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Will Nottingham Forest last the distance?

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Paul Fletcher | 20:17 UK time, Saturday, 6 February 2010

At the City Ground.

Like a sprinter that has given too much over the first 70 metres, Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies is fearful that his team will run out of steam over the final 12 weeks of the Championship season.

He is concerned they will become tired and jaded and there was evidence of that at a misty City Ground as Forest were fortunate to clinch a 2-1 victory over an Owls side rejuvenated under Alan Irvine.

In Forest's defence, they showed the character and determination to find a winner after Wednesday had deservedly equalised with 17 minutes left - but the bold and stylish football that saw Forest demolish promotion rivals WBA 3-1 at the Hawthorns and thrash QPR 5-0 in January was largely absent.

Davies might rate the hundreds of letters and emails he has received from supporters praising the quality and vim of Forest's football as a personal highlight of the campaign so far, but if his side are to finish the season celebrating promotion to the Premier League I suspect there will be a lot more afternoons of scrappy, sleeves-rolled-up football over the coming weeks.

It is a point that is not missed on the 45-year-old manager.

Nottingham Forest's Dexter Blackstock celebrates scoring the winning goal against Sheffield Wednesday

The Forest boss is worried that his squad lack experience. They do have skipper Paul McKenna knitting everything together from the centre of midfield but they otherwise lack what Davies described as "hairy-arsed" players.

The 45-year-old pointed towards club greats such as John McGovern and explained how they understood that playing 'the Forest way' is not an absolute and unbreakable principle. The suggestion is that the great Brian Clough teams could tough it out when necessary.

The defeat at Derby last weekend is a point in case, with Davies arguing: "When we face this type of physical game our young side must be mature and handle what is thrown at it."

Davies rarely talks about his squad without emphasising how young it is and listening to him can at times brings to mind a politician who wants to tell you all about his new policy.

After the victory against Wednesday, Davies attended the post-match media conference and batted off a few questions about the game before getting a few things off his chest.

Firstly, he had dropped talented Pole Radoslaw Majewski because, after watching him in training on Friday, he felt the loanee's head was "not in the right place". This, explained Davies, was because the deal to sign him permanently was dragging on.

Secondly, the manager claimed that the left-back situation is very troubling because he is currently trying to fit square pegs into a round hole. This is because the club failed to sign loan player Nicky Shorey in January.

Shorey has now joined Fulham and Davies reckons that not having a natural left-footed player of attacking type in that position has impacted on his side's style of play.

I agree that left-back is a real issue but the reason that Davies was making the point about Majewski and Shorey is because he is not in charge of transfers at Forest - that is the job of the transfer acquisitions panel, which is headed by David Pleat and acts upon suggestions by the manager.

Davies recommended several different players in three separate positions but the transfer window closed without anyone arriving at the City Ground. When asked whether he would change the set-up at the club he observed that he knew when he came to the club that he was just a "hired hand".

It is clearly a matter of great frustration to the feisty Scot, who cut through my attempts to find out how close Forest had come to signing anyone by declaring: "We failed. That is the bottom line.

"Our competitors have added to the depth of their squads - that tells us the intent they have."

And so Forest went into Saturday's match against Wednesday with a squad of 21, leaving Davies to conclude: "We are still playing catch-up and miles behind other clubs with regard to squad size and depth."

Injuries or suspensions to key players could yet derail Forest but they do not lack quality. Their bench on Saturday comprised Paul Anderson, Lewis McGugan, Dele Adebola, David McGoldrick, Luke Chambers, Paul Smith and Majewski; a range of attacking options that would be the envy of many a manager.

I asked Davies what he could do to keep his squad fresh. "Nothing," was his immediate response, although the brevity of his answered hinted at his frustration with the transfer situation rather than a genuine belief that he is powerless in this matter.

The truth is that Davies will do absolutely everything he can to haul his squad to the end of the season. It is part of the manager's short-term strategy, which involves working as hard as he can on a week-to-week basis to drag every ounce possible out of his squad.

The success of this strategy to date is threatening to undermine his long-term plan, which Davies has willingly shared with anyone who will listen all season long.

"I still think to win promotion is one step too early, to do it in two or three steps is far better in my experience," said the Scot, who has clearly been deeply scarred by his tenure at Derby, where he was sacked 14 games into their 2007-08 Premier League season after defying the odds to win promotion the previous campaign.

"I still don't think it is right for this club to get promoted too early, I think [this season] is too early."

Davies is a fascinating and complex character: feisty, belligerent and committed. He is often at the centre of story and, like a squall far out at sea, is often unpredictable and underestimated only by the foolhardy.

He seems to thrive on adversity (his programme notes on Saturday contained the line that "any attempts to destabilise the club will be met with a deadly determination"), yet he cannot watch his team take a penalty, instead staring at his shoes. He is a mass of contradictions.

Sometimes I think that he is his own worst enemy.

For example, the build-up to the game against Wednesday had been dominated by his decision to make a formal complaint to the League Managers Association and the Football Association against Rams boss Nigel Clough after the latter's alleged kick during a melee at the end of their game. I don't know anyone who doesn't think Davies would be better served dropping the entire issue, although the thought does cross my mind that he might be trying to shield his players from the spotlight.

But there is no doubt that he is a brilliant Championship manager. He reached the play-off final at Preston, won it at Derby and has quickly built a team at Forest that I think can last the distance despite the aforementioned issues.

His side are just one point behind West Brom in second place and 10 points ahead of Cardiff and Swansea in fourth and fifth respectively.

