As Nottingham Forest gear up to take what could be another vital step towards securing Championship safety tonight against Bristol City, Steve Cotterill has called for the backing of the fans to help lead the team to victory. For a team that has averaged around 21,737 at each home game this season, this seems like a strange request from the gaffer. However, if this seasons home results are anything to go by, I can see where the manager is coming from.
Forest have won only 2 of there last 10 games at The City Ground, and although this can in no way be completely blamed on the home support’s negativity – in what has been a season to forget, it certainly has not helped matters.
Casting my mind back to a mid-week game against Doncaster Rovers at The City Ground in early March, what initially was an optimistic crowd following a 1-2 win over Birmingham only a few days before, quickly turned to a hate filled one handing out a torrent of abuse when the team conceded a late goal before half time. There were select fans screaming at the manager telling him that he didn’t know what he was doing, one particular fan standing up and screaming “GET REIDY ON NOW” was a highlight, but the boos that rang out at half and full time did little to dispel the general consensus that the manager was out of his depth and not considered good enough to manage Nottingham Forest.
Funny how quick things can change in this dear old game isn’t it?
Following a spate of good results, including the 3-7 overhaul away from home against Leeds as well as the 0-3 victory over Crystal Palace just last weekend, Forest look to be in much better shape. This is thanks to a host of shrewd loan signings, in particular the midfield power-house Adlene Guedioura from Wolves, who has added a much needed steel and assurance to the middle of the park. But more importantly the revival and goals of current players Garath McCleary and Radoslaw Majewski - a feat which can only be attested to the superb man management of Steve Cotterill.
With leaders on the pitch in Andy Reid as well as Guedioura, and other creative players who can score a goal or two, Forest are now well equipped to battle and scrape results
Since the manager publically put his faith in McCleary, he has repaid him with 9 goals, 5 of those coming in that shock victory over Leeds. Cotterill has really worked wonders with a player who was in danger of never realising his full potential at the club - originally plucked from non-league Bromley by Forest manager at the time Colin Calderwood, McCleary was nothing more than a bit part player under following boss Billy Davies, though he showed flashes of brilliance in his 10 minute cameo’s from the bench, it was never thought he could be such an influential player, the only worry now is whether we can hold onto him at the end of the season.
Majewski’s return to form is also not to be ignored. For me, he is what I see as a luxury player for Forest. He is good creatively, and has been known to wield a fierce shot on goal – but if deployed in the wrong position, can get agitated, wreckless in the tackle and has a tendency to go missing. However, playing in a free role just behind Dexter Blackstock last Saturday at Selhurst Park, Majewski flourished, tearing the Palace defence apart in the second half, scoring all three goals and heading home with the match ball in an all important away win for Forest.
There are now several reasons to be positive about survival heading into tonight’s clash against Bristol City. A win tonight will see Forest 9 points clear of danger with 5 tough games left to play, but a loss will see the team dragged back to within 3 points of the relegation zone. With what will hopefully be an unchanged side from the game at Palace, Forest now have the togetherness that they’ve been sorely missing ever since Billy Davies left. With leaders on the pitch in Andy Reid as well as Guedioura, and other creative players who can score a goal or two, Forest are now well equipped to battle and scrape results, as hard fought draws at home to Brighton and away to Leicester have shown.
Confidence plays a massive part in the success of any team, but with both teams still scrapping it out for survival a win in front of the television cameras tonight, is likely to be no mean feat for Nottingham Forest.
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