pace than they did last night and should never be paired together in midfield. It was also strange not to see Radoslaw Majewski given an opportunity in the middle of the park. When a change was made to the midfield at half time, Cotterill introduced Lewis McGugan who possesses a bit more about him but, for whatever reason, looks unwilling to prove it at present. The manager’s post-match interview was unconvincing, but what can you say after failing to score for the eleventh time in thirteen games?

This game will be remembered for at least one thing and possibly two: Robbie Findley’s first-half miss when the hosts led through Boateng’s own goal and Jermaine Beckford’s hat-trick. While the latter could kickstart a misfiring centre-forward’s season, the former summed up Forest’s woes in front of goal in one fell swoop. It looked impossible to miss. Only one, almost vertical, angle could send the ball off target. Findley somehow managed it and his colleague Marlon Harewood was also profligate when a teasing low cross just needed a touch into the net from close range. These were the two chances Forest had to end their goal drought and they could barely have been more inviting. Forest now look a side waiting for the ball to come to rest in the stand rather than in the net. Goalkeeper Lee Camp feigned disbelief at Findley’s miss from the opposite goalmouth but he must be used to it by now.

So Nottingham Forest are a club in complete crisis on the pitch, with an owner who almost seems to have given up. The appointment of Steve Cotterill was, at best, questionable. But best doesn’t even come into it at the moment. It is now nearly three months since Forest scored against anyone other than Ipswich Town. They travel to West Ham United this weekend at their lowest ebb since the deplorable Gary Megson era and fans can be forgiven for fearing the worst of the trip to the capital.

Another side from the East Midlands sacked their manager prior to a visit to Upton Park this season. Despite last night’s result, Leicester have fared no better overall since ridding themselves of Sven-Goran Eriksson so the parallel is just that and not a lesson to be learned.

The question is clearly whether Forest can afford to sack Cotterill – and whether they can afford not to. If money wasn’t an issue, he surely would have gone by now. He says that no players will come into the club for financial reasons. So are Forest willing to put any cash towards paying off the ridiculously long contract they gave their current boss and sorting out a contract for a replacement? Are they big enough to admit that Billy Davies is now the most attractive option available? After all, there seems little reason for Neil Warnock to show an interest in replacing Cotterill.

After they face West Ham, Forest welcome Burnley to the City Ground before the short trip to Derby County on 5th February – two sides who have put nine past Camp already this season followed by one which triumphed in Nottingham with ten men. Painful reading, but if Forest can safely navigate those three fixtures they can look forward to a pair of games against two of the six sides they have already beaten in the current campaign – Watford and Middlesbrough. Whether Cotterill will still be around by then is another question.

The Seventy Two
The Seventy Two published an outstanding series of articles about the Football League between 2010-12 and was the brainchild of Leicester City fan, David Bevan. As well as collaborating with The Two Unfortunates on the Football League Blog Network and a mammoth 2011-12 season preview, the site featured a host of leading bloggers and David was rewarded with a nomination in the 2011 Football Supporters’ Federation awards. Latterly, he was joined as co-editor by Joe Harrison and TTU is happy to present this archive of the site’s output.

8 Comments

  1. Tommy
    January 18, 2012

    Just about summed it up there mate :-(

    Reply
  2. Mistrollingin
    January 18, 2012

    This goes much deeper than merely sacking the manager or not. There are fundamental problems at Forest and removing Cotterill, no matter how terrible he has been, on its own will make little difference. There needs to be change at the very top of the club. Doughty has made clear his disinterest and Chief Executive Mark Arthur remains pulling the strings despite years of poor performance and arrogant posturing. There is little point in changing manager again whilst those two remain.
    Also, Billy Davies is not the best option available. His game playing produced a situation where his position was untenable and not only would the lack of money now make him the wrong man with his need to spend but to return now would be to hand him the club such would be the weak hand of the board if they cow to him.
    There is a need for a complete change at Forest. The club needs to rediscover it’s personality. Of course, the problem is that the club has been for sale for a while now with no interest and any buyer would be faced short term with having to meet the obligations that Doughty committed us to over this past disastrous summer.
    It looks from last night’s performance like the players have given up, it is tempting to join them.
    Steve.

    Reply
    • theseventytwo
      January 18, 2012

      While changing the manager won’t solve everything, how long can this current form go on before there’s no other option?

      And a change at the top should probably wait until the summer when it won’t affect things on the field but then it can’t get much worse so maybe it may as well be now. Who knows?

      Regardless of the politics, Davies would get the majority of fans back onside and I can’t imagine even this Forest side would be relegated under him. If the bridges have been burned completely, then fair enough. It’s not even worth talking about in that case. I know it was an acrimonious exit – it was acrimonious for most of the time he was there from the sounds of it! – so I realise it isn’t as simple as Pearson going back to Leicester, for example.

      If one thing comes out of this from a wider perspective, then it’s the fact that managers can’t always be stereotyped based on one season or one club. Cotterill somehow had this reputation as a firefighter for not getting Portsmouth relegated last season. He did well there but it wasn’t some sort of miracle. They had players of genuine quality. It was an awful appointment for Forest and beggared belief at the time, let alone now.

      Reply
  3. Mistrollingin
    January 18, 2012

    Davies is not a long term option for any club and we really need a long term option. If he came back he would mobilise a large portion of the crowd but he would basically be untouchable and he is not the man we want dominating a re-building program. It isn’t even about staying up for me now, it is about the very fabric of the club, whatever league we are in. Things are so bad in fact that we probably need something ludicrously sentimental, unfortunately we have missed the boat on the best of those options.

    As for Cotterill we saw from his years at Burnley that he is basically a limited manager and that he was not a good fit for Forest in terms of the type of team he creates. It would be nice to know exactly who made the decision to appoint him because it was an awful decision which nearly all Forest fans opposed at the time.

    Despite that, there is a priority list for getting people out of this football club and Mark Arthur currently sits at the top.

    Reply
  4. John Bust
    January 18, 2012

    Agreeing with Mistrollingin, especially reguarding Mark Arthur. The sentimental appointment should be John Robertson, Liam O Kane and Chris Fairclough. Get rid of all the rest.

    Reply
  5. Nick
    January 19, 2012

    Mark Arthur has bene the problem all along. he nearly ruined Notts CCC and they have gone on to be Champions since he left. Forest have had limited success, due to Billy alone, whilst Arthur has been Doughtys puppet in stopping progress and doing nothing to keep fans on side, indeed he has threatened fans in public if they complain! Nothing will improve while he stays. Doughty says he is well respected in football circles, well he would be as he makes Forest a sure bet for most other clubs!

    Billy i sour hero and whatever anyone says, I was delighted to see him on ESPN last night, and he admits he has passion for the club, which is more than the owner and CEO have!

    Reply
  6. SteveM
    January 19, 2012

    I don’t think you can suggest Doughty doesn’t have passion for the club surely? He’s ploughed plenty in.

    I just don’t understand fans who expect owners to ruin themselves financially so their leisure pursuit will be successful.

    Reply
    • theseventytwo
      January 19, 2012

      Oh he definitely loves the club. It just seems from a lot of things I’ve read that he’s given up on things a bit. The fan protests around the time McClaren left appear to have hit him really hard.

      Reply

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