Nottingham Forest blog: Festive football is now make or break for Forest’s season


The festive period is one of great joy. It mainly consists of pretty decorations, lots of presents – if you’re lucky, a glorified Sunday lunch and not forgetting copious amounts of alcohol.

One of my favourite things about being in the UK over Christmas is the feast of make-or-break football we tend to oversee.

Nottingham Forest currently sit on the brink of a crucial period of their season which sees the club play three games in eight days.

Stuart Pearce’s men are in wretched form having won just twice in the last 14 games and are now five points adrift of a play-off position.

The Reds three games over the festive period could be harder to be fair and it is important we take a decent points total from our two home fixtures either side of a trip to high-flying Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.

The last thing any fan wants to see is for it to get to February or March time and the season just peter out into mid-table obscurity.

If Forest’s form doesn’t improve drastically, then I am afraid, that is exactly where it will go.

Rewind a month to that Saturday afternoon at Molineux and in thrashing Wolves it looked as though we had seen the team turn the corner, we played free-flowing football, scored three goals with no reply and turned in arguably our best performance of the season – how wrong it appears we were about that corner being turned!

I worry that whenever we concede a goal first in a game we do not have a leader on the pitch that can rally the troops and get the lads heads firmly back on the task in hand.

On that basis it was refreshing this past week to hear that Jack Hobbs and Andy Reid have started running on the grass again and should be fit after Christmas.

As much as I rate Michael Mancienne as a player I am not convinced by him as a captain. I think whenever Hobbs or Reid are fit and ready to play that they should be taking the leadership responsibilities from Mancienne allowing the former Hamburg defender to concentrate on his defending – which by the way is usually pretty good.

I know it is the time to be happy and festive but I do feel the need to have a gripe at a certain section of our home support.

Hands up if you are one of the several people who proceed to boo when we retain possession by passing the ball backwards?

What does it achieve really? Are you really that naive to think that all successful teams only pass the ball forwards. If all teams did was pass forwards most games would finish with eight or nine goals in them.

A little tactic lesson for you boo-boys – and girls.

If a team comes to the City Ground to ‘park the bus’ then we need to have a plan B. Now, if we pass the ball backwards every now and again it means that the said team will have to come out from the back and try and win the ball from us i.e. press the ball. So, when they press our attacking players Anotinio, Burke, Ince, Lansbury, Assombalonga et al can then attack the pockets of space allowing us to be more effective going forward on a mini-counter whilst the opposition have players in front of the ball.

Anyone who thinks that the idea of booing at 0-0 because we do something that is part of the game in the 21st century is mindless and clearly has nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon.

Those people need to broaden their horizons and watch some much better sides than Forest and educate themselves on the game a bit.

Watch Bayern Munich, Chelsea or Real Madrid on YouTube and you will see that even with Xabi Alonso or Nemanja Matic as the ‘ball carrying’ midfielder there will still be a period when it is not possible to go forwards and a backwards – or sideways – pass will need to be made.

So, that’s my little gripe over and I have said it before and I will say it again that if we can get the City Ground rocking come Saturday afternoon and stick with the lads on the pitch for 90 minutes, we are a match for anyone in the league.

Turning the CG back into a fortress is going to be integral to our fortunes this season and hopefully the festive period can reignite our play-off push