Those 3 home games were against a mixture of teams. Derby, fierce rivals and riding high, Reading in a bad run of form, culminating in the manager losing his job, and Fulham, relatively recently relegated, star players, but going through the motions. None of the teams were the strugglers in the division, which makes the next home game with MK Dons all the more intriguing. Many fans have already decided this is 3 points sewn up. If only things were so simple.
Before that comes a weird TV double header where we play on a Friday and a Monday. Both sides have laboured somewhat in November and it leads to them being just ahead of Forest in the table. Wolves have spoke of a Festive playoff push. Blackburn buoyed by being out of embargo remain mid table. Wolves had a bad November, struggling even at home against MK Dons. Blackburn only won once in the month also, meaning we are playing teams not bang in form. But neither can we expect them to roll over.
Should we get 3-4 points in this double header, we can take a lot of positivity to kick on in December, especially into the MK Dons game. Although in the lower half right now, put another 6-7 points on that tally in 3 games and we’d be likely up around 10-11th in the table. And in a clear run of form to take into the new year for a good run at the playoffs.
The switch to 4-4-2 has bought about a new run of form. Balance we seemed to lack before with strikers looking somewhat alienated. O’Grady works has a foil for Oliviera. Say what you like about goal-scoring records, he works hard for the team and creates so much by being strong and physical. His role isn’t so much to score, as to create chances and space.
The use of pace on the counter attack has also been an excellent weapon. Mendes tearing off after a corner runs through to try and set up the strikers is a joy to behold. In a less direct than when Antonio would bulldoze his way through, Mendes relies a little more on guile and skill to beat his man.
Taking what is admittedly limited form into these away games is a positive. The damage a couple of bad defeats could do is a worry. Confidence has been built, but that’s a fragile thing. But looked at another way, had we held on away at Brentford, we’d be four games unbeaten. More to the point is that we have had a couple of clean sheets. And that’s with a defence that has been varied.
Should we do very well in these two games the season takes on a new perspective. I think a certain amount of caution needs to be looked at though. These wins haven’t changed our position, but merely strengthened our mid table security. A bad finish to December could put us right back in the mix. They do always say don’t judge a League Table before Christmas. Well that’s looking increasingly the case with Forest. A month ago it looked bleak. Now it has the change to look a whole better.