I’m starting to get a nosebleed every time I have to check where Forest are in the table these days.
The very first blog I wrote for The Chad in September was a fairly modest affair, proclaiming we have many reasons to be optimistic, as long as we quietly go about our business.
Now, after going on a winning street that makes Barcelona look like the Nag’s Head 2nd XI, it seems we are beating the drum for promotion at a decibel-shattering volume.
Six games has made a season. Of course, it would be short-sighted to dismiss all the carefully laid foundations made by O’Driscoll - it is effectively his squad that are playing this well - but without the players being inspired by Davies, I doubt that we would be in control of our promotion aspirations with eight games to go.
At this current point, we are not obliged to worry about the permutations of other teams’ results, providing we are happy to just secure a play-off place.
The post-Hull delirium even had a few people contemplating a push for an automatic promotion spot.
We are the most in-form team in the league. We are picking up points when all around us are dropping them. So, are we really top-two material?
Not at the minute. However uplifting the last six games have been, Hull were the only side in the top half we faced.
Yes, we did ace the test when it came at us, but could this run be flattering to deceive a little? Four of our consecutive wins have come against teams reduced to 10 men (or less): Will the stronger sides make the same mistakes?
In realistic terms, we can’t keep winning. We will slip up, this is the Championship for goodness sakes... I wouldn’t be surprised if Blackpool came here, fielded four players and an actual tangerine, and hung on for a point. At times, we are in a league that would make more sense as a principle of ‘Chaos Theory’.... The prime example: A mid-table team plunged into anarchy by a managerial merry-go-roundsuddenly go fifth after seven unbeaten games.
It obviously feels uncomfortable pouring cold water onto our electric displays, but optimism has become the best friend of despair at this club.
We follow Forest in expectation most of the time - with genuine reasons to as well - only to be on the receiving end of the often ‘heroic’ opposition. I’ve seen many memorable games at the City Ground, without really seeing us come out on top.
So here we are again, with caution thrown well into the wind, and ready to expect rather than believe. The thing is though, Forest have never quite set the stage like this before. Our usual promotion campaigns have been outlined from the start. Yet thanks to Fawaz Al-Hasawi’s ‘ownership by hand grenade’ technique - which is now working inexplicably well - we have emerged from mediocrity in emphatic fashion.
At least, we are thoroughly settled: My claims that we have the best midfield in the league are starting to look rather credible, as each one of the fabulous four established in the diamond formation (Guedioura, Majewski, Reid and Lansbury) have become ‘complete’ midfielders, who score goals as easily as they thread passes through the needle’s eye.
Having Lewis McGugan in reserve, and Chris Cohen working with the midfield from left back, is an absolute blessing. Two of our current longest serving players have been utterly professional in dealing with unfamiliar roles...
Though one would think McGugan can’t be overly satisfied with the tag of ‘super-sub’. (I also doubt that ‘Ole McGuGan-er Solskjaer is a credible nickname).
Do not assume I’m blowing my own trumpet here though... This is the same writer who thought Lee Camp was integral to Forest’s future in October. Whoops. Boy, is my face red!
On this occasion, I am delighted to be proved wrong. Karl Darlow has taken to second-tier football like Lee Camp has taken to bench-warming. Karl’s wise head on young shoulders, and sparkling awareness of his defence and positioning belies his age.
His emergence, competence, and calm demeanour could be one of the most gratifying things about this season.
Any story of ‘local boy done good’ goes down well in everyone’s book.
As the season draws to a close, each game will become more important than the last. I for one am delighted we have Brighton next up.
Not just for the excitement of a difficult challenge, but for the fact we have seven games to claw back any points we could possibly drop.
Even so, scrambling for points as the games left to play evaporate would be a nerve-shredding experience...
Should we need to win our last game of the season, it won’t just be our midfield quartet ‘doing something’ through the eye of a needle.