Nottingham Forest saw their season die out with a whimper on Saturday following a 2-1 defeat, against what can only be described as a very ordinary Bristol City side.
Forest forward Jamie Ward fired over in the third minute to suggest that the Robins were there for the taking and, when Ben Osborn put Forest in front on the half hour mark, there seemed only one winner.
Ward’s departure after 20 minutes was telling, with his replacement Tyler Walker completely ineffective once more.
Why, oh why, he didn’t throw Dexter Blackstock on I will never know. I appreciate that I might get some stick for suggesting the arrival of Blackstock, but if you noticed the size of the Robins’ central defenders, you will know why it would have made more sense to put the ex-QPR man on.
Bristol have an asset in Luke Freeman and once Ward had departed, Reds left-back Bojan Jokic was left all too exposed without the support of the ex-Derby man, who does a superb job of tracking back.
The Reds’ performance was abysmal and I have to say that given his post-match comments, I have no idea what game boss Dougie Freedman was watching.
The gaffer said that Forest had dominated the opening hour. If that is domination, then I dread to think what he classes as being dominated!
After Osborn’s goal, the Reds retreated deeper and deeper and seemed to stop doing the good stuff that had given them the lead. All credit to Osborn, because he never stopped trying to play the ‘right’ way.
Freedman also proceeded to withdraw David Vaughan on 68 minutes, despite another terrific performance from the Welshman. Just two minutes later, Aden Flint had put the Robins in front.
Why he persists on taking Vaughan off when games are on a knife edge is baffling. He is the Reds’ midfield maestro and was once again the best player on the park on Saturday.
Then we go back to Walker. I think it is fantastic that Forest are a club who are more than willing to give their youngster a go in the first-team, but the Reds’ striker simply isn’t ready for the Championship.
Any striker who goes one-on-one with an opposing goalkeeper and opts to turn back on himself rather than getting a shot away, is a clear sign of a striker desperately short on confidence and a loan spell would probably do the youngster the world of good.
Forest are struggling for goals but at this moment in time, giving Walker a run in the first-team could do more harm than good for the 19-year-old.
A lot of the ‘Dougie Out’ brigade reared their heads after the Reds’ third defeat on the trot and after a performance like Saturday it isn’t really difficult to comprehend their frustrations.
I refuse to jump on that bandwagon just yet, but quite simply the group of players the boss has at his disposal should not be losing to Bristol City.
Following Saturday it is difficult to reach out any sympathy to the boss as it was his negative ploy’s that contributed to the Forest defeat.
I appreciate that in some games you have to protect what you have and try and play on the counter but against the likes of Huddersfield and Bristol at home, you simply have to play on the front foot.
The sooner Freedman realises that, the better it will be for everyone.