The morning after the night before.
And added to the games against Yeovil and Blackpool is one against Stoke City.
What is it about Forest that makes it happen?
It’s so difficult to work out, because clearly the shocking nights against the first two happened years ago – they didn’t affect what happened against Stoke.
But why is it that a club the size of Forest needs to be the underdog to achieve anything?
The only ‘success’ I saw in my two decades covering the club came when automatic promotion had seemingly drifted away from the grasp, and the pressure was off.
The pressure was on Doncaster that afternoon, and Forest had the freedom to play.
Credit to Colin Calderwood’s side, they won promotion on an afternoon that many will never forget.
I’ve seen lots on social media suggesting the players and management staff should all be axed – it’s a knee-jerk reaction to a night of capitulation, I get that. People need to lash out at someone.
But I actually think the opposite could be true in this case – perhaps the players care too much, and they’re so desperate to win promotion that they freeze at the crucial moment.
If anyone thinks that the likes of Cash, Worrall, Ribeiro, Grabban, Figuereido, Lolley, Samba etc don’t want the best for the club, they’ve been watching a different season to me.
A lot has been made of the late goals in games – and rightly so. I wonder if that’s a microcosm of what happened in the last few weeks.
The players are within touching distance of achieving what they want to, and for some reason contrive to throw it away.
Who can forget the drama at Reading? Forest going 1-0 up six minutes into stoppage time, only to concede a minute later. Isn’t that the story of the season?
Everything has been fine, a hard-working side about to chisel out a notable win to put pressure on the top two, and you can almost see the panic.
About to record a third successive win against Derby in the season, to put pressure on the top two, and you can almost see the panic.
About to gain the point at Barnsley to make sure of a play-off place, and you can almost see the panic.
I could go on.
When you think the players fell a single point short, these moments are of huge significance.
Plenty of opposition supporters are enjoying the moment, in the way that many enjoyed Leeds’ moment of embarrassment against Derby at Elland Road last season.
Leeds had that reputation of falling apart – most of the City Ground was singing about it earlier in the year!
But they stuck with a foreign Head Coach, who’d done a lot of the hard yards in his first season in the Championship, and have gained their reward this year.
I don’t know if you’d spotted, but Leeds won promotion this year – not that you’d have seen much about it in the media!
Does anyone think that Sabri Lamouchi won’t have learned an awful lot in this campaign, that could benefit Forest in the next one?
Whether he gets that chance remains to be seen – Forest is not a club that has erred on the side of patience when it comes to its managers over the last 20 years.
I hope that time is taken to analyse the season, and no snap judgments are made in the wake of the shock of last night.
Because Forest have the basis of something good – if Lamouchi’s side had finished seventh, but been out of the play-offs for much of the season, you’d probably say ‘there’s the basis there, we’ll re-build a little, and mount a challenge next season.’
You won’t want to hear this, but it’s the best campaign Forest have had for nine seasons. It feels like a failure though because of the way it ended.
I think there is reason to be optimistic though for next season – with a couple of additions (surely a striker and a bit more pace in midfield?), Forest will challenge – they’re not far short of being a very good squad. They just need a couple more options off the bench I would suggest.
The first 11, I would say, is a top four side – but there’s not enough depth behind it. The absence of a leading player is firmly noticed.
- When things got personal at Forest
- When I couldn’t talk to Billy Davies – the most difficult year of my career!
- He looked to have fear in his eyes” – life under Mark Warburton
- The story of Cohen and Davies’ move to Forest
- Dean Smith and Neil Warnock – the ones that got away for Forest
I would also say that the Championship, at this point, looks to me as though it won’t be as strong as this season either. And, if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure it was overly strong this time around.
It made it exciting, because everything was so tight, but there didn’t seem as much flair from as many teams as in previous campaigns. And there weren’t the outstanding players that we’ve seen in years gone by.
The loss of Leeds and West Brom to the Premier League is good for Forest I think – because the sides coming down (Norwich, and probably Watford and Bournemouth) will all have issues on their return to the Championship. You wouldn’t, at this moment in time, see any of them running away with the division.
And while Coventry, Rotherham and Wycombe come up from League One, you would not be surprised to see all three occupying a bottom-half position in the Championship next summer.
One thing’s for sure, it is never dull watching the conclusion of a Nottingham Forest campaign, and I know you’ll be glutton for more punishment next season – even if you don’t feel like it now.
Photo – Dan Westwell