Irvine seems inclined to agree, noting after Saturday's game: "Billy has got Forest playing very well and I think they have a terrific chance of automatic promotion."

Forest started a run of five games in 15 days against Wednesday - and by the end of that we should have a much better idea of which position they are likely to cross the finishing line in.

You can follow me throughout the season at twitter.com/Paul__Fletcher

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Forest look extremely good for automatic promotion and whilst i understand Davies' concern that they could go up too early; surely everyone, even he wouln't say no to the Premier League?!

  • Comment number 2.

    Many supporters get a bit carried away when there team is in an automatic promotion spot or top 3 of the table. But if we look at Leeds United that is exactly why we shouldn't be saying anything too early.

    Nottingham Forest are a extremely bright, young squad with tons of talent and to have one of there youngest prospects Chris Cohen in the regular line-up it makes me feel proud that he has come from my club Yeovil Town.

    I would back Forest all the way to automatic promotion with Newcastle and hope they do as it would be great to see them back in the Prem after so many years.

    But its good Billy Davies is playing down some talks because he isn't getting too carried away with it all because sooner or later supporters are going to have a change of thought with there team changing results.

    All the best Forest, we beat you in play-offs but you certainly are a future team for the Prem. :)

  • Comment number 3.

    Good article Paul. Billy Davies is the best thing to happen to Forest in 10 seasons. I often think he gets a raw deal from the media in that they always portray him as somewhat prickly - and I don't think that is always a fair reflection. From his local media interviews, and those through the club's own website, he is (nearly) always smiling and lively. He's a straight talker for sure, but that also means honest.
    In terms of the question put, who knows? At the start of the season few Forest supporters would be believed that we would be where we are now. Staying there is possible, but we missed out on Shorey and that is a big loss. Our attacking play relies heavily on the input of both fullbacks and it's not as fluent with a right footer at left back.
    Much has been made of Forest's spending last summer, but it's all relative - and it was like Billy said to play catch up with our contemporaries. I think I'm right in saying that Forest remain the club to have used fewer than any other in the Championship this season.
    There is still a long way to go, but as the league draws out the positions are starting to take real shape. Forest have the quality to take one of the top 2 places, but if they fall short it won't be the end of the world. Billy will get to do the two step thing.

  • Comment number 4.

    A fantastic article on one of the teams of the season. The Premier League may get all the plaudits in the papers, but the Championship; barring Newcastle, who've been top most of the season and are looking likely to win the Division, Nottingham Forest have been fantastic.

    I see where Billy Davies is coming from. They do have a small, young squad, but it's a 46 game season, and the last thing he wants from the youngsters is for their head to be swayed towards thoughts of the Premier League. I disagree with being Promoted too early, it's a myth, what players learn in a season of dog-fights against relegation is surely a better experience than pushing for Promotion again? In the PL they'll face more talented players. That's no disrespect to any of the other leagues, but it's the country's top League after all :-)

    Another highly talented Scottish Manager showing his worth in the English Leagues, I sincerely hope that Billy Davies is wrong, and Forest do get promoted. Forest are one of this country's "Sleeping Giants" and it's time for them to wake from their dormant state.

    I look forward to seeing Forest in the Premier League next season . . .

    *Celtic Fan, not Forest!*

  • Comment number 5.

    I think Billy Davies is a man who likes to get on with the business of football as he sees fit, and there is plenty of evidence to show that when he is allowed to do so, things go well where ever he has been, Just as Alex Ferguson and the Late Great Brian Clough operatate (True Gaffers), could you see either of them being happy with a Jim Henson creation like David Pleat holding the reigns on building the squad they needed to get the Job done ?? Nuff said

  • Comment number 6.

    Just to add to that (so not Nuff said)It was clear by Billy's body language in the dug out he was not a happy bunny at all today throughout the whole match, and it did not have anything to do with the teams performance on the pitch.

  • Comment number 7.

    I hope they get the second spot, good luck to West Brom but they're too much of a yoyo team and I want to see someone else earn it.

  • Comment number 8.

    i think nottingham will finish second behind chelsea. they cant win the premier league title with their agressive but cheeky and rather sensational style of play. I don't agree with the fact that they have signed anelka. Hey by the way this is the ballsio speaking and all who read must be sure to know that I've never been wrong about sport.

  • Comment number 9.

    Cheers for the article, Paul.

    Whatever the outcome of this season, promotion or no promotion, I am extremely proud of the way our players have gone about their business under King Billy. No matter what happens, I feel very positive about the future of this football club while it's in the hands of someone as capable as Billy Davies.

    It's just nice to have the spotlight on the club for something positive, as 3 years in League One and a near-miss relegation struggle last season often made it seem like being a Forest fan was a hiding to nothing.
    Just nice to have people talking about the club, the team and the way they play their football. Billy Davies is working true wonders here.

    COYR!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just out of interest, how old is Billy Davies?

  • Comment number 12.

    Great article, Paul. Billy Davies has done a sensational job to get Forest into such a promising position after the disappointments of recent years. He made some great signings last summer and has got Forest playing an attractive passing game that Cloughie would have been proud of. Not just that, there is a steely determination about this team. The fact that they can grind out results when not at their best, as v Sheffield Wednesday, is all to their credit and augurs well for the rest of the season.
    The transfer situation - the fact Davies was unable to sign three players in the window - is a worry. It brings back memories of the Paul Hart years when Hart was given no money at all to buy players, and after reaching the play-offs in 2002-03, the team was sold off over the next two seasons. Surprise, surprise, we found ourselves in League One in 2005. To be fair, the comparison is not entirely accurate as Davies did make major signings last summer, but still, it is a concern.

