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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Six-Ual Healing



I was saving the Bolton game to be included with this, so although the title deals with Huddersfield, the main crux is both matches. But what a difference a week makes. I was a sceptic on the instant power of a change in managership, but wow, a huge change in the team that has to be simply down to management.

What is obvious following to heartening performances is that McLeish was a failed experiment and the whole thing is a huge relief all round. What wasn’t as apparent was just how much of a relief it’d be to the players. The way we played last night, and I turned to my friend and commented as such, was like the Leeds game. Right before McLeish. So what it looked like he was doing in that month or so he had control was ruin the heart, the passion and the desire. Ok, you’d expect to see maybe a change in formation, maybe a slight mixing up of personnel. But to see complete differences in people’s style, it’s remarkable.

The Bolton game saw us be more creative and makes chances galore. I initially thought the midfield set up looked all wrong, with no real defensively minded player in there to mop up, but Guedioura covered and when he got forward Lansbury or Reid or someone would cover.

We fully deserved the lead against Bolton when it came, and it genuinely felt like there could be only one winner. It was a good finish by Reid but more than that it was a quality move which he finished with aplomb into the bottom corner.

It was the old enemy though for us. Possession given away to easily and a cross with a simple finish. That goal has been conceded too many times this season, which means teams are doing their homework on us. Notably too it’s how we conceded against Huddersfield, and should have on more than one occasion as well.

Team v. Bolton

But what has changed in the belief and the drive. Under McLeish, and some games under O’Driscoll we’d have wilted, like we did against Watford. But no, in both games we didn’t allow that to happen, and although there wasn’t the time to sort it out v Bolton, though there were chances, against Huddersfield, we simply dusted off and got back at them.

And this is why I refer to the healing. It’s been like exorcism, of the previous month’s ghost. I’m not sure of the varying approaches but Billy seems to be able to coach his player’s minds. Whereas McLeish was probably drilling players on field matters and not much else, Billy gets in their heads, and makes them know they can do what they. Some say he gets that extra 10-15% out of them, but I think it’s more getting their ability out of them, whilst McLeish simple sapped their wills so they under performed.

Team v. Huddersfield


Moving on to the Huddersfield game, where simply to begin. Not only is this a sense of healing for the players, but what a galvanising shot in the arm for support is that. On a night with reduced entry prices bringing a bumper crowd, we impressed. This could see many of those come back, giving the support a boost in numbers. We usually with bigger crowds limp out in games. The crowd starts to turn quickly and there’s a bad blood, but even when we went behind it wasn’t an angry atmosphere, like we may have had under McLeish or Cotterill a year ago. No, this support waited. And got their rewards. Though the celebrations for the first goal felt kind of muted. Like half the fans were expecting the goal to be disallowed or suchlike, or just relief we hadn’t collapsed and died after going behind.

I have to say that when we 1-0 down, I was worried. I’d been running late for the game, coupled with the fact it was reduced admission which we always seem to lose. Mull of Kintyre went wrong in the build up, when the recording jumped into fast forward. All ominous signs.

There has been mixed comment on the array of scorers, with some very happy to see a whole team performance and the goals coming from midfield. Remember when we nearly made it last time under Billy, goals rained in from midfield, especially by McGugan, so to see a similar scenario now is good news. The team nature of some goals too was pleasing. Majewski’s second goal was a nice today move, culminating in a good finish. His third was just a great strike from range. Going back a moment too, Wards header from a set piece was also good to see us using set plays well, and getting the big centre halves scoring, like we used to do with Chambers, Lynch and Morgan. And those worried that the strikers have been mis firing lately.

On a personal level I was pleased for Lansbury’s goal. Not only to cap his best performances in red. But also because I have backed him to be a good player. His Arsenal pedigree and his previous promotion gaining experience made me think he’d be signing of the summer. Up till now he has disappointed, but now the fact I got him on my home shirt is starting to look justified. Davies seems to like Henri, and it was notable that Davies singled his goal celebration out and they had a personal moment together to celebrate that.

Finally, big Darius scoring helps. I’d like to have seen Cox get his goals scoring boots on again, but for Henderson to open his account with us been also important. I can see him being a late impact sub at home, and being used as a big strong target away, much liked Billy used Dele Adebola for.

All in all, very very positive movement from Forest. Not the 6 points some wanted, but still a massive stride in the right direction, and with some results going our way, the 6 points haven’t been as necessary. We are back in contention just about, and with a strong solid run, like Billy’s sides can go on, we might well be in the mix come May, which 2 weeks was frankly unthinkable.

It seems we are back to those heady days of Boxing Day. Via a very dodgy turbulent 6 week period where everything about the club was thrown into question and where we started to wonder what we were really in for. Exciting times ahead and all aboard the Billy Train. I for one am an unexpected willing passenger.

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