August 20, 2017 by notjustpumpkinbread
In all honesty, I don’t know where to begin…
Was I apprehensive about the game yesterday?
I suppose. But I’m looking at the bigger picture. If Britt was going to run riot and a recently relegated side – with players who have played at the highest domestic level – were going to roll us over, that would have been that.
Only an utterly abject performance would have riled me. You know. One of those performances where you think the players are happy with their lot and are quite prepared to be rolled over when they go a goal down; because they’re playing a team who have already beaten them in their head. We’re not like that.
That’s a big part of football.
Reacting to a poor performance.
Reacting to going one down.
Reacting to going one up!
Reacting to a tackle on the pitch.
We’ve experienced all of those things so far this season. And we’ve only played 5 competitive games.
But we’ve learned a hell of a lot about the Forest team of the 2017/18 season.
The Millwall and Brentford games could be seen as reactions to a poor performance. We were bullied for most of the 90 minutes against the land of the giants that is Millwall. We started poorly and were lucky to take 3 points. But we stood firm and reacted to our physical deficiencies when asked to do so.
That following away game at Brentford not only showed our determination to improve compared to the previous game, but also provided us with an idea of how we react as a team to conceding a goal.
Once again, we started poorly, conceded the first goal, but bounced straight back. We also showed how we react to having a 2 goal cushion; not particularly well, but were able to weather a storm (of sorts). And a fine win away from home it turned out to be. But a performance that left us under no illusions as to where we could improve.
Barnsley once again gave us an opportunity to see our team deal with going a goal down and despite playing some irresistible football at times, just couldn’t deal the coup-de-grâce required to finish them off. We were behind twice in that one, but played ourselves into the game when conceding early on and pressed again when conceding a second.
A great performance at Barnsley wasn’t enough to see us take any points, and the free-spending, runaway favourites for promotion were coming to the City Ground.
Which brings us to Middlesbrough.
Sharp intake of breath.
He scored a brace last weekend.
The planets were aligning.
Win, lose or draw, I wasn’t going to get too carried away. OK the win bit would allow me to lose my shit (temporarily), but you know what I mean. Pragmatism is key.
What we witnessed over 90 minutes was the culmination of how our Forest team will react, evolve and (hopefully) improve as the season progresses.
That we lost David Vaughan after 37 minutes was a bit of a blow to say the least. The cohesive element in that deep-lying central role, he was orchestrating things with aplomb. That we were already a goal up through Barrie McKay was just the beginning, quite frankly.
And what a goal. Slipped through with a sumptuous ball bisecting the defence from Kieran Dowell – who, by the way, is utterly rubbish Everton fans, so we’ll do you a favour and take him off your hands for, say, £250k – McKay showed his composure at close range, dragging the keeper wide and away and slotting home. Delirium!!
We were 16 minutes in at that point and Britt’s head had already gone! A minor 50/50 with The Mighty Bouch about 10 yards outside our area, saw the former Red square up to a disinterested Bouch. In that split-second we saw two things:
1) Britt realised that wasn’t the best thing to do, so a hug was the answer. A grand gesture for the crowd, while biting his lip and counting to ten.
2) Britt’s head had gone; and we were only about 6 minutes in.
What followed was a tempestuous and sometimes impetuous display, resulting in a performance that bore no fruit. Other than to stoke the ire of the Forest Faithful. Missed chances; niggles at those in the Garibaldi; a bare-faced shoulder charge on Jordan Smith. Semaphore to an issue he probably thought he could control. He started by clapping the travelling support from the handshake lineup and it went from there.
I’m not sorry he’s gone. It’s clear where his priorities lie. We’ll move on and improve. Let’s hope that some day, a striker with a prodigious goal-scoring talent like his will have a better understanding of his privileged position. In the meantime, we can just smile at such antics and be the better person.
Once again, like Barnsley, we played some good stuff in the first half. Getting an early goal, playing some nice football, sounds great doesn’t it? There were occasions when we came up against the opposition exerting pressure while we were in possession and we found ourselves pegged to a corner, trying to play our way out. We’re going to have to get used to that. It’s the Warburton way. Cool heads and clear decisions need to be made at those points in the game. It will come.
The Vaughan injury saw the introduction of Ben Brereton. I didn’t see that coming, but bringing Benny into the middle and putting BB out on the right was a good move. With the ball at his feet, Brereton just loves running at players; causing mayhem. How he managed to squeeze between two of them at one point was a mystery to me. The resulting panicky challenge led to a free kick just outside the box.
As for Benny, well he hooked up with the impressive Mighty Bouch. Our perennial utility player did a job in there and while he’s no obvious replacement for Vaughan, he certainly proved he’s up to any task chucked his way by MW.
A few more minor distribution issues with Smith – at one point towards the end of the first half I noticed a frustrated MW turn to the bench and say “He’s not making that pass” in the general direction of Jim Stewart – don’t outweigh the fact he’s still an outstanding shot-stopper; his overall game will improve.
All over the park – to a man – Forest were quality. As I mentioned in my Barnsley piece, I can see why we paid £2m for Daryl Murphy. He’s so strong on the ball, it’s like hearing Charlton Heston shouting “From my cold, dead hands!”
That was a soft penalty in the second half and a sucker punch for Middlesbrough, but you take what you’re given. And Murphy stepped forward to bury the all important second goal. They always looked like they might score, but our resolve and determination in the second half showed we can adjust our game as the need arises.
But I’ll save the best ’til last.
I love Joe Worrall and he had a great game too. But Good Golly Miss Molly; Mills was outstanding. Granted, there are still issues with finger-pointing; and he didn’t cover himself in glory defensively speaking at Barnsley; but to come out a give that sort of performance reiterates my earlier point about reactions. And he certainly wasn’t going to take any shit from Britt!
We deserved that win.
The players deserved that win.
The way we conducted ourselves in the face of impetuousness deserved that win.
Even after the whistle had blown there were some Middlesbrough staff mouthing off at the fourth official. That’s just a poor show and an indication of the cut of their jib as far as I’m concerned.
We’re playing the Forest way. On and off the pitch. We’ll play what’s in front of us and i’d like to think we’d walk away from confrontation. Let the opposition shout themselves into a mess with the officials.
We’re Nottingham Forest.
We play this game as it’s meant to be played.
We’re only going to get better.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!