  • Comment number 13.

    Really good article Paul. Obviously we don't know yet if we will finish in one of the automatic promotion spots but after last season, we only hoped for a top 10 consolidation. The fact that we have had such a fantastic season so far has just raised expectation as it always does in football. Forest have had a wretched last few years and Billy Davies has done a wonderful job so far, not least keeping us up last season. However, he will be the first to tell us it's a job that's far from finished. We need to get rid of this dreadful acquisitions panel and give him all the support we can. Let him manage! Promotion can come too soon and in our case maybe it is too soon, but not one of us would say no to it, including Billy.

  • Comment number 14.

    Having watched a shoe-string Forest side batter Man City last season and yet get a drumming away at Burnley, I can't thank Billy Davies enough for his service as manaager. And yet I feel our inactivity in the market may well prove our undoing with so many games remaining. Shrewd signings such as Anderson and Majewski have been revelations, but I'm worried they won't see us through, and the Championship is so wide open we might not be nearly as prolific next year.
    The signs are good after (seemingly) scraping past a rejuvenated Wednesday side today, I just hope Billy continues to show his magic touch for a few months to come!....

  • Comment number 15.

    Radosław Majewski is a key player for Nottingham Forest now, and will be for Polish Team in the Future. Check it out please: - How boys from NF played with or without him...?
    Greetings from Kabaty Forest :)
    Jan

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Billy Davies is doing a great job at forest but whilst i don,t agree with the role the accusitions panel play at the club, would forest have got their men if Billy was in full charge of buying. Two of the players we were after chose premiership clubs (Shorey - Fulham + Moses - Wigan)+ Swansea rejected a reported bid of £1.75 million for Darren Pratley. Everyone at the club wanted to see new faces but as a club we are not in a position to be held ransom by inflated prices in the transfer window. Our squad is thin in numbers compared to other teams in this division but not quality which is the reason Billy has been to rotate his squad so well and we (touch wood) have been able to stay relatively injury free.

    Keep up the good work Billy + don't be so downbeat!!

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    What a load of ballsio!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Do you find my name amusing "rockhardboobydeniro" because I'm sure that this would not be the case if you had before heard of the stunning ballsio who reigns supreme over sport. I would suggest that you stop commenting on the great ballsio and instead talk about sport, the subject of this blog and the true passion of Master Ballsio

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's been a very interesting season so far and I jsut can't see where it's going to end up. I certainly won't be down in the dumps should we not achieve promotion this season, but it is hard to not have risen expectations having seen the way we can play this season - from holding on to the 1-0 win against Newcastle, the 3-2 Derby win, to the 5 goals against Leicester and QPR.

    We really needed a left-back, Shorey or otherwise. I think getting publicly involved with Moses was a mistake, because he was never going to come to a Championship side and I think that has only risen some fan's expectations further too.

    It's a cliche, but Forest fans need to stop being so negative (ones I've heard anyway) and 'be the 12th man'. I think some forget the past 10 seasons - we've lost 1 game in 21. That's a stunning record. I feel sorry for my brother's generation; this is the best he's seen since Paul Hart and I was only 12 myself when we were last in Europe.

    Keep the faith and all that.

  • Comment number 24.

    At the very, very least, they'll surely be in the play-offs.

    What if they do go up? I think Davies is enough of a pragmatist to implicitly assume relegation, budget on that assumption, and use any top-flight campaign in 2010/11 essentially as a learning experience and financial boost for his current squad.

    Then, with the extra TV money from 2010/11 and the parachute payments from 2011/12, he can build a sustainable Premier League team (probably buying players sold off by desperately indebted 'big' clubs).

  • Comment number 25.

    After what happened at Derby - where he was effectively sacked for being too successful the previous season - you can understand his fears for being promoted too early.

    When a team gets into the EPL it tends to becomes the priority to stay there, rather than accepting the likelihood of relegation, and that places huge amounts of pressure on the team, the manager and usually the clubs finances as they scrabble for players capable of keeping them up.

    Derby simply were not ready for promotion, and the stats for them in 07/08 season speak for themselves. I suspect Forest would have something similar occur.

    Far better they miss out this season, keep building the squad and give it depth so when they do go up they can hold their own.

  • Comment number 26.

    Great Article. The difference between Billy's own comments and his reported comments to me is that you miss out his incredible positivity about his players and the opportunities ahead.
    I hope the frustration about the window doesnt eclipse that. He walks a fine line between playing down expectations and creating unwarranted doubts in the team in my view. We know we have a small squad and young, but mentioning it every week may come to play on their minds - they have to go into every game believing we have enough quality to beat the opposition.
    We've beaten the top two, and 2 of the 3 other teams in the top 6 for goodness sake, and most of the 19 games unbeaten and 10 months unbeaten away was done without Nicky Shorey.
    Whilst he has said he didnt want to get any loan signings, and we dont want a 'tino asprilla' situation where we upset a well performing team, I do think if the right person is available we should add a couple. After all, Dex, Ando, & Campy all came that route.
    Finally - to be frank we need 75 points to be sure of the playoffs - which is 20 points from our last 17 games i.e. better than bottom 6 form.
    Would we have taken being here at the start of the season? Totally. Would we have believed people would be getting disappointed at failing to hit automatic? Nonsense.
    Billy is an absolute magician, and the decision to go for him rather than non-league nigel turns out to have been inspired.


