After the highs of the 7 points in 7 days of last week that we celebrated so highly on this blog and the forum attached to ourselves maybe we were always setting ourselves up for a fall.
The Millwall game on Saturday was nothing short of a disaster result wise. To concede 4 at home to a team that isn’t really a fore runner in the division could be seen as painful. To those who never saw the game especially. It always seems the way that this happens when we have a reduced admission price match and it was a Kids for a Quid game, so there we go.
However it overlooks the game did nearly tip the other way and could have easily seen us equalise when at 2-1 to Millwall. Indeed the third goal was a direct result of us pushing hard for that second goal and left ourselves open. Goal 4 was merely our heads had gone and made it easy to pick ourselves off.
This does not suggest we were the equal of Millwall on the day. They were the better side, but they weren’t that far better than us. We struggle against physical teams and we struggled against a Millwall team who were set up expertly by the ever wily Kenny Jackett. Darius Henderson and his ilk always case us trouble, and Millwall always seem to have this type of approach. Steve Morison made life difficult for us in the past, and so too did Darius, as he always did for Sheffield United.
When Billy Sharp equalised it looked likely that we might well go on and take Millwall, until the second half settled down. Millwall had taken a very good lead with a well taken goal, but as has been the case for many a year under many a manager we seemed unable to close them down and gave Trotter too much space to give Millwall the early lead.
Had we maybe took the momentum we had before half time into the second half this may have been a different game? Millwall came out the better of the two sides and made us pay with well taken goals and a superior match set up. But before the break we looked good. Looked like we’d taken the game by the scruff of the neck.
They stopped us playing our normal game and closed us down further up the field. Instead like many other teams who have allowed us space in our half, and to pass around defence and up through the midfield. Millwall never allowed that and forced us to start playing longer balls. By closing down the midfield and not letting us play through Gillett, it meant that Ward and Collins launched balls up toward Cohen. Cohen many a time didn’t win possession. This then led to Millwall gaining possession and then attacking us. This is where we essentially lost the game. Plan B wasn’t really a plan. Plan B was a panic. Plan B was a default. Plan A which had been the usual slow build up through the pitch failed. It shows shortcomings in our team. It shows a lack of complexity in our play to look for further options other than the good old default which we tried under Cotterill last year. That default which was for Morgan or Chambers to hump it long. And which saw us struggle.
So Tuesday night against Middlesbrough was a different animal but also had it’s frustrations. Make no mistake Middlesbrough are a very good team. They are one the better sides in the division and are able to play a good game. They are also on flying away form and riding high. This is a game last year we'd have had no expectation out of. This year we are looking at maybe being able to take these teams. Indicative of the improved expectations and the improved team. O’Driscoll spoke pre-match of them being our benchmark, the team we need to look to be.
And yet we equalled if not bettered Boro. We had the chances to win, and admittedly so did Boro. It was one of those games that were so equally poised it could easily have gone either way. Sharp hitting the post though was as close as we came.
The frustration though came from the fact that we took so long to try and change the side. Now maybe this shows a confidence from O'Driscoll that we would come good and get the goal. The XI that was on the field would come good and produce what was required, and they nearly did.
But to those of us in the stands it was frustrating because we made to thin what if? What had we made earlier changes; could they have got us the win? Had Lansbury been introduced for Reid and Guedioura, who was again below the very high standards he set last season been removed for McGugan had it been different. Well that’s the beauty of football, what could have been. But it did seem obvious to us that something had to give with the team. We need a variation to maybe see if they could give us something different, rather than give the 3 subs we did bring on 2 mins of normal time. Maybe introducing on 70 mins or so? Well as I say who knows, and in the grand scheme of things this wasn’t a bad result all told.
Had we won v Millwall we would easily have taken the Boro result. But the average Forest fan has a new sense of belief that we can do things we couldn’t before. The type of fan turning up for one game here or there that we get more of now get vocal with their displeasure that the one game they have chosen is not the game that we won. That’s an annoyance. People booed after drawing against a table topping team. That’s ridiculous. That is frustrating. Fans moaning at perfectly acceptable results. Yes booing after losing 4-1 at home to Millwall, that’s different. But as I tweeted post game the fans getting on the backs of the team during the game is really not helpful.
The new players have spoken about how the fans have helped and how they have been supportive. Well now they have this new element of fans that are quick to vocalise their unhappiness. Again this is football, and it’s an increasing facet at many clubs. The likes of blogs and forums that proliferated over the years have shown us that having a voice isn’t just the loudest fan on the terrace but anyone who wants to put views out there. But these come after the game. Tweets are largely read after the game. To start this during the game with catcalls from the crowd merely detract.
So all in all the week has shown a number of things and the title of the blog so far maybe doesn’t reflect the rest of what I have written. Where that comes in is that there is a certain amount of how this has shown where we are at. We are nearly there. And this week has shown that this is indicative of the season. Just after we do so well and get ourselves to the brink of joining the top teams, we have a slip; we pull up short and sit behind them. We are a work in progress so these games will happen, these results will occur. And it will be ironed out. As we progress more and more we will turn defeats to draws, draws to wins, and wins to routs. But for now it’s been a show of the season that each time we stand on that brink to get to the top, we fail. And that’s exactly where we are at. Nearly there, but not quite, not consistent enough, not quite good enough. But nearly there.