First time blogger, for Forest 24-7 at least Andy Lumley gives us his thoughts on the season thus far.
Early season thoughts
So we are a few games into the new season and McLaren's tenure, what do we think? To start with let's remember we are 4 games in, not 40. I've been to both the home games and I have seen encouraging signs alongside some worrying signs as well. Against Barnsley we had some nice patches of play without looking like scoring. For 45 mins yesterday we never looked like scoring either (apart from Derbyshire's header, but as I say, never looked like scoring). Apparently McLaren saw something in the Derbyshire/McGoldrick partnership at Donny so wanted them to start together again. Now a partnership to me means working together. Derbyshire worked bloody hard in the first half, but at no point did they actually link like a partnership. So they were duly swapped at half time for Miller/Findley to have a crack. By the way - would Billy have been this bold with subs? As a striker myself (of no great quality) I always watch for movement and link-up play with interest. The difference in the second half was immediate and obvious. Every time either of the strikers went up for a header the other one was looking, watching and anticipating the flick. When it went in to feet, the other one was there supporting. This is what a partnership should be. Findley's volley was unlucky (from the Miller flick) and Miller showed his strength to get his shot away from a throw-in. Whether or not they will start together on Tuesday in the cup will be seen but I sincerely hope they start together against West Ham next Sunday. I think Derbyshire looks good and with Dexter on the mend I think we look ok up front now.
My biggest issue with McLaren has been the difference in our back 5. Last season we didn't score that many goals but I always felt confident in the defence. This year they look shaky and nervous. Camp has lost his boulshy swagger and maybe McLaren is asking Chambo to play too much instead of just be that solid defender, let's face it he's no Rio on the ball but I can never question his desire to block a shot and defend. Wes is still Wes. Camp doesn't seem at all comfortable with playing it out quickly and his accuracy hitting Gunts when its on has been poor. In fact i'm not sure many of the team seem comfortable with what is supposed to be happening. Formation wise 4-4-2 isn't really working. Greening and Boateng play SO deep that the gap up to the strikers is huge. So when we do hit a strikers feet there is nobody there to give the ball to and we lose it. Cue the change yesterday to the diamond. Not only did this bring Radi on (Who by the way Steve is one of the most creative players in the league) and even though he was out of position on the right of the diamond his vision and attacking play helped change the game. Couple this with McGugan (Who by the way Steve is one of the most creative players in the league) slipping in behind the front two and getting on the ball. We were helped by the dodgy ref, very dodgy sending off and ridiculous penalty but you can't think we would have got back in that game without changing the system and even more so the players on the pitch.
As usual the majority of fans worry me at Forest. If you look at the whole game I think Leicester had maybe 3 or 4 shots on goal. Both their goals came from our mistakes and were well taken but did they look like scoring any others? The boos were understandable to a point but its still so early in the season to worry. I just hope that we look less like its pre-season tinkering with personnel and systems and settle.
My XI for West Ham would be:
Gunts Chambo Wes Cohen
We'll wait and see.