  • Comment number 27.

    howard ballsy lives in a dream world! 2nd behind Chelsea? Anelka? Are u even a football fan? Seriously though people, lets keep the faith and remember where we were when Billy came along and look where we are now. Promotion would be good for us no matter WHEN it comes along, if nothing else it brings in huge revenue and allows a younger generation (who would have ended up supporting the "big 4") to see a succesful team in their own back yard. When I was younger I fell in love with Forest because of Collymore and Bryan Roy and Psycho. We had pace, power, silky football, and a never say die spirit. I believe all the signs are there to say we will be at the top again.
    I would like to echo other comments though, the acquisitions panel is a disaster waiting to happen Billy should be allowed to buy his own players no matter what! And David Pleat????? I can remember him getting Sheff Wed relegated but not much more than that :0) YOU REDS!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    As a life long Forest fan, i would love to see them promoted, my only worry would be that they are not ready for the Premiership and are likely to go straight back down. I used to live up in Nottingham before moving down south near London, and if Forest get promoted this season i will definately confirm my place at Nottingham Trent University - and buy a Forest season ticket!

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    They won't last the distance. They haven't got the quality, and will eventually fall away leaving it to West Brom and Newcastle to gain promotion automatically with Forest in the play offs, which are a gamble in themself.

    Davies has done a fantastic job, but their isn't a single player in the team that West Brom or Newcastle would swap for one of theirs, and that's the most telling thing.

    Also, if the promotion teams were Newcastle, Forest and Cardiff, what would that tell teams about having massive debts? At least a club like West Brom are self sufficient financially and should be considered the perfect model of a football club, no debts, and using their own money instead of a sugar daddy (Newcastle/Forest) or a hedge fund (Cardiff) to try and pay their way to the top division.

  • Comment number 31.

    This forest team reminds me of the Paul Hart team (ala Jenas, Andy Reid, Dawson, Harewood, Chris Bart Williams)we made the play-offs but came up short in the semi's. This teams very similar in the style of play and also the squad age. It was a very young team back then and maybe we missed a few old heads. I think the balance is alright at the moment. There are still a few players who got automatic from league one so they do have that experience to look back on, although the pressures this time round are slightly different for obvious reasons.

    Also i understand billy Davies' logic that its better to do promotion in steps but the nature of the championship can make that difficult to do. Realistically its only been Cardiff who have been there or thereabouts consistently, maybe Preston as well. Its so competitive that when u have the chance you should take it

  • Comment number 32.

    Now then,

    Thanks for the comments. One of my best mates lives in Nottingham and I met up with him after the match on Saturday for a couple of refreshers.

    He has, like everyone one, picked up on what he describes as a real buzz about the city as a result of what Billy Davies has done at Forest. "Coming out of the woodwork," is the way he slightly cheekily put it about the growth in optimism of the Forest fans.

    I reckon that if I was a Forest fan my major wish would be that Davies maintains a strong working relationship with his employers because there is no doubt about his ability as a manager.

    And after what happened at Derby I'm sure he has a burning ambition to prove himself in the Premier League - and lets be honest, Forest is probably the best vehicle for him to do that.

    If Forest do fall short having impressed for so long I wonder whether the current season will then inevitably be tinged with the stench of failure - even though that should not be the case.

    howard ballsy - You create the need for a new word, one that describes someone who intentionally spoils the flow and intelligence of blog postings.

    A blog pest, perhaps a blest.

  • Comment number 33.

    @#30 - I presume you're a Derby supporter seeing as your tried to pick at Forest's 'debts'.

    I don't know how you can compare our situation to that of Newcastle and Cardiff. Nigel Doughty does pay for transfers, but then he's our chairman, so he would. Yes, he has spent a lot of money on them, but he isn't likely to sell the club after the first offer and claim all his money back like Mike Ashley might do.

    As for Cardiff, you must be kidding. In danger of a winding-up order and selling season tickets early to pay off debts while claiming it would go towards players.

    I don't think Forest set a bad example about how a club should function at all.

    As for the comments about 'not a single player Newcastle or West Brom would like to swap', I think you're wrong there as well.

    Did I imagine that Newcastle tried to buy James Perch off us in January?

    They were also in for Chris Cohen in the fairly recent past, but Forest stood firm and denied them the chance to even attempt to sign him.

    After we thrashed West Brom at their place last month, fans all over their messageboards were clamouring to praise Raddy Majewski.

    I think you need to go over your 'points' before you post next time.

    As things stand, I think we'll struggle to keep up with the top two over the closing stages of the season just because of our squad size. There's no problem with quality, because we have plenty of it, but we don't have enough players like Newcastle and West Brom do. Even Cardiff have much more.

    Without a proper left-back, I don't think we'll quite manage it, but even if we end up finishing third or fourth, it'll have been an incredibly successful season. Where were we last year, 19th?

    We don't pay silly wages like Newcastle still are and while we've spent money on transfers this year, you have to in order to keep up. No one bats an eyelid about Newcastle paying £1m for Leon Best, £2m for Williamson from Pompey and £1.75m for Wayne Routledge, but Forest pay £250k for Paul Anderson, £600k for Dexter Blackstock, £700k for Paul McKenna and £1.75m for Chris Gunter and we're roundly criticised.

    When you have a team that is effectively one of League One quality - and even that was debatable at times - you have to improve it. We did that, but had to spend money in the process. Spending £4-5m on 9 players isn't bad business in my book since it works out at way less than £1m for each of them.

    This season has been fantastic for Forest supporters and we'll be happy no matter where we finish now. The gloom of the past decade has been lifted and we're performing again.

    My only hope now is that we can sort out the behind-the-scenes problems, get Raddy in permanently and move on from there. A win yesterday was vital to our season and we showed determination and grit to get one after last week's Derby defeat.

