Following the win against Watford and rise into the automatic promotion places, which pleasingly we retained after Cardiff defeated Swansea it seems to me there is one debate going on amongst Forest fans right now. The issue of whether we can get actually get promoted.
Now the simple fact is that we retain second spot in the league with games in hand on those around us. This of course could see go clear of said teams. So in essence it is ours to lose. Again. Because lets not forget we got ourselves into this position last year.
However, we hit that spot earlier, and it is easy to say with a worse squad. For one we have a left back this time. By the time we hit second last time we were about to lose Shorey. Now we are second with a left back we have till nearly the end of the season. By which time we will have two relatively easy games left against Scunthorpe and Palace. I say relatively, because as s the most often used cliche around the Championship is of course anyone can beat anyone,which is true, but if it truly were the case we would all have the same amount of points. By and large we beat worse teams, it's why we are second in the first place.
I say mostly it is a divisive issue because of the conversations I have have had with Forest fans versus conversations I have had with non Forest fans. The non Forest fans all seem to think we are going to do it. On various neutral podcasts or news reports they seem to suggest they think we look good to be joining QPR (who everyone agrees are shoe ins for promotion) in the Premier League.
Forest fans are torn. Many I have spoken to or have seen on various forums (I do occasionally check to see what 24-7 rivals are saying) simply do not agree with the sentiment that we are promotion bound come what may. The simple reason for this is that we have a more clued knowledge of what we have to do, we are more aware of how we can play, who we have to play and our relative injury worries. Therefore many Forest fans think we will slip up. We have three very hard away games to come (QPR, Leeds ,and Norwich) not to mention what is looking a very crucial tie v Cardiff at the City Ground. For these reasons alone quite a few are sceptical.
Then there are the injury worries. Moussi is out for a while, we lost Blackstock ages ago. Findley is also out for awhile. However, let us remind ourselves we have got to where we are without even needing Findley, and Blackstock has been out for a while now, and even despite his injury we have risen into a healthy spot. Moussi is a blow, no doubt. However, last season we got up quite high with a large number of people still undecided on the Frenchman. This season he seems to have won over those sceptics, but again, we did well last year when he was a lot more inconsistent, and we relied more on McKenna sitting in the midfield.
Ahhh there is an issue, McKenna. He also divides fans, with quite a few berating him at all opportunities. Yet he can make this difference. I could try and argue he is fresh this season, whereas at the end of last year it was obvious he was somewhat overused an jaded. And injured. The Lazarus-esque come back for the payoffs was all in vain. But it is now February, and although he was injured, he won't be tired, and is perfect to come in for the final pushes to come.
Last year there is no doubt we fell away and limped over the line. We had no left back, many of the team seemed tired, and were constantly being rested in the last few games. This saw us lack any consistency and therefore we struggled against teams we really should have beaten. This year, well there is still no strength in depth, the same players are going to be used a lot. Beyond the current midfield, with the rotation of McGugan and Majewski we don't have a Thornhill figure anymore if we really are desperate. The utility man Perch has gone (which many will argue helps our chances) so in essence we are no stronger. If Morgan or Gunter were to be injured we have no player of a similar quality to fill in. We start getting nearly round pegs in round holes. We do have Tudgay we didn't have, but he is more filling in Blackstocks role now.
A number of people on other forums I have seen have called into question the boards ambition, not bringing in this window those players we need to get us home. Billy himself was quoted as saying we can make play-offs but no more. Billy of course has to say this. To say yes we will go up and then not looks like failure on his behalf, and he is far to intelligent to put that much pressure on himself. Much safer to play down expectations. But then there is the issue of if we made those "stellar" signings. We'd be coasting? Well not necessarily. A lot of what we are built on is a very strong team ethic, with players who not only play well together, but get on well together. To bring in some new names could easily rock that boat. That being said I wouldn't say no to the likes of Pratley coming in.
The board, and the infamous Transfer Panel, which may or may not exist any more depending on who you believe seemed to not offer the requisite fees for players. Hell, they might not even have agreed to said signings. There are no guarantee's that these players wanted to come us. Halfway through the season does Pratley jump ship and risk seeing Swansea go up at our expense, and curse his decision, the same with Whittingham, or any other number of players we may have been after. The likes of these guys would like if they move sideways to a club in the same division wait until the summer and decide then.
Are we good enough? We are second by right. We aren't here because someone else has games in hand. We have earned our position, it is ours to lose. There are big games ahead. Cardiff you could argue have an easier run in (we thought we did last season than WBA) Swansea too, but Norwich have a few tricky games.
To doubt our chances is to doubt us in any one on one game against other teams. We have already shown we are capable of big away wins (Cardiff) and indeed, we no longer have appalling away form, we have the best home form in the division. And it doesn't all end if we lose to QPR on Sunday. We are still in a good position, with a strong team, hurt by last seasons end, who want to make amends. Make no mistake though, Cardiff feel the same way too.
A guy I spoke to in the pub simply said there is no way we will go up, it's Forest, we always screw it up. It is something that sits in the back of the mind. But we did look like we messed League One up only to leapfrog Doncaster, we have twice got ourselves back out of this division before in the last 15 years., We can do it again.