It appears at times there are only two ways it can go when we come up against a former player. They either play a blinder, or are so poor to be anonymous. Lewis McGugan skirted both those criteria this weekend.
Although the headlines will read the ex player came back to haunt us, in reality up till that point he’d be largely anonymous, and even after the goal he popped up with an effort that was well saved and then disappeared again.
It always feels like ex players score against us, or ex keepers will have a blinder etc. But is it really the case? Look at Barnsley away last season, we concede to a Marlon Harewood goal, but in reality he was pretty poor, spurning chances and generally getting mocked al game, in a nice friendly way. We knew his limitations especially since coming back to England, but remember how dangerous he could be.
Kris Commons often seems to have a mixed record against the fans who now so malign him, on the one hand that infamous cup game, scoring the late winner, and yet other occasions include him stooping to over celebrating a goal in the 5-2 drubbing like it actually mattered. The thing is we knew he’d score at least one.
So it was no real surprise when they got the free kick, and after I turned to a friend and said “well, he’s done nothing all game so watch this fly in” and it duly did, none of was really surprised. Fair play to McGugan who downplayed a celebration, I know if I’d have a section of support mocking and abusing me (as a number of Forest fans did, admittedly in equal measures got a good reception) I might be tempted to turn it back on them.
We have a couple of ex player likely playing against us on Saturday, who like Lewis may get a mixed reception. Grant Holt and James Perch are now at Wigan, and so that old curse could once again return. We have a good turnout apparently going up to the North west, so no doubt some of them will decide booing and chiding Holt will be the best course of action, whereas Perch would likely get good support from all, not realising that as often as it causes an awful performance (think Collymore returning with Liverpool) that it sometimes spurs them to better things.
At the end of the day I think abusing a player who generally played well and did anything near as much as Lewis did that abusing them is wrong. He didn’t make derogatory comments or suchlike. When it’s someone like Marlon King then fair play, they deserve all they get. Holt is a strange one as he clearly never feels he got the rub of the green at Forest, and has since gone on to bigger and better things with Norwich. Perch on the other hand came through our academy, put in a good few years and left for the Premier League. I for one won’t be booing either, not only because I think it’s unfair, but it just might be that spur to make either play better or rub it our face. Holt doesn’t have the connection Lewis, or Commons or Harewood had so might feel celebrating, Perch would likely not. Either way, it's hope they don’t have a good day.