Two goals from corners, an academy graduate making an impressive début in goal, and a timely first win under McLeish. It’s fair to say that this is the first time we’ve felt wholesome since Big ‘Eck’s arrival.
Peterborough had won four of their last five before Saturday’s encounter, and despite still languishing in the bottom three, no side that beats table-toppers Cardiff away from home can be taken lightly.
Forest were resilient, and more impressively, calm and professional after being pegged back. It is this sort of collectively maturity that will see us grow as a team.
I mention both the goals came from corner kicks; through the years, a sort of urban legend has permeated the core beliefs of the fans... We don’t score from them. As bizarre as it is, I remember the few occasions we have netted from such a dreaded set piece, to hear at least three or four nearby supporters sarcastically quip, in one paraphrased way or another, ‘bloody hell... From a corner!’
Something else us faithful reds strongly believe is that we are a Premier League team, trapped in a Championship team’s body. Regardless of achievement, performance, and seasonal progress, their is certainly a sense of entitlement from most Forest fans that we deserve to be at the top level of football year in, year out.
I agree, we have a history that no-one in the division can rival. Even the likes of Leeds, though dominant through the 1960s and 70s, have no European Cups to show for their most successful spell. However, what does history enable you to have? In a results business, no-one is going to keep your seat warm at the top table if you’ve been decidedly inconsistent for the last 20 years.
Accounting for the ‘Platt-astrophe’, occasional relegation scraps, three seasons in League One, and boardroom politics that make the coalition seem like a well-organised bunch, we are perhaps lucky to be a Championship side. Which is why consolidation was a must for this season.
As much as I would love promotion this year, I must concede that we are simply not ready for the step up. Before anyone sends a lynch mob to my North Lincolnshire abode, consider this...
First of all, this seemingly negative angle does not sit well with me, but maintaining a sense of perspective has to work both ways. Offering constructive criticism - alternate ideas that are factually correct - proves to be just as important as finding positives during turbulent times.
Our whole squad, the defence, midfield and attack, are still very lucid. We’re even going through a goalkeeping transition at the moment. This sort of instability in a team is tolerable, on the condition that you are aware a rebuilding job is going on. However, since we were abruptly told in December that this year is effectively a promotion charge, these inconsistencies are simply unsustainable.
It’s barely acceptable to paper over the cracks in this league, the most competitive in the world, but to expect a similar approach at an even higher level will expose the core weaknesses of a hastily assembled squad.
It may then be an idea that we could bring in more and more new players, to replace the allegedly under-performing ones. That would only breed the same teething problems we have had for all of this season, the same problems that went on to cost O’Driscoll his job... apparently. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t strengthen if promoted, but we would only be building on foundations that have yet to solidify.
I had a lot of faith in the ‘SOD’ approach, and this article isn’t about me still pining over him like an ex-partner that just cannot let go. I feel that we have lacked composure since the first game of the season, and that never got put right. Despite having one of the Championship’s stronger squads, our passing and movement, though sculpted in good intentions, seemed erratic and nervy, more often than not.
This is one of the reasons I was looking forward to a serene season this time around. A Forest team that could have played with no real pressure, and no lofty expectations, would have eventually found confidence in their ability to win consistently as a team. Now that weight of expectation has been unnecessary heaped onto them, those uncertainties won’t iron themselves out so smoothly.
If you achieve too much too soon, you will get found out just as quick. As nice as a one season, whistle-stop tour of the Premier League would be, is that really the sort of ambition we should have as Forest fans?
Maybe I’ve spent too long thinking about this. Worrying over a hypothetical, though joyously dizzying situation. I’d be the first to drink myself blind if we did go up this year, and there’d be no prouder man waving his Forest shirt above his head like a 90kg lunatic than yours truly. I just feel to achieve more than you perhaps deserve is a very hollow victory.
I certainly do not fear us being the Premier League’s next ‘Derby’. No one could be that bad again. Unless we take the step of appointing Paul Jewell, making Robbie Savage our skipper, and putting Roy Carroll in net. Makes you wonder how anyone would think those are the three things a team needs to do to stave off relegation. Mind-boggling.
It’s all in good fun, and I hope everyone is looking forward to Saturday. Anything can happen over 90 minutes, and we are most definitely due a win against them.