Tom Head’s Nottingham Forest blog: Arsher Ali mulls over our positive, present and future

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When Paul McShane punched home Hull’s winner against Forest last week, something rather unfathomable came to my attention.

Through the medium of Twitter, and the testimony of sources who were at the game, there was a venomous air of negativity swirling around the City Ground. Some of the less consistent players were subjected to stinging criticism, and certainly none of it was constructive. The post-match toxicity created by the minority felt like a traumatic throw-back to last season’s cavernous depths... At least then, we did have something to be miserable about.

Particularly moronic were calls for Sean O’Driscoll’s P45. I know, if only our gaffer was as smart as ‘Big Daz’ from Long Eaton*. I thought tactics and formations were the cornerstone of an organised, successful side. Turns out all you have to do is shout “GO ON” and YOU’RE USELESS, (insert player name)!” for 90 minutes.

Fans are entitled to their opinions, and have every right to be disappointed. We lost to teams we should have, realistically, taken four points off. Just because things didn’t go to plan, this does not give anyone the right to vehemently and consistently abuse the team. Booing at the end of a match is just as counter-productive.

I know 99% of you reading deplore this aspect of our fans, and for that, I salute you. You are my friends. So, seeing as we are a mere three points off the play-offs, and playing football that would have given our fans wet dreams in the middle of last season, I thought I’d consult a colleague of mine, and get his view on the current situation.

Arsher Ali, who starred in Beaver Falls (hilarious E4 sitcom) and Four Lions (Even more hilarious, Chris Morris directed-and-written film), has another talent up his sleeve: Writing about Nottingham Forest. Having already blogged for The Chad this year, his measured approached and incisive observations certainly turned a few heads.

To quell the boo boys, and reassure the fans that do actually want to see Forest do well, I asked Arsher what he’s made of the season so far, as well as discussing more recent events, and what we have to look forward to in the near future...

After the Hull game, a significant number of fans, whether it was through booing at the ground or posting negative tweets, were directing their frustrations towards the manager rather than the situation. Should there be any doubt Sean O’Driscoll is the right man for the job?

“I think that was mostly from the deathly ‘Bring Back Billy’ brigade. What gets me is a lot of them don’t understand how much of a bad fit he was for the club behind the scenes. It’s no real surprise he hasn’t worked since.

Sean O’Driscoll is completely the right man for the job and I think he’s done brilliantly to underplay what has to be considered a very good start to the season. Lets focus on the fact that only 20 games into his tenure, we’re at the right end of the table and can only get better with time.”

How do you expect us to improve? If anything, what do Forest need to change to get back to winning ways?

“We’ll improve simply with time. I don’t think there’s a lot to change. We’ve had some really good passages of football but maybe have been a bit kamikaze at the back. Defensively we could have done without injuries to a back four that was starting to settle well. Going forwards, I think Majewski and Cox are big losses. So really, the only thing you would change is the one thing you can’t change - injuries.”

It’s a favourite quote of Billy Davies (him again), but “you’re only ever two games from a crisis”. Is this true, or is it a case of consecutive losses bringing out the worst in some fans?

“It’s the fickle nature of football I and it’s quite boring really. I think the loss at Ipswich was a certainty regardless of who was in charge of Forest. It was a shambles that I felt was born out of over-confidence and I agree with O’Driscoll’s post-mortem that ‘We’re not as good as people think we are’. Not yet we aren’t.

In regards to the Hull City result, I think a draw would have been a fair reflection, but the biggest downer was the fans groaning and incessant pressurising - not every player has the mental strength of ten Roy Keane’s, surely we are there to ‘support’ as well. Most people need to remember how vocal they were when ‘a top ten finish’ was the cool thing to say at the start of the season... Patience please, people.”

12 months ago, we were in a very unfavourable position. How encouraging is it that we have the foundations to become a success, given that everyone involved with Nottingham Forest shows a bit of patience?

“We haven’t been in the Premier League for over 10 years, you’d think Forest fans were bedfellows with ‘Patience’! When we get back there, it will be as if we’ve stepped out a time machine, so much has changed up there! Last year was a mess. Steve Cotterill deserves a lot more credit for helping to keep Forest up. That’s the crux of all this - last year we were heading for a return to the dark days in the league-that-must-not-be-named, and now fans expect an immediate promotion push. That’s just bizarre and would be miraculous.

I think Forest are in the best position for future successes (both on and off the field) that they’ve been in for a long time. And I include finishing third in the league. We’ve got new owners now who haven’t been hurt by past experiences and would be in a position to financially back a manager if, coming into a Christmas period, we were challenging for a top two spot. We’ve put down good, solid foundations and we’ll have a big conservatory and patio soon enough...and we might even do the loft as well.”

...Whilst Arsher ponders home improvement, that is exactly what Forest are looking for. Three losses at home this season has seen us let our standards slip, ever so slightly. Burnley are the visitors on Saturday, and getting back to winning ways would definitely (hopefully) lift the glumness lingering after last weekend.

A move up the table, and we could even match Arsher’s ‘lofty’ ambitions.

* - If you are known as ‘Big Daz’, and live in the Long Eaton area, I apologise for the reference to likeness in paragraph three. However, that apology will be rescinded if you’ve showed any hostility towards the team.