    Billy Davies has been the best thing to happen to my club for a long long time.

  • Comment number 34.

    Great blog Paul! As a Forest fan it was interesting to read about an informed neutral's perspective on things.

    Firstly I'll admit that when we announced Davies as manager I was sceptical, I wanted Nigel Clough put in charge - partly because he was Brian's son but also because I felt he was the best man for the job. 12 months later and I'm happy to say I was wrong. Davies is exactly the kind of manager that Forest need. He knows which direction to take the team in, something missing since the days of Dave Bassett! He's also starting to act more and more like a certain Cloughie Snr although he has a long way to go before he can get anywhere near "the best in the business".

    I'm delighted with the team's performance this season after I'd tipped them to finish mid table; Davies signed exactly the same players I'd have signed and the team is playing really attractive attacking football. Three players have shone this season: Camp, McKenna and Majewski. Three new signings who have added clean sheets, experience and leadership and flair to the team. That's without mentioning Wilson and Morgan who are shaping up into a great defensive pairing.

    Whether we can get promotion remains to be seen but I'm content sitting behind West Brom and Newcastle who still have Premier League squads. Even if it doesn't happen this season I'd bet my house on it happening next season. If we can bring in a left-back, clear out some deadwood and replace them then we're all set for the top. Which brings me onto my next point...

    Why, oh why is David Pleat heading up our 'transfer committee'? It's baffled me for many years now and I understand that the chairman wants to protect his investment but I think Davies can be trusted with transfers. He has a cool head unlike many of our previous managers and I wonder just what would have happened if he didn't have to dilly dally with the committee over the transfer of Victor Moses.

    Aside from that, now is a very good time to be a Forest fan and I fully expect us to be in the Premier League within the next 3 years. Davies is a forward thinker and the board need to be patient with him but also trust him. If he can lead us to the Premier League then he can look upon his reign as a success.

  • Comment number 35.

    Great article, Paul. I have to admit that Billy Davies was not my choice for Forest manager; I wanted Nigel Clough or Martinez. That said I did say at the time that he had a fantastic record as a Championship manager and that he had been a victim of his own success at Derby, getting them promoted too early and/or not having the board's backing for investing in Premiership-quality players. Is it surprising, therefore, that he is so wary of history repeating itself at Forest? He is a very astute, intelligent manager (he definitely has some similar qualities to that other Govan born and bred manager, Fergie!) and may well feel it would be suicidal to get promoted without having resolved the club's transfer policy.

    I have, like so many fans, been hugley impressed by his first year as manager and would now love to see the club tying him to a long-term contract, which, of course, would only happen if he was happy with the position regarding decisions on transfers. But, one year on, thanks Billy for bringing back the good times for the long-suffering Forest fans.

  • Comment number 36.

    @peejkerton

    Do I detect the sour grapes of a West Brom fan? Forest had plenty more quality then them a couple of weeks ago.

    As regards players, did you not hear about Newcastle trying to buy Perch (perhaps the weakest player in the first team)? They certainly wanted to swap. There are at least 8 players in the squad who *will* be playing prem football within 2 years, whether with forest or not, and of them probably 2 (Majewski and Anderson) that would get in any team outside the top four.

    Forest are now self-funding except for transfer fees, which unfortunately in this day and age, is necessary for any team to be successful outside the prem or without £30m of parachute payments to help them along.

    Anyway, I would argue that BD is completely wrong. Forest do need to get promoted this season to keep this excellent team together. Majewski certainly will not stay another season in the CCC and those several players who know they are playing below their level will be agitating for prem moves if they don't go up.

    Unlike other promoted teams of recent years it is not composed of overpaid and aging prem cast-offs so won't be as susceptible to the same fate. Some judicious additions could make this one of *the* great forest teams and the age of the squad means it could be together for some time to come. Failure to get promotion this year, though not fatal, will make that a lot harder.

  • Comment number 37.

    Ugiagbe wrote: "This Forest team reminds me of the Paul Hart team (Jenas, Reid, Dawson, Harewood, Bart Williams). We made the play-offs but came up short in the semis."

    Forest reached the play-offs at end of 2002-03 season. Jenas was sold to Newcastle in Feb 2002, ie midway through the previous season. Bart Williams rarely featured under Hart, despite being a regular for previous boss David Platt, and left in December 2001.

    But it's a fair point. There are similarities in that both were/are young teams. Don't forget Des Walker played in the play-off season with Dawson at the back. In my opinion, the current team is better than Hart's. His team perhaps had more star names, such as Reid, but this one has more of a team feel, more togetherness and battling qualities. Though of course we will never know what would have happened if Hart had been able to keep that team together and make some additions to it ...

  • Comment number 38.

    Absolutely 100% behing Billy and the lads and the majority of our club. However I for one have had enough of the transfer panel and have come up with a petition to get rid.

    Sign up at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=profile&id=510501948#!/group.php?gid=330760943941&ref=mf

  • Comment number 39.

  • Comment number 40.

    erm so why are Forest playing Wednesday five times over the next fifteen days?

  • Comment number 41.

    He doesn't even say that! He said we are 'starting a run of five games in 15 days with Wednesday.'

    As in the Wednesday game is the first one of those five! lol

  • Comment number 42.

    Good to see Davies doing well again-he's a managerwho really seems to get the best of the squad and adds players to it that gve different dimensions to it also-I would like to ask Forest fans a question though-if Davies does indeed get you promoted, and the team struggle would you stick by him or want him out?

