After losing 1-0 in the last minute to your local rivals, you could be forgiven for falling into a little bit of a slump. Nottingham Forest were the unfortunate club to suffer that fate last Tuesday, having been beaten 1-0 by a later than late, Jake Buxton header.
Having tasted the bitterness of defeat in such fashion to your local rivals, it’s of course easy to go away and feel sorry for yourself, it happens to teams all the time.
As far as Nottingham Forest are concerned however, reflecting too much on previous previous results isn’t going to help their plight too much. For the first time in years, Forest find themselves fighting off relegation through the combined circumstances of poor boardroom decisions, bad management and woeful dealings in the transfer market.
Having not been backed by the board, Steve McLaren had seen his vision undermined and as a result, McLaren’s Nottingham Forest struggled desperately. It’s widely acknowledged by Forest fans that McLaren is indeed a very good manager, though when no backing is received, it can be very hard for anybody to do a job, even Jose ‘I’ve spent billions on success with various teams’ Mourinho needs backing.
Now ex-Portsmouth manager Steve Cotterill has been the lucky man charged with ‘saving’ Nottingham Forest and took over a limited pool of players, low on confidence. It was no wonder that Forest didn’t get off to a flying start under Cotterill and some Forest fans moaned about Cotterill’s tactics coming ‘straight from the back of a van’.
That was an incredibly short-sighted view from Forest fans who just failed to realise that Cotterill was fighting against the tide, never once managing to take note of the utter struggle Cotterill would have faced going into a dressing room holding no confidence and even less in talent.
To Cotterill’s credit, he has managed some astute loan signings to help Nottingham Forest, such as Greg Cunningham from Manchester City as well as George Elokobi and Adlene Guediora from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Those signings represent Cotterill’s shrewd ability in the transfer market. When Cotterill was still at Portsmouth, he managed to acquire the signature of Norwegian international, Erik Huseklepp, (now at Birmingham City) who shone brightly for Portsmouth despite their struggles.
From twenty-seven available points in the last nine matches, Nottingham Forest have managed a total of fourteen points, which is the best run of form in the relegation zone.
For Nottingham Forest to take that form to Elland Road and become the first ever visiting team to put seven past Leeds United. When you take into consideration the teams Leeds United have faced down the years, having played in the Champions League and all that, it’s a phenomenal record to break and further demonstrates that Cotterill’s tactics do not indeed come from the back of a white van, but a gleaming Ferrari. Okay, there have been mistakes made on Cotterill’s part, but he’s needed to educate himself about his new side so throughout a period of experimentation, there will naturally be a lot of bad results.
Nottingham Forest have passed their settling in period under Cotterill and are looking to continue the recent progress made in the fight against relegation. this season was always about survival and building for next season, which is an objective currently being achieved.
From Leeds to Sheffield now, or S6 to be precise, where Sheffield Wednesday have been going all guns blazing under new manager, Dave Jones.
I was speaking to a Sheffield Wednesday fan the other day who said he’d read that throughout Dave Jones’ career, he’s ammassed a win percentage of 40%. Over a sixteen year career in management, having managed football league teams, that’s a fantastic stat to put on your CV. I haven’t bothered to actually chase up that stat, but wow, it certainly points to a very able manager at football league level. Jones did a great job at Cardiff City, despite their constant failings to get promoted, Jones did qualify himself as a quality manager long ago.
Whilst I think Dave Jones is a great manager and better than Gary Megson, Sheffield Wednesday’s previous manager, I still believe that sacking Gary Megson so close to the end of the season, was the wrong decision taken by Milan Mandaric, following a reported argument between the two after Wednesday’s away loss to Chesterfield Town.
Since Megson’s last match as manager, in which he defeated fierce rivals, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday have gone five matches unbeaten, winning three and drawing two, putting themselves in a very strong position as the football league season draws to a close. With eight matches left to go, Wednesday find themselves third, two points behind Sheffield United in second place.
A win last night would have seen Sheffield Wednesday level on points with United, but a battling Walsall managed to find themselves 2-1 up with just seconds left to play, when a Gary Madine strike earned Wednesday a draw, saving the undoing of Wednesday’s recent good work. In the grand scheme of things, Wednesday fans would have ripped your hand off to be level on games played and just two points behind second place, so not all is lost, though yes, ideally Sheffield Wednesday would this morning, be level on points with their local rivals. Just a few weeks ago, Sheffield United had a couple of games in hand over Wednesday and it looked as if United would put themselves out of sight and with it, second place, meaning Wednesday would have had no option but to compete in the play-offs.
On a personal note, I must say I don’t like the play-offs one bit. Okay, you get romantic stories such as Blackpool gaining promotion to the Premiership, but surely the team in third place is better qualified than a team in sixth place to qualify for Premiership football. For me, it should be the top three who get promoted, no first and second place, with an average team who have scraped sixth place allowed a shot at promotion.
Having digressed now, I have to ask, would Sheffield Wednesday have experienced a similar run of form post-Sheffield derby had Megson been in charge? It’s incredible what a derby day win does for a club and whilst it could be argued that Dave Jones has ‘worked wonders’, I would like to see what ‘wonders’ he’s performed. Having taken over a confident squad, full of quality for this level, is Jones just riding on Megson’s success in the Sheffield derby at the moment? I doubt that Jones has tinkered too much with what was a winning formula and with that, I do believe it was wrong to sack Megson, no matter how good a manager Dave Jones is.
We’ll see next season what ideas Dave Jones wishes to implement at S6, but for now, Sheffield Wednesday’s promotion would be Gary Megson’s success.
That’s your lot from me today, I’ll see you in the comments…