Tom Head’s Nottingham Forest blog: The next few weeks are critical both on the pitch and on the stands

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STOPPING short of a Mike Bassett inspired ‘three cheers for Robbie Simpson’, the truth is that the Latics only excelled for what could not be more than 15 minutes.

The game, deficient of any sustainable quality and decided only by impromptu moments of luck, indecision and Robbie Simpson’s dancing feet, was perhaps befitting for a day when only half of the stadium was actually open.

In times of confusion, let’s try and collectively keep our heads clear. Only 8,000 Forest fans were there on Saturday to Oldham’s 3,000 travelling supporters.

This tells me expectations for the cup were low. Agreed, maybe not for this particular game, but for the cup in general.

If we really had any chance of winning it, every fixture in the competition would take on as serious a meaning as a league match.

The defeat? Disappointing. The managerial and boardroom upheaval? Baffling. The next few weeks? Critical ... not just on the pitch, but in the stands.

Failure to secure four points in the next two games (one, I cautiously call a home banker, and the other ... I’m sure I don’t need to explain) would rile the fans to a level of apoplexy known as ‘Code Megson’: going into games already defeated, due to the anger and confusion vocalising itself to the point where it is a majority.

I know, fans have every right to be frustrated. We spend our money, we have a right to an opinion. There would be something strange about a supporter who could laugh a winless month off. It’s a Catch 22 situation for everyone who follows Forest.

How do you balance your disdain towards poor form and bizarre boardroom activity with your inherent duty to support the players?

Here is something you definitely do not do ... level personal abuse to the team.

A poor performance is no excuse to swear, rant and rave at someone.

This is an alien concept to a lot of football fans, who use the feeble and simplistic ‘they get paid enough, they should take the abuse’ reason.

If you subscribe to that, and openly shout derogatory remarks at someone who plays for your team, let me ask you this: do you think you’re helping? Do you think this is what we need?

Football is a cathartic experience. We live our lives through our team, and yes, when things are going wrong, it puts a downer on how we feel externally from the game.

Yet letting your frustrations boil over to the point where you are on Twitter, hounding certain players (and more disturbingly, as seen this week, family members of the owners), then you are only making the situation you want to make better a thousand times worse.

All things considered, the eleven men that take to the pitch are not the ones that make the decisions that affect the club.

Any anger people have for the McLeish appointment should not be converted into counter-constructive criticism towards our squad.

Though the last couple of weeks have been difficult, it does not have a patch on League One dark ages, does it?

I really hope that a majority of us stay vigilant enough to avoid creating a toxic atmosphere around the City Ground.

There’s always been a culture at home games to criticise the team, if we have a poor opening half hour. It sets a tone, and the chances of a recovery and a sublime last 60 minutes dwindle.

Football’s vicarious nature works both ways and a downbeat crowd will breed a downbeat squad.

It’s difficult, trust me - no-one has been more overcome with rage since Boxing Day than me - but Forest need their fans more now than at any point of the season.

Just imagine, I implore you, we win our next two games. How great will you feel if we do what some are seeing as the ‘impossible’ and beat Derby? It isn’t impossible. It’s Derby. They are terrible every year (boy do I look forward to hearing from a few Rams fans now...).

We cannot be angry all the time. That would be a living hell experienced only by right-wing bigots and Daily Mail readers ... isn’t it funny how those two things go hand in hand?

To quote Thomas Fuller - or Harvey Dent in Batman - “The night is darkest just before the dawn”. Keep that in mind, because it is more than possible we can ride this storm out.

And if we can’t ... well, I assume you all got alcohol for Christmas?