    I ask this because I genuinely think he is one of the best managers you guys have had in a longtime and think he has maybe earned the right to try and establish you guys in the prem

  • Comment number 43.

    oozatden (post 40) - always best to be 100% sure of the point you are making before you start taking the michael. Or ForestForever (post 41) will expose you as a blest.

  • Comment number 44.

    ForestForever - thanks for that son, nice to be 'shown up' by someone such as yourself. Nice bit of backing up by Mr Fletcher too.

    I stand by my post of number 40 being grammatically incorrect though and challenge the two of you to a menage a trois of 'paper,scissers,stone' at your earliest convienience to see who is correct.

  • Comment number 45.

    In response to flaminhaggis' question, I hope that the majority of the fans would be behind him. If people don't realise the job he has done for us in just over 12 months they must be blind! The general feeling among the fans echos your opinion. The buzz around the ground is fantastic on matchdays and everyone, players,management,and fans alike believe in the team now. I would hope the chairman would back him 100% and I genuinely believe he is the best manager we have had since Cloughie (god bless).

  • Comment number 46.

    I think that yesterday was a massive victory for us and this will help us 'last the distance'. Its a shame we didnt make any signings but Billy made some of his best signing last year when the loan window opened up.. blackstock comes to mind.

    Were looking great this season and were in the highest position weve been in for 10 (TEN) years!! Thanks not only to Billy Davies, but Nigel Doughty who continues to fund the club.

    Cmon Forest!!!

  • Comment number 47.

    And bang on Mr Fletcher about ballsy. The responses to oozdatden were great. Maybe we could call him a suicide blogger??

  • Comment number 48.

    Just a quick word on the transfer panel; I've been as frustrated as anyone at the lack of activity in the past two January windows (which I think should be scrapped, by the way) BUT since its been in place Forest have made a lot of good signings. Not one of our summer signings has been a failure in my eyes and many of them, Anderson in particular, have been picked up for bargain prices. Surely this means the transfer panel has been successful in its recent dealings?
    Similarly, without wanting to criticise the magician that is Billy Davies, a Derby fan who is a friend of mine pointed out that Derby were top of the league in January 2007, Billy Davies made a few questionable signings and they finished third, albeit getting up through the play offs.
    I think everybody understands that the reason the panel is in place is because of a certain Mr Platt and his maniacal spending back in the day, and, from Nigel Doughty's perspective it acts as a failsafe against anything like that happening again. I believe that's reasonable. What it does do is make what is an already long and complicated business in buying a player longer and more complicated, which is why we struggle with the time constraints of the January window.
    I would love to have seen a left back arrive because I believe we desperately need one and I would have loved to have seen Raddy sign on permanently before he is tempted into the Premiership at the end of the season but at the same time I do not want us to risk everything trying to get promotion this year and see us in the perilous financial position we were after Platt left.
    Finally, everyone makes a big song and dance out of the relatively small number of players we have used this season but (touch wood) we have been extremely lucky with injuries this season and we still have people like Joe Garner and Garath McLeary, who are good Championship players, being left in the stands. So, while we might be low on numbers, we are high on quality and barring a catastrophic injury situation I certainly think there is enough in our locker to push WBA and Newcastle all the way.

  • Comment number 49.

    Good blog. I was speaking to a mate the other week about how i thought Forest's season would ultimately rest on the result against Derby. Those type of fierce local fixtures kick form out of the window and show what true grit and determination a team has in the locker. I'm not saying Forest don't have any, its just that losing a game like that can throw you're season. Although we beat wednesday, i thought we were lucky and at times looked a little lost (compared to the uber-confidence in recent weeks)

    Will we go up? I don't know. i think Billy is serving a great side dish to keep everyone's attention off building up undue pressure on a team that quite frankly may wilt under it (like the Derby game). However i've got a feeling the spin and constant curve balls Davies keeps throwing at the media for circulation may end up proving its worth.

    Does he really not want to go up? I think not, but its a win win situation. Go up and he's done it against all the odds. Finish in the playoffs and lose on the way, he's proved right on his early season thoughts and can build on a great season.

    Whatever comes of it, i think he's the right man at a rejuvenated club.

  • Comment number 50.

    I hope we do go up. I am not expecting to go up because IMO there are several other very good teams up there too, but we are in with a massive shout. All i can really say is I think Davies has done a fantastic job, because i remember at the beginning of the season i thought to myself a safe mid-table position would be great, so even if we make the play-offs, that would still be fantastic!!!

  • Comment number 51.

    The defeat against Derby has made the upcoming Newcastle game more important, the rate we were going we were looking to over take them fairly comfortably before the end of the season; short of newcastle bursting losing to them will likely rule out any title hopes.

    With regards to second, I'm clearly still confident we'll get there, billy's just too good :D

  • Comment number 52.

    - forgot to add; with regards to the transfer panel unless somethings kicked out behind the scenes unsure why they're recieving so much critism. Shorey went to a prem club, as did moses and pratley was unlikely to sold without a very high bid.

    Wouldn't want to go down the Newcastle route of spemding lots of money on championship standard players to get you over the line only to have them hanging around the club for a couple of years on the bench.

  • Comment number 53.

    I think Newcastle have done good business in January. Some of the fees might have been a bit higher than I thought but there was only 2 players signed in the summer with lots of departures so Hughton needed to get players in. Our first team had the quality to get promoted but the squad lacked depth overall and these signings have addressed that problem. I am sure Championship teams would be willing to pay for players like Leon Best, Wayne Routledge and Mike Williamson if they don't make it in the Premiership (providing we get promoted).

  • Comment number 54.

