Nottingham Forest ended their losing streak with a goalless draw at Wigan, but it’s a result that has divided opinion among the supporters.
Personally, I would have settled for a point before kick-off and I’m not overly concerned that we only picked up a draw. Consider that we were recently dumped out of the FA Cup at the DW Stadium, and more importantly that we’ve never won away at Wigan Athletic. It’s a similar scenario to the defeat at Carrow Road a few weeks back, some venues seem impermeable.
I fully understand that hoodoos are there to be broken but tell that the supporters of Queens Park Rangers, who have never, ever seen their team win at the City Ground. Proof that it really does work both ways and that there is a weird mystique about our beautiful game.
The game itself wasn’t as poor as the recent FA Cup encounter but certainly won’t go down as a classic either. Emyr Huws saw his half chance clear the crossbar from close range before Britt Assombalonga blasted wide from the edge of the box at the opposite end. That followed some great link up play between himself and Ben Brereton; the pair seem to have a natural understanding of each other’s game.
Wigan were poor and I can see exactly why the majority of people said that they were there for the taking. Forest should well have put the game to bed in the second half, there were chances for Carayol, Worrall and the best of the game for Assombalonga. Eric Lichaj did brilliantly on the wing before crossing with the outside of his foot, Britt was centimetres away from heading home what surely would have been the winner. However, apart from those few chances, we too were poor for much of the encounter.
Gary Brazil and Jack Lester once again went 4-4-2 which is another talking point within its own right, some saying that it’s out dated whilst others beg to differ. One thing’s for sure, they aren’t afraid to make bold decisions. Mustapha Carayol has been reinstated following a string of positive performances from the bench of late but the deployment of Zach Clough is a strange one. Last week I pointed out that I couldn’t see the logic of pairing Osborn and Vaughan in the centre of the park. Despite the fact that Clough was in the starting line up, I was baffled by the decision to play him out wide. The obvious scenario for me personally would have been to play Osborn on the flank instead. Gary Brazil hasn’t ruled out trying a 4-4-2 formation in the future which is very interesting; could we accommodate Britt, Brereton and McCormack in the same team? Given that we are approaching the so-called business end of the season, it would be wise not to test out such theories unless forced to by virtue of injuries and suspensions.
A few of the guys in my supporter’s club quite rightly pointed out the fact that the sides below us have games in hand. Our destiny will be in our own hands because we have to play three of those sides within the next month. Whilst people said that Wigan away was a must win, I would say that the likes of Blackburn and Wolves at home are the matches that fit that billing. The other thing to remember is that it’s all good and well having games in hand, but you have do something that has eluded you all season, and win them.
Whatever your thoughts on the state of affairs regarding the playing side of things, there’s a real sense of Groundhog Day about it all. It seems to be the same every season, managers come and go whilst the team edges closer to the relegation zone and eventually stays up. It’s about as predictable as Arsenal’s continual mediocracy, another club that are being held back by just one man. In the Gunner’s case, it’s Arsene Wenger and at Forest it’s Fawaz Al-Hasawi. At this point I’m not going to make pre-planned excuses for a possible relegation, I’ve said all season that we have enough about us to at least retain Championship status.
Gary Brazil has contrasting records when it comes to home and away results, but if we can pick up away draws and home wins I think we’ll do it. For the remaining home games, we need as many in that famous old ground as possible. So, regardless of your distain for the owner, let’s get some bums on seats and make the City Ground a winning venue.