    Very unlikely for Automatic promotion, Newcastle and West Brom are just far ahead of the rest of the league, but with the money that Forest have spent they simply have to make the playoffs or this season will rightly be seen as a failure. All this talk of a small young squad is all veryw ell but please remember that Forest have spent more than anyone apart from Newcastle to assemble it, they could have gone out and bought a couple of decent squad players easily but Billy Davies decided not to try (why he didnt recommend any plan-b's I dont know).

    None of his three tarets were ever going to join Forest, Shorey dropping down a league permanenetly? please. Moses turning downa premiership move? no. Pratley might have gone but why should Swansea accept a bid made with less than 12 hours of the window in which to find a replacement unless it was stupid money?

    Plenty of decent players moved around in the window and lotsof others were left frustrated at not having done so.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hackerjack - not sure who you support, but you've obviously not done your research with your comment that "Newcastle and West Brom are just far ahead of the rest of the league" a laughable comment !
    On any level that comment is wrong. West Brom are a whopping ONE point ahead of Forest, and play IMO the better football.
    Also taking the Top 3 as a round robin, WBA have taken 5 points from 12, Newcastle 2 points from 9 and Forest 6 points from 9. So even IF Newcastle beat Forest next month, we will have taken more points from our main rivals than they have !! That somewhat shows up your comment, woudn't you say !?

  • Comment number 56.

    hackerjack, the current forest squad cost about £6m to assemble from scratch. Are you claiming that the current West Brom squad cost less to assemble than that? Scott Carson and Luke Moore alone cost £7m.

  • Comment number 57.

    Excellent article from Paul. Forest will need to make 2-3 loan signings when the window opens and we will be fine. King Billy is doing a great job at Forest. Hopefully the sheep will go down!! FOREST TILL I DIE!!!!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    Whats this, Billy not talking about his Derby past for once?! Have we been blessed?!

    Same old story with what he talks about, I swear he says exactly the same things at every club he's been at

  • Comment number 59.

    From a SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY fan after watching saturdays epic encounter with FOREST, I think the answer as to whether Forest will last the distance is ..."yes"...

    Wednesday gave forest a really good game sat, but when you can grind results out like they did sat-well thats one of the ways you get promoted!! both teams could have won that game.

    Credit to Forest tho, to go on such a long run receives plaudits in my book, but as they know the problem in the long run is being better than the geordies and the albion who are pressing all the way.

    Hey! just think!!!.....

    In just over a years time - it will be........

    SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY V NOTTINGHAM FOREST (PREMIER LEAGUE) Yippppppeeeeeee

  • Comment number 60.

    Good article Paul- Get yersen down the CG more often, or The Ricoh Stadium tomorrow night, or The Keepmoat on Saturday. You will see how
    Billy D rotates his 21 player squad to meet the demands of away matches.
    Only 1 defeat in 15 away from home. By Saturday evening at 4.55pm it will be only 1 from 17. This "young" Forest team is going places, and will definitely be in the mix for automatic promotion come the end of April. U Redssssssssssssssssss

  • Comment number 61.

    And on a final note.........much as I hate to bump this obvious Forest love in, everyone I know who read this blog said the same as me. Can I help it if the standards of the BBC have dropped so much that their staff are unable to construct a grammatically correct piece of writing??

    and in lieu of responses typical of previous ones I ask you all to consider the terms irony, tongue in cheek and also doing it for the hell of it.

    Peace, love and apple strudel for all!!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    oozatden (post 61) - very droll.

    deano (post 59) - Just moving on to matters Wednesday for a minute, I think you will be OK this season. I thought you played pretty well on Saturday and I'm 100% sure that in Alan Irvine you have a very good manager.

  • Comment number 63.

    hackerjack, no offence at all intended but seriously..... do u believe that??? Both the squads of Newcastle and WBA contain players who have consistently been unable to make the grade in the prem. We have a squad with players who are mainly untested ant prem level, and I believe that there are a few revelations on the cards for the doubters. Our squad is young and tight knit and I believe that even a season battling for survival last year galvanised them, can you imagine the benefit of having to battle the best? West Brom have proved that they are the proverbial yo-yo club, and I think that Newcastle (without major investment) will only struggle again next year.

    Lets wait and see, but confidence is high on the banks of the Trent and long may it continue!!!! NFFC4LIFE

  • Comment number 64.

    Yo alrite Paul, I was the chinese dude sitting next to you on the train on sunday. Wasnt quite sure what to say to you there and then, but yeah nice blog man!

  • Comment number 65.

    hey paul
    enjoyed your comments
    have followed forest from nz for 50 years-my parents were from notts and coming back for forests last game at scunthorpe(where is scunthorpe-what can you do in scunthorpe?)and too right I hope they get in the premier league-come on king billy keep it up
    see you all in scunthorpe for the winner
    ps anybody got any good tickets hard to find here in nz
    sheep shagger

  • Comment number 66.

    As a Forest season ticket holder for the past decade, I can see exactly where the pessimism is coming from. In the past, we've gone on little runs, which have promised so much then brought us down to earth with the biggest of bangs (such as missing out on the playoffs under Charlie and Frank due to an away defeat at Hartlepool, the first time that they have ever beaten us), or the playoff defeat against Yeovil a season later.

    What Billy has brought us this season is a team ethic. In the past, the Forest team has just been a collection of individuals, each pulling together towards the objective, and this can be typified in the way which we have not just beaten teams this season, but dismantled them, as in the first 60 minutes against West Brom.

    Billy Davies is right to play down the chances of us getting promoted. We don't want to get carried away as a club, and despite the players keeping their feet on the ground, there is an air of expectancy at the club that I haven't seen in a long time. The last 3 Saturday home league games have all pulled in over 27000 fans, and its been a long time since Forest have done that. I'm sure that if you had offered the majority of Forest fans a shot at the Playoffs at the beginning of the season, we'd have snapped your hand off, and to a degree, I'd take that now.

    We have come a long way in 12 months, from scraping clear of relegation in the last fortnight of the season, to pushing two freshly relegated teams all the way in the league.

    Whatever happens this season, it has been a great success.

    COYR.

  • Comment number 67.

    If Forest badly lack a left-footed player not afraid to go forward, why not go for Erik Edman, about to leave PL to return to Sweden? OK, he was turned inside out when Spurs thrashed Wigan in the autumn, but he could provide the balance you fans on the spot seem to be worrying about.

  • Comment number 68.

    I think Newcastle will not be caught. That leaves, in my opinion, West Brom and Forest battling for second. We can debate until the cows come home who will win out on that front but we'll know a lot better in a couple of weeks.

    calvin yu - Thanks for saying hello. Next time just wade in and start chatting.

  • Comment number 69.

    wanna put a bet on that paul?



    There a specific reason why smilies don't work on this btw?

  • Comment number 70.

    i feel wba have strength in depth,something forest dont and this could be there downfall,although i would like to see us both go up and newcastle in playoffs,wba have been there before that will help in the run in,newcastle have quality but have they got the bottle,i feel that forest need to get a more experianced player in to help the young uns in the final third,although we will sell you luke moore for a mill,good luck to forest and i hope i see you in the prem with the albion.

  • Comment number 71.

    Firstly, great write-up on Forest Paul. I agree that we'll find out
    in the next couple of weeks if NF will still be pushing WBA and Newcastle
    as the two games in a week take their toll on a small squad.
    Having been a Forest fan for over 30 years now, i have seen the high's
    and low's. I must say i haven't been this excited about my team since the
    great Brian Clough and Peter Taylor reign.
    I now live in Canada so obviously don't get to see them play week in/week out, but from what I have seen from the live games shown on TV, Billy has his team playing very attractive football whilst they look much better defensively. As good as I have seen them at the back for many seasons.
    I can see where the board are coming from regarding transfers. Nobody wants to see their team land in financial difficulty. Like all good coaches, Billy wants to achieve success and at the moment he is working with at least one hand tied behind his back. Please let's try to hold on to this manager.
    I can't help being a little sad over how the finances and the team
    have been managed since Forest's success day's. You would think that a club would build on that but instead, whether it's down to poor decisions from previous managers or bad ownership, the club is where it is today. I remember trying to buy a home shirt from the club's shop during one season and couldn't get one due to lack of stock. I was told that "We aren't Manchester Utd". What does that tell you?
    Good luck to the team, hope they can bring back some success of the past. Hope the manager can keep these players together and build a winning squad. Billy and Ned Kelly can you be the next Clough and Taylor PLEASE!!!!
    P.S. Can't help wondering how Kris Commons would have complemented this team at present. KC along with Anderson, Majewski and McKenna. Just my thoughts.

  • Comment number 72.

    This current Forest side is nowhere near as good as the side Frank Clarke created (automatic promotion in 1st season and 3rd in the Premiership in his 2nd season) and nowhere near as good as the side Dave Bassett created (with kevin campbell and Pierre van Hooijdonk up front - the forwards we have at the moment are not in any way near to the class of those two players). We also had a certain Stuart Pearce in the side at left back. James Perch, anyone? I believe that Billy Davies claims that Forest are a work in progress and he is dead right. The only upside is that the championship is, by large, full of rubbish teams and the bottom end of the Premiership is nowhere near as strong as it used to be.

  • Comment number 73.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 74.

    No signings in Jan, what does that tell you about the board at forest.
    It tells me they do not have the money yet to compete in the premier league. Seeing as though the winners of the championship gets 25m then second place 18m which is all very nice however if you take the gamble of the play offs and are rewarded with a trip to wembley which you win then you can look forward to a 38m pay day.
    Maybe thats what the board and DB are really hoping.
    Having said that there is some right rubbish in the premier league and with the city ground again being a fortress for forest there is no reason why with a bit of belief they can not survive in that league.
    I remember the glory days when forest came form div 2 one season to win div 1 the next and of course the small issue of 2 european cups, when it was a cup competition not a league under the great Clough and lets not forget the frank clark team that finished 3rd in the p.l. again after winning promotion the year before.
    So yes there could be an ideal time to get promoted and ideally maybe that's not now but as a forest fan for 30 years I think go for it!
    If the government gets it's way and brings in a regulator then it becomes more of a level playing in terms of who's got the cash and then hopefully we will not loose quality players to the likes of Wigan, no offence, but double european cup winners or Wigan who would you choose?

  • Comment number 75.

    I Believe if Forest fashion the same football as they are playing now and have the same confidence as what they had against QPR they will get
    promoted and stay up. To support that look how they out classed Birmingham and Black burn

  • Comment number 76.

    Good year to get promoted. The prem is very weak and outside the top 8 or so is just full of clubs that spend all season try to avoid getting relegated. On top of that few clubs now will have the finances to strengthen their teams in the summer and will be offloading as many as possible (a whole team from pompey). For a team like Forest who aren't lumbered with a huge wage bill, haven't already spent next season's tv money and do have a lot of cash available that is a prime opportunity to pick up some class players and straight away push for european places.

  • Comment number 77.

    Will somebody please teach greenarmy12thman the difference between "there" and "their"? Sorry but he's doing my head in!

  • Comment number 78.

    Newcastle and West Brom for automatic promotion !!

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